Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wonky knee keeps Vonn from finishing downhill

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VAL D'ISERE, France -- Lindsey Vonn felt her injured right knee give way, and for a moment it looked like her chances for another Olympic gold might be in jeopardy again.

Vonn had another scary moment at Saturday's World Cup downhill in Val d'Isere, ending up clutching her knee in pain after losing her balance and missing a gate. But she gave a reassuring answer shortly afterward, saying no new damage had been done to the surgically repaired knee, and that her plans for the Sochi Olympics were still intact.

"I didn't hurt myself more than I'm already hurt," said Vonn, the reigning Olympic downhill champion. "It was a small compression, and it was fully loaded on the right ski and my knee just completely gave out. I tried to pressure the ski again and it gave out again. I had no chance of making that gate, unfortunately."

With boyfriend Tiger Woods watching from the bottom of the hill, Vonn skied out after her left ski came up in the air, putting all her weight on the troublesome right leg. The American was clearly distressed after pulling up and looked close to tears as she clutched her knee.

Vonn needed surgery in February to reconstruct two knee ligaments after a crash at the world championships, and then partially re-tore one of them in November.

She said she will give herself plenty of rest and expects to race again "probably sometime in January" as she follows a light program before the Olympics.

"As much as time as I can give myself to really get as strong as I can, like I said, one maybe two races before the Olympics. That's it," Vonn said. "I'm going to play it safe and race minimal races, so I can get the confidence and the timing and the feeling of racing again. I'm really going to be safe and smart as I can."

Woods was accompanying Vonn to a World Cup race for the first time.

"He's very supportive and it's very fun to have him. This is his first World Cup and I think he enjoyed it," Vonn said. "I think he was a little bit more nervous because of my knee. He's worried about me but he's happy to be here and I'm happy to have him."

Schedule permitting, she'd like for Woods to come watch her in Sochi as well.

"Yeah. I love having him around and the more races he can come to the better," Vonn said. "But I'm not racing that much this year, unfortunately, so you probably won't see both of us around very much."

Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden of Switzerland won the race for her first career victory, defending overall champion Tina Maze finished second.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 22, 2013 B5

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