'Focused' on Olympics, Vonn eager and ready to get back on her skis

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 29, 2013 - 12:11 AM

Months after tearing up her knee, she’s aiming for the Olympics and looking to start competing in November.

– With only a few days to go before she gets back on her skis, Lindsey Vonn’s patience has run out.

“I’ve had my boots laid out for weeks,’’ she said. “I’m so antsy, I’m probably not going to sleep on the plane.’’

The Minnesota native and Olympic gold medalist said Wednesday that she has been cleared to resume skiing for the first time since tearing two knee ligaments in a horrific crash last February. She will join other members of the U.S. Ski Team at a training camp in Portillo, Chile, on Monday. Though she won’t be ready for the first few races on the World Cup circuit, Vonn is targeting a downhill and super-G event in Beaver Creek, Colo., in late November for her season debut.

Shortly after she was injured in the super-G at the world championships, Vonn, 28, promised she would be ready for the upcoming Winter Olympics. She’s been plenty busy, cheering boyfriend Tiger Woods at his golf tournaments, doing a fashion shoot for Vogue magazine and visiting family in Wisconsin recently.

Still, nothing makes her heart race like skiing. Though trainer Martin Hager said Vonn won’t be doing serious training during her two weeks in Chile — and her surgeon, Dr. Bill Sterett, will be there to monitor her — she can’t wait to get going.

“I’m excited to prove to myself I can come back from this injury,’’ Vonn said in an interview with the Star Tribune. “I’m excited to prove I can still win World Cup races and big events.

“It’s been a grind. It’s been a lot of hard work, and it’s going to be a challenge. But I’m really, really excited about skiing again.’’

Vonn, who lives in Vail, has been working out at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail to prepare for her return. She said tests show her injured knee now has 98 percent of the strength of her healthy one. She’s been in the gym five or six days per week for four-hour sessions with Hager, who said she is “doing great.’’

In a light workout Wednesday, Vonn perched in a skier’s tuck on a circular board atop a ball as Hager tested her balance and stability. He said the main objective in Chile is to see how the knee responds to low-intensity free skiing.

“We hope it doesn’t get swelling the first two days, that she can ski without pain,’’ Hager said.

“We’re very happy with her progress.’’

Vonn said she is “in a really happy place’’ in her life. She and Woods get to spend plenty of time together, and to her relief, they are not constantly trailed by paparazzi. She said that Woods, who also came back from reconstructive knee surgery, has helped her with advice and support on everything from rehabilitating her knee to managing fame.

This season, Vonn said, she would like to defend her World Cup downhill title and chase the super-G title as well. Mostly, she hopes to make a splash in Sochi.

“I don’t know how my knee will respond, so I don’t want to set the bar too high,’’ she said. “But I’m really focused on the Olympics.’’

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