Winter sports: Vonn's knee buckles on downhill
Val d'Isere, France • Lindsey Vonn skied out and clutched her knee in pain in the World Cup downhill race won by Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden of Switzerland on Saturday.
Vonn, with boyfriend Tiger Woods watching on in the finish area, lost her balance and her left ski went up in the air, putting all her weight on her surgically repaired right knee as she skied off course.
She didn't fall but grimaced as she pulled up, clutching her knee in a worrying sign ahead of the Sochi Olympics. However, Vonn remains optimistic that she can be ready for Sochi.
"I'm going to stick to a similar plan that I was on before," she said. "I just need to be more careful of how many races I do."
Kaufmann-Abderhalden earned her first World Cup victory, finishing in 1 minute, 47.28 seconds and beating defending overall champion Tina Maze of Slovenia by 0.29 seconds.
"It was the first win, but the season began very well for me in Beaver [Creek] and Lake Louise. I had three very good downhill races," Kaufmann-Abderhalden said. "I have done a lot of hard work since the summer, a lot of physical training."
Vonn needed surgery in February to reconstruct two knee ligaments after a crash at the world championships, and then partially re-tore one of them in November.
In Val Gardena, Italy, Bode Miller, improving race by race, appears right on schedule to peak for the Sochi Olympics in February.
After taking a year off to recover from left knee surgery, the two-time overall World Cup champion had his best speed finish of this season with a fifth-place result Saturday in the prestigious Val Gardena downhill. That came a day after placing eighth in a super-G to crack the top 10 for the first time in a speed event this year.
Miller would have made the podium if he was just a bit faster on the flats at the beginning of the Saslong course. But he had to deal with cloud cover that limited visibility on the top section when he started. Getting his equipment dialed in after so much time off also has been a factor, he said.
"There's so many details, you never know what it is that's really causing the problem," said the 36-year-old Miller, who has won five Olympic medals, including gold in the super-combined at the 2010 Vancouver Games. "The fact is we just don't have the whole thing together right now. We're close, and we're getting there."
Canada's Erik Guay won the race, a year after missing out on the victory because of changing weather that required a shortened course.
Guay clocked 1 minute, 56.65 seconds down a course lined with huge jumps and filled with tricky terrain, making up time over the last few gates to edge Kjetil Jansrud of Norway by 0.12 seconds.
"It is sweet," Guay said. "I skied really well and took the chances necessary."
Women's ski jumping
In Engelberg, Switzerland, Jan Ziobro of Poland had the longest jump in both rounds to get his first career victory on the ski jump World Cup on Saturday.
Ziobro's teammate Kamil Stoch was runner-up on the large hill to take the lead in the overall standings from Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria, who placed 27th.
The 22-year-old Ziobro leaped 134 and 141 meters for a combined total of 275.4 points, and a winning margin of 6.2 points.
Stoch recorded jumps of 129 and 137.5 meters, to edge Anders Bardal of Norway into third. Bardal had longer jumps, including 140 meters in the second round, but scored fewer style marks from the judges. He is also third in the standings.
Swiss favorite Simon Ammann, the defending Olympic champion, placed 11th Saturday and is sixth overall.
In Lake Louise, Alberta, Lindsey Jacobellis qualified for the U.S. Olympic team Saturday, winning the Lake Louise World Cup snowboard cross despite a broken right thumb.
"I'm having a hard time getting good pulls out of the gate because I broke my thumb last race," Jacobellis said. "I really was dependent on working the features to try and get back out ahead.
"We were definitely bumping and grinding in the first two turns. I was just trying to stay tough and hold my line, but I could hear everyone behind me. You knew you had to ride with no mistakes."