DENVER — Lindsey Vonn is back — and she means business.
The 29-year-old has not competed since suffering a knee injury in February and looked doubtful to ski again this year after tearing a knee ligament last month.
Vonn was airlifted to a hospital in February after landing heavily on the opening day of the Alpine Ski World Championships in Austria. She underwent surgery for knee reconstruction.
But following training runs on Wednesday and Thursday at Canada’s Lake Louise course, she is aiming to get back in the groove this weekend ahead of February’s Winter Olympics.
“You know if your body is ready or not and I know that mine is ready,” she told reporters.
“Normally this is the first downhill of the year, so for me this feels like a normal beginning of the season. It feels pretty awesome.”
Vonn, who won the World Cup overall titles in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, is three race victories shy of matching the record of 62 set by Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell.
She has won 14 times at Lake Louise, including a sweep of all three race titles in each of the past two years.
The downhill races are scheduled to take place on Friday and Saturday with the Super-G on Sunday.
“My goal yesterday was to ski solid and to ski my race line and I did that,” she added.
“I knew that if I could accomplish all those things in one run, then I don’t need a second run. It’s the smart choice for me to not ski today in order to prepare for tomorrow.
“Lake Louise has always been really good to me and that’s why I really wanted to come back here.”
With Sochi on the horizon, Vonn knows she must avoid any more injuries if she is to defend her Olympic downhill title in Russia.
There she will aim to emulate the feat of fellow American, Picabo Street, who came back the season after reconstructive surgery to win gold at Nagano in 1998.
But the U.S. star has played down her chances of success — instead focusing on ensuring she copes with her troublesome knee problem must be the priority.
“I’m just going to try to make sure things are good with my knee and build confidence every day,” Vonn added.
“Right now, I’m just going to focus on this particular moment.
“Sochi is quite a ways away. I’m going to just stay focused on my knee and try to get my confidence back.”
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