US skiing star Lindsey Vonn, who badly injured her right shin while training in Austria last week, said today that she's not sure whether she'll be able to compete in the Olympics. "Three days ago I would have said absolutely not," said Vonn, whose first race will be Sunday's super combined where she is favored to win what would be the first of her three predicted gold medals. "I'm optimistic, but I'm not sure."
Vonn, who plans to train tomorrow at Whistler, needs to complete one of the three practice runs in order to be allowed to start. She hasn't been on snow since a week ago yesterday when she went over the top of her skis during a slalom and hyperextended her leg. "I tried to put on my boot in my room and it was excruciatingly painful," said Vonn, who refused to have her shin X-rayed because she was afraid that it was broken.
Vonn, the two-time World Cup champion who'll be competing in her third Games, has a history of fighting through injuries. Four years ago in Turin, she injured her back after crashing on a downhill training run and was hospitalized overnight but went on to finish eighth in the race and earned the US Olympic Spirit Award. In December, after falling in a World Cup giant slalom and bruising her left arm, Vonn rebounded to win three straight Cup races. "I have faced a lot of challenges in the past and had a lot of injuries," she said, "but this is definitely the most painful injury I've ever had."
Vonn said she didn't publicize her condition because "I didn't want to alarm anyone if it wasn't necessary" and said that she won't use the injury as an alibi if she fails to win a medal. "No way am I giving myself an excuse if I don't do well," she said. "I wish this had never happened, but I'm still going to do the best I can. If I don't do well, so be it. You can be sure that when I'm in the starting gate -- if I'm in the starting gate -- that I'm in there to win."
Vonn, who is planning on competing in all five Alpine events, has three days between the combined and the downhill and another three before the Super G, which are her best gold medal possibilities. "I'm hoping that when I get on skis that I'll be okay," she said, "but I have no idea."