Lindsey Vonn is back in action ... and even if she's a bit deeper in the standings than she'd like, it's better than being on the sidelines.
Vonn raced in a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta on Friday afternoon, her first competition since a catastrophic wreck earlier this year. Her unofficial time of 1 minute, 59.22 seconds had her outside the top 25, but nonetheless marked an important milestone in her quest to defend her downhill Olympic gold medal.
The race was briefly delayed due to extreme cold. Temperatures at Lake Louise were minus-18, with wind chill from skiing plunging far lower.
This marks a significant step in Vonn's return from injury. In a February crash in Schladming, Austria, Vonn tore the ACL and MCL in her right knee and broke her leg. That required months of rehab, and Vonn suffered another small setback last month.
“You kinda know if your body is ready or not, and I feel ready,” Vonn told USA Today Thursday. “It’s been a long time coming, but when I come here it doesn’t feel as if I’ve been gone that long. It feels like the start of a new season.”
The World Cup competition, which continues this weekend, could not come at a better locale for Vonn. She's won the last seven World Cup races held at Lake Louise, and has not placed lower than second at the site since 2008. Overall, NBC Sports noted, she's won 14 times at Lake Louise, the most of any skier at any single venue in World Cup history.
The Sochi Games are less than two months away. However, there are no actual trials to qualify for the Olympic alpine ski team; a combination of objective criteria and coaches' discretion is used to create the United States roster.