Lindsey Vonn returns following crash
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. -- Lindsey Vonn squeezed in a little freeskiing on Thanksgiving morning, a step in the right direction for a return to racing after reinjuring her right knee in a recent training crash.
The reigning Olympic downhill champion posted on her Facebook page Thursday: "First day back on snow since my crash and it was awesome!" She also attached a picture of herself -- grinning -- on an empty slope in Vail.
Although she's skipping the races in Beaver Creek this weekend, the 29-year-old Vonn hasn't ruled out a return to competition in Lake Louise, Alberta, next week. Good friend and rival Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany told The Associated Press on Thursday after a downhill training run that the two are planning to travel together to Lake Louise on Monday.
"She's really positive," said Hoefl-Riesch, who spent some time with Vonn earlier in the week. "I'm looking forward to seeing her back on skis and finally back racing.
"If she feels well and has no pain and no unstable feeling, I think she's strong enough in her head to ski 100 percent."
Vonn had a training mishap in Copper Mountain nine days ago and partially tore a reconstructed ligament in her right knee. At the time on Facebook, she called it a "temporary setback" and that "nothing will keep me from picking myself back up and continuing to fight for my dreams."
The Sochi Olympics are in February.
Vonn hasn't raced since tearing ligaments in her right knee during a high-speed accident at the world championships in February. She was well ahead of schedule for a World Cup return -- with her first competition scheduled to be this weekend in Beaver Creek -- before her crash at the U.S. speed center in Copper.
Just the news that Vonn was back on skis was greeted as a good sign for teammate Leanne Smith.
"I'm psyched for her," Smith said. "I just want her to feel comfortable and ready to get back on it. ... I know she's working (hard) and that's all that matters. I hope the progression is easy for her and that her confidence is right back again."
In an interview with NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday, Vonn said that her recent crash was caused when she caught an edge, flipped over her skis and "went head-first into the fence." She said the knee wasn't the reason for the spill and that her protective brace saved her from possibly more damage.
"Unfortunately, it was really bad timing for me," Vonn said. "I'm still confident. I still feel like I have a lot left to achieve this season. ... I still have time before Sochi."
In her Facebook post Thursday, Vonn didn't indicate how aggressively she skied or how long she was on the hill. She did thank Vail for opening the lifts early and wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving.
"I'm very thankful for many things this year (family, loved ones, great fans) but at this moment I'm happy to be on the mountain doing what I love -- skiing!!" she posted.
Vonn needs just three more wins to match Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell's record of 62 World Cup race victories.