Less than three weeks ago, Lindsey Vonn exited the world stage in dramatic fashion, helicoptered off the World Championships race hill with a devastating knee injury.
On Friday, after the most successful World Championships in U.S. history (at least by gold medal count), Vonn managed to recapture the headlines.
On a conference call with reporters, the 2012 Overall champ ripped the FIS jury for its handling of the women’s super G, the race in which she was injured.
“I don’t think the jury made the right call,” said Vonn. “The fog came in and delayed the start of the race. We were waiting on the edge of our seats for hours. I had no chance to go back to my bus and relax. When I was at the start, I was ready to go, but I had no idea what the course conditions were. I inspected the course at 8 a.m. and I ran the course at about 3:15.”
Vonn sustained a torn ACL and MCL and tibial plateau fracture.
Most observers agree the race was not handled well, especially the procedure of postponing the program 15 minutes at a time, which many speculate had more to due with the live television coverage than conditions on the hill. The overwhelming majority of ladies concur, however, that visibility was actually not a problem during the race (although inspection earlier in the day was held in foggy conditions).
“I skied aggressively, but when I was skiing, I couldn’t believe the conditions. The snow was too soft. It had broken down. I didn’t think it was safe,” said Vonn.
Vonn said she called coach Alex Hoedlmoser, one of the race jury members, while she was lying in the snow and urged him to stop the race. It was later terminated after 36 racers.
“I told Alex, ‘They should stop the race. It’s not safe to run,’” Vonn said. “Apparently they didn’t do that. I just hope in the future they really think hard about what the conditions are like, because athlete safety should come first and foremost.”
Vonn went on to say she’s determined to make a full recovery and to defend her Olympic gold medal in Sochi less that one year from now.
“A lot of people have blown out their knees and come back and had a lot of success. I have no doubt I’ll be back and be able to ski the same, if not better, than I did before, it’s just going to take some time,” Vonn said. “It all depends on me. I have to work hard.”