Lindsey Vonn faces race against time after successful knee surgery
(CNN) — With last Thursday marking exactly a year to go until the Winter Olympics at Sochi, U.S. ski star Lindsey Vonn faces a race against time to make the Games.
The 28-year-old suffered a season-ending injury at the women’s super-G in Austria Tuesday and faces surgery on ruptured knee ligaments and a lateral tibial plateau following a dramatic crash.
Vonn, who won the downhill gold at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, received 12 minutes of treatment on the slope before being flown to hospital by helicopter.
Dr. Bill Sterett, a physician for the U.S. Ski Team, performed surgery on the four-time overall World Cup champion Sunday morning in Vail, Colo. In a release issued by the ski team, Sterett said the surgery went well and that she was resting comfortably.
“The overall success rate for ACL/MCL surgery is very good. Modern surgical techniques combined with aggressive rehabilitation will help Lindsey make a full recovery,” said Sterett, who’s also a surgeon at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics. “She will do everything in her power to return as quickly as possible to competitive skiing.”
Sterett told the Associated Press it was too early to issue a specific prognosis and didn’t have a return date to skiing for Vonn. But other doctors believe she could be sidelined for up to eight months.
Expected recovery times from ruptured knee ligaments vary from between six to eight months, but Vonn is adamant she will be back in action ahead of next year’s event in Russia.
“First off I want to say thank you to the amazing medical staff that cared for me,” Vonn said. “I plan on returning to Vail (Colorado) as soon as I can to have the necessary surgeries. I am also grateful to my fans for the outpouring of support, which has really helped me stay positive.
“I can assure you that I will work as hard as humanly possible to be ready to represent my country next year in Sochi.”
Vonn has emerged successfully from past injuries, coming back from a shocking crash in downhill training at the 2006 Olympics, which left her with a badly bruised back.
In 2007, her season was brought to an abrupt halt with a badly twisted right knee in slalom training at the Are world championships.
She also suffered a broken finger at the 2010 Olympics, an event which she competed with a shin injury.
And with Sochi on the horizon, U.S. teammate Ted Ligety, who won the men’s super-G Wednesday also offered Vonn his support.
“That was tough, that was a brutal-looking crash,” Ligety said. “Hopefully, I’m sure she’ll be strong again next year and fight back and she’ll be back to where she was.
“Ski racing is a sport where you have so many teammates get injured and it’s such a huge part of the sport that if an athlete ever let that get to them they would never do good ever.
“Because it’s such a dangerous sport, it’s something that’s such a norm having teammates get injured that you can’t worry about it because you need to worry about yourself and try to hammer hard and be safe yourself.”