Whistler weather gives Lindsey Vonn reprieve

In Whistler, the ladies' downhill training session was cancelled because of poor weather, giving Vonn another day to recover from her injury.

Marcio Sanchez/AP
US Alpine Skier Lindsey Vonn answers questions during a press conference at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday.

Lindsey Vonn is probably the only skier who is excited about the weather in Whistler today.

With steady snow falling at the 2010 Olympic venue for alpine skiing at Whistler Creekside, the ladies’ downhill training session was canceled after more than two hours of delays. The cancellation gives Vonn another day to recover from an injury that has put a big question mark over one of the most vaunted athletes on the US Olympic team.

“It’s a fantastic thing,” says her husband, Thomas Vonn. “We’re very happy. We love Whistler weather.”

The training session ahead of Sunday’s Super Combined had been much anticipated as Vonn’s first time on skis since injuring her shin on Feb. 2. Mr. Vonn said his wife appeared to have turned a corner overnight, and was able to ski at high intensity in a free ski before the training run began. He skied behind her and said there was no evidence of pulling back due to pain.

When she got to the bottom, she was in pain, but flashed him her trademark smile – the one that NBC, the US Olympic Committee, and a slew of sponsors are hoping to cash in on at these Olympic Games. She was game for participating in the downhill training.

“Last night, she could see something was turning the corner,” says Mr. Vonn. “She’s finally getting to the point where she can grit her teeth and bear it.”

A turnaround from last week

That’s a positive change from the past week, during which she became so discouraged that she didn’t even want to try on her boots, Mr. Vonn said. He said it’s hard to know how she will progress in the last few days before Sunday’s Super Combined event, in which she was favored to win a medal. But he’s says they’re really happy with the current progress.

Only two skiers made it down the course – Lucia Recchia of Italy, who came into the finish area shaking her head after hitting thick fog on several parts of the course. The course was then closed again, waiting for fog to lift.

When it opened again, Vonn’s teammate Stacey Cook, ranked 12th in the world for downhill, was cranking along when she lost her balance after catching air over a big rise. After crashing into the blue fence on the side of the trail, she was able to get on her feet again but then was airlifted to the hospital in Whistler Village.

A decision had been made in recent days that any skier who was too injured to ski off the course would be airlifted rather than carted away in a sled, so the airlift was not necessarily an indication of devastating injury. An update on her condition has not yet been made available.
The men’s downhill training was not affected by delays, with the Canadians putting in another strong showing. Whistler local Robbie Dixon finished second, with Erik Guay third. Downhill specialist Manuel Osborne-Paradis was 15th. Rebounding US downhiller Bode Miller also put in a good performance, finishing seventh. The men’s downhill will take place on Saturday, the first full day of Olympic competition.


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