Lindsey Vonn return delayed: Opts out of Beaver Creek World Cup
COPPER MOUNTAIN — Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn’s return to competition was officially put on hold Thursday with the announcement that she is withdrawing from next week’s FIS World Cup races in Beaver Creek.
In a written statement Vonn’s publisist, Lewis Kay, said, “While her rehab is progressing, (Vonn) is not at a point where she will be able to ski next week and is unfortunately withdrawing from the race at Beaver Creek. She will continue to do therapy with an eye at racing in Lake Louise.”
The announcement comes as little surprise after Vonn partially tore the ACL in her surgically reconstructed right knee Tuesday during a training run at Copper Mountain Resort. Vonn, a Vail resident, tore both the ACL and MCL in that knee in competition in February, and was expected to make her return to competition next week on her home mountain.
Vonn’s representatives and officials with the U.S. Ski Team have been fairly quiet all week, releasing only minimal details on the extent of the tear.
The announcement that she may be ready in time for World Cup competition in Lake Louise, Canada, Dec. 6, implies that the damage might not be serious enough to require immediate surgery.
Team physician and Vail-Summit Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bill Sterett also released a statement Thursday, speaking for the first time on Vonn’s condition since Tuesday’s crash. “Lindsey is recovering very quickly from abrasions to her face and contusions to her shoulder blade. Beyond that, she has a stable knee with an MRI finding of a partial tear of her ACL graft. With therapy, she is progressing well while not losing any of the strength she worked so hard to achieve.”
Sterett is the surgeon who repaired Vonn’s knee earlier in the year.
Describing the knee as “stable” comes as good news.
Generally speaking, knee stability is key in determining whether a partial ACL tear can be treated without surgery, said Nathan De Graff, a physical therapist with Avalanche Physical Therapy in Breckenridge who is not affiliated with the team or Vonn. De Graff regularly treats ACL injuries.
In a phone interview, U.S. women’s coach Chip White was hopeful, mentioning Vonn’s historically quick recovery time.
“In general, she tends to come back quickly because of her fitness level,” he said.
With the Olympics still months away, the news that she may return to competition in early December is a sign that she may be able to compete in Sochi.
While World Cup results are a significant factor in the U.S. Olympic Team selection process, White said that Vonn’s history as one of the most decorated alpine skiers of all time would make her eligible for one of the spots that are chosen by team coaches.
“Obviously her previous performances come into consideration going forward. She’s a true champion,” White said.
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