Vonn has surgery on right thumb

Updated: February 10, 2009, 5:35 PM ET
Associated Press

VAL D'ISERE, France -- Pouring champagne proved a dangerous business for Lindsey Vonn.

While celebrating her downhill victory at the world championships, the American ski star grabbed a broken champagne bottle, cut a tendon in her right thumb and underwent surgery Tuesday.

Vonn has already won two gold medals at the worlds. The U.S. team anticipates her competing in the slalom Saturday and possibly the giant slalom Thursday. She will most likely skip the team event Wednesday.

After the accident Monday night, the team doctor put in four stitches at the hotel to close the wound. She later left Val d'Isere to see a specialist near Innsbruck, Austria. Dr. Christian Fink operated at the Privatklinik Hochrum.

Team doctor Jeff Harrison accompanied Vonn, who was to remain overnight in Austria and return to Val d'Isere on Wednesday. U.S. Ski Team medical director Richard Quincy said Vonn will wear a splint and should be able to grip her ski pole.

"The tendon of the right thumb was completely cut through," Dr. Christian Hoser, a colleague of Fink's, told the Austrian news agency APA. He said operation took about an hour.

Vonn's problems began when she couldn't open the champagne bottle because the cork broke. Someone used a ski to extract the remaining piece of cork, breaking the bottle in the process. Vonn didn't realize what happened and grabbed the damaged bottle as the champagne flowed.

"Everything went really well and I couldn't be more thankful for the care that I've received," Vonn said. "The support I've received from my fans has been awesome and I'm looking forward to returning to worlds and challenging for another medal."

Vonn won the super-G that opened the championships. With her downhill victory, she joined Anja Paerson and Maria Walliser as the only women to sweep the speed races at a worlds.

Paerson's sweep came at her home championships in Are, Sweden, two years ago. Walliser also did it at home at Crans Montana in Switzerland in 1987.

"I was hoping for these world championships that I would win one gold medal and I would be satisfied," Vonn said immediately after her downhill win. "So to have two is incredible. It really couldn't go any better."

If Vonn does not race the giant slalom, she will miss the only event she has never won. Her best GS finish was fourth in a World Cup race in Aspen, Colo., in November. Vonn won the first two World Cup slalom races of her career this season.

Vonn also injured her knee in training in Are after winning two silvers and missed the rest of the those worlds as well as the end of the 2006-07 season.

Last season, Vonn and Bode Miller made an American sweep in winning the overall World Cup titles. Miller knows how adept Vonn can be on the slope. It's elsewhere that trouble lurks.

"It's amazing," Miller said at the time. "Lindsey has no problem skiing 85 mph, but she could fall down walking around that chair over there."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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