Vonn's husband: Cancellation 'fantastic'
WHISTLER, British Columbia -- Aided by painkillers and numbing cream, Lindsey Vonn tested her badly bruised right shin Thursday by skiing for the first time since getting injured last week -- and she came away encouraged about her Olympic prospects.
The opening women's Olympic downhill training session was called off after only two racers because of thick fog and low visibility, but Vonn did get in a free run on the mountain -- although not on the official course.
"I was happy to be back on snow today," said Vonn, who lives and trains in Vail, Colo. "My shin was still very painful, but I feel like the injury is finally progressing a bit. I am always disappointed when a training run is canceled, but in this situation I definitely welcome the extra day to heal."
I was happy to be back on snow today. ... My shin was still very painful, but I feel like the injury is finally progressing a bit.” -- Lindsey Vonn
Indeed, her husband, Thomas, called the cancellation "fantastic."
"It's not like all her competitors are getting multiple runs down the course. Nobody got to ski it, really, today," said Thomas Vonn, who serves as a coach and chief adviser to his wife. "So it's another day of healing, and hopefully tomorrow she feels even better."
He said she still aims to race in all five women's Alpine events at these Olympics, which certainly would be a relief to the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Olympic Committee and her fans -- to say nothing of NBC and her various sponsors.
"She's never taken any races off the table. It's going to be a day to day: If she can do it, she's going to do it," Thomas Vonn said. "But she's not pulling out of anything at this point, and it's looking better than it was yesterday."
U.S. Ski Team women's coach Jim Tracy was as optimistic as anyone.
He knows full well her history of brushing aside injuries and pain -- whether it was making the quick transition from hospital bed to starting gate after a horrific crash in downhill training at the 2006 Turin Olympics, or managing not to miss a single race after badly bruising her arm in December.
Said Tracy of his team's most famous member: "We're hoping that she's going to go full-bore. ... We're not talking about skipping any events. We're on a normal program."
And the ultimate decisions about how much to train and compete will be made by Vonn, not the team.
"I'm not going to tell her she can't race. And I'm not going to tell her she has to race," Tracy said. "It's her health."
Before her injury became known Wednesday, Lindsey Vonn was widely considered a candidate to win perhaps three or four medals -- including an overwhelming favorite to win golds in the downhill and super-G -- and become the breakout star of the Vancouver Games.
The first women's race of the Olympics, the super-combined, is scheduled for Sunday, and the outlook for Vonn evolved quite a bit in the 24 hours since the two-time World Cup overall champion raised the possibility of not being able to compete at all.
"She had a smile today," Thomas Vonn said. "It's very encouraging. Like, it seems like it's kind of turning a corner, based off today."
Lindsey Vonn has been trying all manner of measures to speed the healing process since she banged her boot against her right leg in a headfirst tumble Feb. 2 during pre-Olympic training in Austria. She tried things as basic as stretching. She tried laser therapy. She even tried wrapping her leg with an Austrian curd cheese to bring down the swelling.
On Thursday, she raised the bar, writing on her Twitter feed in the morning that she "took a bunch" of painkillers and "numbed my shin with some creams."
Later in the day, Vonn posted on Facebook: "The pain level has gone down from a sharp debilitating pain to something that I feel I may be able to grit my teeth through."
U.S. Ski Team doctor Bill Sterett's assessment?
"Everything," he said, "seems to be resolving."
Although a physical therapist recommended changing ski boots, possibly by cushioning where the top of the equipment meets the bruise, Thomas Vonn said they decided against that, lest it affect her performance.
If there is more snow and fog, if there are more delays, no family will be happier than the Vonns.
"We've heard a lot about Whistler weather, and we welcome it at this point," Thomas Vonn said. "It's probably not popular, but we welcome it."
The women's training was cut short after American Stacey Cook crashed landing a jump and was flown by helicopter to a medical facility. Cook was released early Thursday afternoon from the Whistler Polyclinic.
"Stacey has been released from the Whistler Olympic Village Polyclinic and her prognosis is good," said U.S. Olympic Team chief medical officer Dr. Jim Moeller. "She's undergone a complete evaluation by our medical team in Whistler and has received diagnostic X-rays and a CT scan, which all came back negative. ... We'll continue to evaluate her and work with the U.S. Ski Team to try and get her back competing as quickly as possible."
Cook will continue to be evaluated and hasn't been ruled out for Friday's training run.
The men's downhillers managed to squeeze in a full training session Thursday, at least keeping a chance of racing as scheduled Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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