Lindsey Vonn has dealt with injuries her entire career. Not just simple injuries, though--sprained ankles, bruised knees, and the like--but freak accidents that would make you think she's comiscaly destined for the trainers table--she once split open her thumb on a champagne bottle while celebrating a big win, she badly bit her tongue while racing in Canada last year, and there have been a host of other serious injuries that have been setbacks over the years. And now this.
On the eve of the Olympics, we find out she's badly injured her shin and might miss the biggest event of her entire life. Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden spoke to Lindsey yesterday, and started off simple:
When I spoke to Vonn by cell phone Wednesday morning ... all I could say for starters was: "What are we going to do with you?"
To which Vonn said, "I don't know. What ARE we going to do with me?"
[Trying not think bad thoughts]
He continued, speaking to her happily-married husband, Thomas Vonn, among others:
Vonn's husband/coach Thomas, told me Wednesday night, "What she had was shin bang that was so severe it was just short of the point where it breaks the shinbone."
"We've tried having her put the boot on three times,'' said Thomas Vonn. "The first two went really badly. Just getting into the boot was difficult and as soon as shoe got in, there was just debilitating pain. The third time was Monday night. And as soon as Lindsey put her foot into the boot, I could see that something that had changed. It had gotten better. It was still painful, and she couldn't have skied that day. But it was getting better.''
Lindsey talked the same way when I spoke to her in the morning. "It's gotten a lot better,'' she said. "For two days, I couldn't even walk, then about five days ago I turned the corner a little bit. Now I can walk with no pain.''
But nevertheless, she explained her reasons for going public with the news of her injury:
Vonn said she went public with her injury because if she was unable to complete downhill training on Thursday, there would be no hiding that something was wrong. "I wanted to tell you guys now," she said at her press conference, "as opposed to you guys watching the first training run and I'm not in it."
So just like that, the Olympics' biggest star might not compete? Maybe. But at the same time, we're talking about a woman with a history of injuries that's experienced in "toughing it out." Given the apparent improvements to her shin, as well The Olympic Moment, in general, you'd have to think she'll give it a try. And what happens then?
When I first heard about it, the Vonn injury seemed like a disaster for Vonn, the Winter Olympics, and fans everywhere. And frankly, it may still turn out to be. But then, now seems like a good time to mention this: If she can ski successfully and win Gold, it'll forever enhance the myth of Lindsey Vonn, and we could be in for one of the more memorable Winter Olympics performances in history. So... Disaster? Not so fast.