Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn, America’s sweetheart of downhill ski racing, crashed during the super G competition at the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships in Schladming, Austria, on Tuesday and had to be evacuated to a hospital by helicopter.
According to U.S. Ski Team medical director Kyle Wilkens, Vonn sustained torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments and a lateral tibial plateau fracture in her right knee, and will need reconstructive surgery. The team announced Vonn would miss the remainder of this season but was expected to return to racing for the 2013-14 World Cup season, beginning in October, and the 2014 Winter Olympics, beginning Feb. 7.
Vonn is hoping to defend her Olympic gold medal in the downhill at Sochi, Russia, and with nearly a full year to recover from the impending surgery, maybe she’ll get the chance. But despite U.S. Ski’s expectations, it could be iffy. Recovery time for an ACL injury alone can take up to a full year. Hopefully, she recovers quickly and regains her strength and Olympic-level abilities in time.
Here’s a look at the crash:
The New York Times described the crash:
After fog delayed the race for more than three hours, Vonn was leading in the top split of the race. She crashed after launching off a jump midway down the track. She was catapulted about 500 feet down the course and became unbalanced off the jump. When she landed, she caught an odd angle with her right leg, putting too much pressure on her outside ski and causing the crash.
Racing resumed after Vonn was evacuated but racers reportedly struggled with conditions.
Vonn has won four overall World Cup championships, and is one of only two females to have done so. In 2010 in Vancouver, she became the first American woman to win a gold medal in downhill at the Winter Olympics. She had five straight downhill and four straight super G World Cup titles coming into this season.
The sight of Vonn being airlifted to the hospital (below) is no doubt a devastating one to the ski racing community, and the fans and supporters of the popular Vonn: