The 28 year old Vonn,a four time World Cup champion, is done for the season. It happened in an instant, a hard fall and a quick tumble and an ear piercing shriek let everyone know something was horribly wrong.
The season ending accident came after Vonn took off into the air off a jump in the championships opening race. Her right leg gave way, when she hit the ground and she spun down face first, throwing out her arm to protect herself. She then smashed through a gate and end up on her back. Vonn could be heard ont he television broadcast cursing. When someone asked “Are you hurt?’ Vonn responded “Yes, yes.”
It was later determined Vonn tore her anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in her right knee. The broken bone has been described as a “lateral tibial plateau fracture.” The tibial plateau is a critical weight-bearing area located on the upper extremity of the tibia. Fracturing this affects the knee-joint, motion, and stability.
With this injury Vonn’s availability for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi crept into everyone’s mind. Dr. Tom Hackett, an orthopedic surgeon at the clinic and the team physician for the U.S. snowboard squad said, “I think so, I would be very optimistic she could come back strong. She’s a fierce competitor. She’s a fighter and chances are that she will, I would think, essentially take all of that athletic energy and put it into her rehabilitation. There’s a really good chance she could come back as strong as ever.”
Vonn is accustomed to dealing with comebacks and injuries. She has injured herself in the past six major championships. Her injuries range from a thumb she sliced on a champagne bottle at the 2009 worlds in Val d’Isere, France, to a bruised shin at the Vancouver Olympics. This though is by far the worst of her injuries, and may be her greatest challenge to make a full recovery.
Vonn is quiet possibly the most recognizable down hill skier in U.S. history. She may also be its most injured. Vonn’s competitiveness will drive her to get back to competition. The only question is, can her body still keep up with her mind. By Steve Kish