Vonn could miss rest of alpine worlds
Lindsey Vonn is still struggling to recover from a mild concussion. So much so, the reigning overall World Cup champion likely will skip her next event at the world championships or possibly withdraw.
The super-combined on Friday is probably off her schedule.
"It's not official yet, but it's looking like that," Vonn's husband and chief adviser, Thomas Vonn, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "If she comes out tomorrow and feels great and does a fast training session we could re-evaluate, but it's unlikely at this point that she'll compete in combined."
Vonn crashed and hit her head in giant slalom training a week ago in Austria. She was clearly not herself in the opening super-G on Tuesday at worlds, finishing seventh. She said she couldn't ski her best: "It's like I'm skiing in a fog."
"I can't process the information fast enough, and that's why I'm behind the course, all the bumps are throwing me around," she said Tuesday after the race. "It's because my body is one gate ahead of where my mind is, and that's not a good way to ski."
Vonn had a scan last week and was cleared to compete. However, she plans to meet with U.S. team doctor William Sterett for another evaluation on Wednesday night. Because Sterett is primarily an orthopedic surgeon, Thomas Vonn said they were considering a specialist.
"Even if they brought in the world's best specialist, they would probably tell her the same thing: Rest until it feels better," Thomas Vonn said. "The problem is, it's not like there's a pill you can take. With the brain, there's just not much of a way to know when it's better."
Vonn likely will try downhill training Thursday and re-evaluate. She already skipped the opening downhill training session Wednesday. She would need to enter at least one training session to be able to compete in the super-combined on Friday or the downhill on Sunday.
Vonn won the only super-combined race this season in December at Val d'Isere, France.
"She's prepared to skip races at this point, if necessary," said Thomas Vonn, a former U.S. Ski Team racer. "It doesn't make sense to risk your life, especially on a slope that is prepared like this. We both feel it's overdone and dangerous."
After the fact, Lindsey and Thomas Vonn agreed that she shouldn't have raced the super-G on Tuesday.
"Nobody wants her to go into it if she's not fully healthy. But the day before, the way she was training, I would have been willing to bet that she was going to win," Thomas Vonn said. "But then she took a few steps backward. I don't know what it was, whether it was just the stress of a world championships race or what. But no one but her and myself make the final decision for her to go into the start."
U.S. women's head coach Alex Hoedlmoser said the final decision lies with the racer, and the team's concussion protocol is the same as the NHL and NFL.
"We cannot look inside of her head," the coach said. "She was cleared — we did several tests with her — but it's a concussion, you cannot look inside the brain and you cannot look inside of the athlete. If she says she's fine we have to believe it, because we cannot feel her pain or how she feels."
Vonn's problems on Tuesday began with the pre-race course inspection, which is a key factor in the super-G because there are no training runs.
"It just drained her. You have to absorb so much information in 1 ½ hours and normally she's very good at that," Thomas Vonn said. "But the way she explained it to me was, 'It feels like I only have so much concentration per day and the course inspection ate it all up.'"
At this point, Vonn's focus may be on defending her title in the downhill on Sunday. She also won gold in the event at the Vancouver Olympics. After that, the remaining events are slalom and giant slalom.
"We're not looking beyond the downhill now," Thomas Vonn said. "It's very unpredictable. She could feel great again and finish up with a great championships, or we could be pulling out of the rest of the championships and just rest up for the end of World Cup.
"She felt pretty good all day today. She had no headaches and no fog. It's just a question of whether she's better enough for a race situation."