Lindsey Vonn injures left knee in crash at World Cup race
SOLDEU-EL TARTER, ANDORRA >> Lindsey Vonn suffered a minor fracture in her left knee during a World Cup super-G crash in heavy snowfall Saturday but didn't rule out her start in a combined event the next day.
In a race delayed for three hours due to bad weather, the American slid off the course near the end of her run. She was brought down the mountain on a rescue sled and underwent tests in a hospital.
"Got caught in the soft snow today and crashed pretty hard," Vonn wrote on Facebook. "X-rays showed I have a hairline fracture in my left knee and will get an MRI Monday. I will wait and see how I feel tomorrow to decide if I can race."
Vonn appeared on the start list for the super-G portion of Sunday's combined event, released by the International Ski Federation on Saturday evening. The event will be concluded by a slalom run.
Racing in difficult weather conditions, Vonn had led winner Federica Brignone of Italy by 0.32 seconds when she came off the race line and hit a spot of soft snow just before the next gate. She lost balance and slid off course on her left hip.
The race was interrupted for about 10 minutes as Vonn, fully conscious throughout, lay on the snow surrounded by medical staff and coaches.
The incident reminded some of Vonn's crash at the super-G of the 2013 world championships, when she badly damaged her right knee after landing a jump in soft snow. That race had also been delayed by hours because of bad weather and took place in tough conditions.
Vonn has won nine races this season after overcoming a hampered preparation. She missed the season-opening in October after a 10-week layoff because of a broken ankle bone, a year after coming back from the injuries that kept her away from the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Chasing her fifth title, Vonn was leading the overall World Cup standings going into the race, 23 points ahead of Lara Gut.
The Swiss skier had to wait in the start gate following the incident. Gut never matched the pace of the early starters and came 1.15 behind in 16th, closing the gap with Vonn to eight points.
The American also retained her lead over Gut in the super-G discipline standings, 420-356 points.
Earlier, strong winds and snowfall forced organizers to lower the start and delay the race by three hours, allowing course workers to move fresh snow off the course.
Weather improved during the delay but heavy clouds moved back in again after the race began.
Snowfall slowed later starters as many racers shook their heads or shrugged shoulders after finishing.
From the elite group of the seven best-ranked super-G skiers, which start 16th to 22nd, only Viktoria Rebensburg made it into the top 10. The German came 0.82 behind in seventh.
Cornelia Huetter, who started 19th, was 1.70 off the pace.
"More than this wasn't possible" due to the snow, the Austrian said. "It would have been fairer if they'd slipped out the snow again after that 10-minute break."
Brignone, who wore bib No. 8, timed 57.33 seconds on the shortened Aliga course to beat Vonn's American teammate Laurenne Ross by 0.13 and Tamara Tippler of Austria by 0.37.
It was the Italian's second career victory. A giant slalom specialist, Brignone earned her maiden win in the season-opening race in October in Soelden, Austria, and Saturday's win was her first podium in a different discipline.
"I've been in the top 10 many times. It's like crazy, I can't believe it," she said.
Acknowledging that the conditions worsened for later starters, Brignone said: "This is skiing."
"Maybe today it was me, maybe tomorrow it is somebody else who is lucky. I took advantage of my luck. The slope was really good."
Ross tied her best career finish, three years after coming runner-up to Tina Maze of Slovenia in a downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
"It's been coming and my skiing has been improving," Ross said. "I got on the lucky side of things today and I took advantage of it."
Also for Tippler, it was a second career podium as she finished behind winner Vonn in a super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta, in December.
In her second race back from her two-month injury layoff, Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States trailed Brignone by 2.31 in 29th.
The super-G was the first ever speed event in Andorra, which hosted slalom and GS races before.
A combined event, including a super-G and a slalom run, is scheduled for Sunday.
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