WHISTLER, British Columbia – The head U.S. women's Alpine speed coach said Saturday night that star racer Lindsey Vonn's health has improved significantly, thanks to an extended vacation lavished upon her by Mother Nature. Now America's biggest skiing draw is ready to make her charge in the Vancouver Games – whenever the elements see fit to let her.
Sunday's downhill training session was canceled, which means Vonn has received a generous five-day reprieve since voicing her concerns about competing with a shin injury she sustained more than a week before the Games were slated to begin. The five additional days will give Vonn almost two full weeks to rest her shin.
"For her, it's definitely not a bad situation to get those training runs [canceled]," said coach Alex Hoedlmoser. "It gives her more rest to heal. She's good – she's ready to go. Even if the training runs wouldn't have been canceled, she would have been fine. But it has been good to give that shin more rest. Maybe it won't bother her so much anymore."
Had it not been for the delays due to Whistler's soggy weather, Vonn's first race would have taken place Sunday. Now, she won't have her first medal test until Wednesday, when – weather permitting – she'll compete in the women's downhill. That also happens to be the race that will put the least amount of pressure on Vonn's shin.
Other than skiing during course inspection, Vonn hasn't taken part in any aggressive runs since arriving in Vancouver. She also skipped walking in the Opening Ceremony, instead watching from her Whistler lodging and noting on her Facebook page, "I wish I could be there with all my teammates!" On Saturday, she posted on Facebook that she once again spent the day off skis, getting in a workout and therapy.
"My shin is feeling better and better each day," she wrote. "I am excited to get a chance to test it out tomorrow."
Hoedlmoser said coverage of Vonn's health has been overblown by the media, ignoring the fact that it was the athlete herself who sparked doubt about her status when arriving in Vancouver on Tuesday.
"Everybody jumped on the shin [injury], but the fact is, it's not like it's a season-ending injury," he said. "It's something that hurts and bothers somebody. It's not nice to have, but it's not like it's an ACL injury where you're done. It's something that's painful, but I think there was a lot of press involved in the whole thing and everybody blew it up a little more."
With Vonn's status improving, much of the Alpine focus shifted to the weather in Whistler, with postponements raising the specter of how long events can be delayed before the schedule pushes beyond the Closing Ceremony. But race officials said Saturday they anticipated these early delays and are confident they will be able to complete their full slate of competition by the end of the month.
"I think we can all see that it can be extremely difficult here," said Peter Bosinger, who oversees Alpine skiing at the Vancouver Games. "But we also know that there's every possibility to stay positive to get what we need done to accomplish ski racing here."
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