That long-awaited Lindsey Vonn medal parade on the slopes of Whistler Peak appears in serious jeopardy after the U.S. alpine ski star arrived in Vancouver and announced a serious leg bruise that left her barely able to walk -- and off of skis for a week.
WHISTLER — That long-awaited Lindsey Vonn medal parade on the slopes of Whistler Peak appears in serious jeopardy after the U.S. alpine ski star arrived in Vancouver and announced a serious leg bruise that left her barely able to walk — and off of skis for a week.
Vonn, a medal favorite in three events here and a strong contender in another two, had torn up the World Cup circuit earlier this season, at one point posting five consecutive downhill victories. But she injured her leg during a training run after her last World Cup race and has struggled with it ever since, she said on NBC’s “Today” show this morning.
Vonn called the injury “excruciatingly painful,” and conceded it gives her grave doubts about competing, or at least competing effectively, in the 2010 Winter Games that launch Friday.
Here’s the transcript of the relevant parts of the interview with “Today’s” Matt Lauer:
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MATT LAUER: You say you’re prepared. This is a good time for your sport and for you personally and yet there is something that you want to talk about. You’ve got an injury and I guess the first question is, what happened?
LINDSEY VONN: Well, after the last World Cup race we had in St. Moritz, we went to Austria for a training camp and essentially the first training run that I had, I crashed on the slalom and um, I hurt my shin.
MATT LAUER: Which shin?
LINDSEY VONN: My right shin. And I didn’t. I didn’t know what to do. I mean, it was, I couldn’t walk, I, the first day you know, I was totally unsure of what we were going to do and we were planning on leaving to go home the next day and so we, we changed all of our plans. We stayed over in Europe an extra four days to do therapy with the Red Bull team and um, we, I was freaking out. I thought that a few days before the Olympics, you know, everything is coming, come crashing down.
MATT LAUER: So this happened, from today, how long ago?
LINDSEY VONN: A week.
MATT LAUER: One week ago today.
LINDSEY VONN: Yeah
MATT LAUER: And right now how much pain are you in?
LINDSEY VONN: I actually can walk normally now without pain but I tried putting on my boot a few times and it’s very painful.
MATT LAUER: So obviously for people who aren’t skiers, someone like you who is an aggressive skier, that boot hits you right on the shin that you’re talking about (LINDSEY VONN: Exactly) and as you flex forward for speed, there is a lot of contact there.
LINDSEY VONN: Yeah. I mean, when I tried my boot on, I was just standing in the hotel room barely flexing forward and it was excruciatingly painful and I’ve got to try to ski downhill at 75, 80 miles an hour with a lot of forces pushed up against my shin and I don’t honestly know if I’ll be able to do it.
MATT LAUER: Is it a bruise? What’s it been diagnosed as?
LINDSEY VONN: yeah, it’s essentially a deep muscle bruise so I have a contusion so the muscle is bleeding and it’s really deep inside the muscle so I talked to my doctor, Dr. Sterit (sp) today and he said that it could take a couple of weeks before it’s completely healed.
MATT LAUER: So you have not been on skis since this happened?
LINDSEY VONN: No.
MATT LAUER: And at this stage of your preparation for the important Olympic Games, how unusual is that for you not to be on skis for a week?
LINDSEY VONN: It’s really unusual. I mean, our plan was to train three days over in Austria and then come home and have about four days off and then come up to Vancouver and so I got no training. Haven’t skied since the last World Cup race and um, I’m coming into these Olympics a lot more unsure than I was, um, a few weeks ago.
MATT LAUER: I know it’s hard for you to say because you haven’t been on skis but if you could estimate for me Lindsey, are you 50% right now? Are you less? Are you 80%? What would you say?
LINDSEY VONN: I honestly couldn’t tell you. I mean, I feel okay now but anytime I’m in my boot, it’s painful so I don’t know. I mean, I’ve got to wait until the first training run on Thursday. I’m going to go up there, I’m going to put my skis on and see how it feels. I could not be doing the first training run. I don’t know. I have to play it by ear and see how it feels and take it day to day and just keep doing therapy and hope it gets better.
MATT LAUER: So in your mind are you preparing for the possibility of not skiing in these five different events or at least skipping the first one which is Sunday and giving yourself a little extra time to heal?
LINDSEY VONN: I’m thinking about how, how I can manage it so that I can race well in all my disciplines. Um, and I don’t know if that means only doing two of the three, or one of the two, one of the three training runs or you know, there is three training runs before the first combined so if I just do one downhill training run then I could at least race in the combined and then there is three training runs before the actual downhill event so if I only did one, or maybe none of those, then that would give me a couple of extra days so I’ve kind of come up with a couple contingency plans of how we can, you know, best handle the situation to give myself the most time to heal and just keep doing therapy and I mean, I just, I don’t know how it’s going to be and I just have to take it day to day and you know, but I for sure will be racing. I’m going to push through it and I’m just going to do the best that I can.
MATT LAUER: You say you’re going to push through it, you’ve had to push through in the past. I mean, one thing I know about you having interviewed you several times over the years is you’ve had more than your share of adversity and more of your share of injuries like this to come back from. Are you less sure about this one than you have been in the past? I mean, you’ve had some bad crashes.
LINDSEY VONN: I’m a lot less sure about this injury than I have been in the past. I mean, this winter I already had an arm injury but I can still use my legs. I could deal with the pain in slalom but I could still actually ski well in downhill and super G and the champagne bottle thumb incident, that was my hand too so that was manageable but it feels more like the 2006 Torino Olympics and um, I just, I don’t know.
MATT LAUER: I’m so used to this broad smile of yours and although I think you’re putting on a brave face, I can also see the disappointment in your eyes and it’s a little bit like here we go again.
LINDSEY VONN: Yeah. I mean, I was, I won the last World Cup race, I feel, I felt perfectly healthy, I was happy, I was coming in with confidence and you know now I have another injury and um, I fought through injuries before and I’m no stranger to that but it’s going be really hard and I just have to try to stay positive and do the best I can because that’s all I can do.
MATT LAUER: And with the pressure that’s already on you and the expectations. This has to multiply that pressure.
LINDSEY VONN: Definitely, I mean, that’s the thing and that’s why I wanted to tell you about it because if I go out there and I can’t do the training runs or you know, I, who knows what’s going to happen but I at least want people to know what’s going on and if I don’t perform well, why that is but, I can guarantee you that I’m going to do everything I can to be as ready as I can with this injury and still try to ski well.
MATT LAUER: I appreciate you telling us about it and good luck. Feel better.
LINDSEY VONN: Thanks
MATT LAUER: Thanks, Lindsey.