Less than seven months after being airlifted off a mountain following a crash that severely injured her knee, Lindsey Vonn is back on the slopes. This past weekend, Vonn took a big step in her rehabilitation, as she skied for the first time on a practice run during the US Ski Team's training camp in Portillo, Chile.
On February 5, Vonn suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments and medial collateral ligaments, as well as a fractured tibia, during a crash at the Super-G event at the World Championships in Austria. After returning to the States, Lindsey had surgery to repair her torn ligaments on February 10 under the expert guidance of Dr Sterett of Vail Valley Surgery Center in Colorado.
Fast forward to Saturday, August 31, and a sunny day in the ski resort of Portillo, in the Andes, and Vonn was back taking her first run on snow, reaching a key milestone as she prepares for the 2013/14 world cup season. Vonn was so eager to return to the sport she loves, she headed straight for the ski lift after arriving in Portillo in the late afternoon following more than 24 hours of travelling. She took two gentle and easy-paced runs with US Ski Team coach Jeff Fergus guiding her.
Speaking from Chile, Vonn said: “I've crashed a lot in my career and I’m just getting back up as fast as I can. Unfortunately it's taken me seven months to get back up this time but I was really excited to get back out there today. It feels like the right time and my body feels ready.” The biggest obstacle for Vonn wasn’t any pain in the previously injured knee, as she said, “I can’t tell which knee is injured- that’s a good sign,” but ensuring that she does not rush her comeback during its early stages. “I usually go from zero to a hundred,” she admits, “I'm not good in between so this is going to be a challenge.”
The 28-year-old, who hopes to return to racing for the world cup stop in Beaver Creek in late November, is currently just three wins behind Annemarie Moser-Proll's all-time record of 62 world cup successes. If Vonn surpasses the mark this season, she would become the most successful female in world cup history.