LAKE LOUISE, Alberta — Ten months since she last competed, Lindsey Vonn returned to a World Cup course for downhill training Wednesday and said afterward her surgically repaired right knee felt “stable.”
Vonn said she will decide after the training run scheduled for today whether to race this week for the first time since a high-speed crash at the world championships in February tore two ligaments in her knee and broke a bone in her lower leg.
There are downhills slated for Friday and Saturday, and a super-G on Sunday at a mountain where Vonn has earned 14 of her 59 career World Cup race wins. That includes three-victory sweeps in both 2011 and 2012.
“It was my first run, so I was, of course, a little bit nervous,” the four-time overall World Cup champion and 2010 Olympic downhill gold medalist said.
“First training run. First kind of real race situation since February,” Vonn added. “So it’s been a long time, and I’m really happy.”
As for her knee, the one in which she partially re-tore one of those reconstructed ligaments in a fall last month during practice?
“Knee feels good. Feels stable,” Vonn said. “And, you know, just going to play it by ear tomorrow and make a decision on the race.”
The biggest factor for Friday will be making sure there’s no swelling in her right knee so it won’t affect her thigh’s ability to react and “fire appropriately,” Vonn said.
The American covered the course in 1 minute, 59.53 seconds, the 22nd-fastest time among the 65 skiers who finished Wednesday.
Carolina Ruiz Castillo, of Spain, was fastest in training at 1:57.40, followed by past overall World Cup champions Maria Hoefl-Riesch, of Germany, in 1:57.41, and Tina Maze, of Slovenia, in 1:58.06. Current overall World Cup leader Lara Gut, of Switzerland, was fifth, Stacey Cook, of the U.S., was sixth, and Julia Mancuso, of the U.S., was ninth.
What mattered to Vonn more than her time was that she was out there. She was quick out of the start, then lost time as she progressed down the slope in the Canadian Rockies.
Vonn said she “can’t really put a percentage on” how hard she was trying to charge and repeatedly acknowledged feeling nervous about getting back on the World Cup scene.
“Just trying to stay focused, and focus on my knee,” Vonn said, “and get my confidence back.”