Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
United States' Lindsey Vonn speeds down the course during the women's super-G course, at the Alpine skiing world championships in Schladming, Austria, Tuesday, Feb.5, 2013. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A year out from Sochi, can Lindsey Vonn return?
Alpine skiing » Olympic gold medalist has year to recover from knee injury.
First Published Feb 05 2013 04:54 pm • Last Updated Feb 06 2013 08:57 am

A year from now, Lindsey Vonn could very well be preparing to walk through a tunnel and into her fourth Olympics Opening Ceremony, donning the red, white and blue in Sochi, Russia.

But the Olympic gold medalist alpine ski racer certainly faces an uphill battle — potentially the steepest of her storied career.

At a glance

Lindsey Vonn file

Age » 28

Hometown » Vail, Colo.

Career » 2010 Olympic Winter Games gold medalist (Women’s downhill) ... 2010 Olympic Winter Games bronze medalist (super-G) ... Four-time World Cup overall champion ... More World Cup victories than any other American ... Twelve years on the U.S. Ski Team

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Vonn, who suffered an ACL/MCL tear as well as a lateral tibial plateau fracture in a Tuesday morning FIS Alpine Ski World Championships super-G crash in Schladming, Austria, doesn’t have an exorbitant amount of time on her side as the Sochi Games start 366 days from now.

She will miss the remainder of the 2012-13 World Cup season, and obviously, the remainder of the 2013 World Championships in Austria. A statement by the United States Ski & Snowboard Association said that Vonn, owner of four World Cup overall titles who also has more World Cup victories than any other American female ski racer in the history of the circuit, is expected to return to ski racing for the 2013-14 World Cup season and, more importantly, the 2014 Games.

Roy Trawick, an orthopedic surgeon at TOSH-The Orthopedic Speciality Hospital in Murray who has done hundreds of ACL/MCL reconstructive surgeries, said he believes Vonn will be able to bounce back from what is considered a common injury in the world of alpine skiing.

"I don’t have any doubt," he said. "She’s at the top of her game and she does not want to go out with an injury. She’ll bust her spleen just getting back out there. My hope is that she’ll take those first three months easy and let her body heal."

Trawick said the first three months following a major knee reconstruction surgery like one Vonn will undergo are very crucial, adding it’s where the renovated tendons and blood vessels will be undergoing a remodeling process that lasts upward of three years. He said his typical return-to-sport timetable after surgery is 6 to 9 months following the injury.

"I think she’s obviously in peak physical condition," he said of Vonn, "but it’ll be a wise six-month minimum before she gets back out on the slopes."

Dr. Robert Burks, an orthopedic surgeon at the University Orthopedic Center, said the ACL injury has become so commonplace in alpine skiing due to the gravity and force racers put on their knees over a sustained period of time.

"If you’re a major racer, the chance of having a major knee injury in high-end racing is very high," said the surgeon of 30 years. "When you are racing at that level and you have to edge, you’re driving your knee toward the snow to lay the ski down. Anything that’s not right on the inside of your knee is getting stressed."

story continues below

Tom Kelly, vice president of communications for USSA, listed a number of top U.S. alpine skiers who have bounced back from ACL tears, including Olympians Bode Miller, Picabo Street and Daron Rahlves.

And he expects to write Lindsey Vonn onto that laundry list of alpine skiers who have bounced back.

"Recreational skiers suffer the same injury at the much lower speeds," he said, adding Vonn’s surgery has yet to be scheduled as of Tuesday afternoon. "It’s going to happen sometimes."


Twitter: @chriskamrani

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.