Beaver Creek, Colo. • Lindsey Vonn knows it was just some youthful exuberance when teenager Mikaela Shiffrin playfully announced she was dreaming of winning five gold medals at the next Winter Olympics.
Vonn certainly appreciates such a lofty goal by Shiffrin, who captured the slalom title at the Sochi Games last month.
A light-hearted warning, though.
“I’m going to compete in the 2018 Olympics,” Vonn said with a laugh. “So she’s going to have tough competition in the speed events.”
With four years down the road in mind, Vonn is taking it slow with her surgically repaired right knee. She said she doesn’t anticipate a return to racing until early December.
The four-time overall World Cup champion had her ACL fixed for a second time in January, sidelining her for Sochi. As it turned out, there was “quite a bit of meniscus damage” in the knee and that’s caused her to push back her time frame.
Vonn hopes to train on snow by October and be racing in Lake Louise, Alberta, two months later, on a hill where she’s always done well.
But that’s all tentative.
No sense rushing back to racing, no matter how antsy she’s growing to step back into the starting gate.
“If I have to push the date back when I start, so be it,” Vonn told The Associated Press on Saturday. “To ensure the next four years go smoothly, I have to give this meniscus some time to heal.”
In between rehabilitation sessions, the 29-year-old Vonn is finding plenty of other things to occupy her time. She’s sneaking in some fly fishing with her dog, Leo, starting a new foundation and having coffee with skiing great Annemarie Moser-Proell, whose record Vonn is chasing. Vonn remains three wins from matching the World Cup record of 62 race victories by Moser-Proell.
“She wants me to break her record,” Vonn said. “You don’t see that. I think she’s a really, really nice person and I really enjoyed spending time with her.”
Vonn ventured around Beaver Creek on Saturday to support “Ski Girls Rock,” a program that focuses on empowering girls through skiing. She met with the kids, signed autographs, posed for pictures and then called a brief timeout to sit on an outdoor couch near a fire pit to rest her knee and film a video. She put an ice bag on the knee as she settled into the couch.
“The knee is coming along nicely,” she said. “It’s obviously a slow process, but I’m making progress every day, so that’s good.”