Lindsey Vonn suffered an unfortunate injury while attempting to prepare for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Whether she is capable of returning or not, she should remain one of the biggest stars at the Games.
The injury itself is quite concerning. Her publicist released the details Wednesday, via Nathaniel Vinton of the New York Daily News:
Lindsey sustained a mild strain to her right knee, a partial tear to her right ACL, minor facial abrasions and scapular contusions from her fall,” her publicist said in a statement. “She needs to rest for a few days and then will pursue aggressive physical therapy and will determine the next time she is able to compete after seeing how she responds to the treatment.
This issue is exacerbated by the fact that she was trying to recover from an earlier tear of multiple ligaments in her knee, as noted by Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated:
However, the road back had been going so well that she was not planning on wearing a knee brace for the Olympics and even did not want to wear it in training, according to Nick Zaccardi of NBC Sports.
Unfortunately, it now seems that her ability to participate in the international event is in jeopardy. It would not only take a lot of hard work to get back but a great deal of luck as well for the damage to remain limited.
Still, this does not mean that she will be a forgotten name in Sochi. On the contrary, there seems to be a strong chance she remains one of the biggest American superstars during the winter.
The Summer Olympics usually have loads of stars in each cycle. Not only are there familiar athletes with sports like basketball, but fans quickly pick up the newest generation from popular events like swimming, track, gymnastics and more.
On the other hand, the Winter Olympics seem to be less relatable for the general public. While hockey and figure skating remain big draws, the lack of American success has limited the amount of true stars among the sports.
This is where Vonn separates herself from the pack. The downhill skier won the overall World Cup three years in a row from 2008-10, including two gold medals at the 2009 World Championships. She then excelled under the spotlight by winning gold at the 2010 Olympics in the downhill competition.
With the exception of Apolo Anton Ohno—who is no longer competing—few Americans have seen this much success in a winter sport.
Additionally, Vonn has seen her name in recent headlines for other reasons. She is currently dating golf star Tiger Woods, and the couple has been seen all over the place together, most recently at the Sunday Night Football game between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs:
This has made Vonn even more notable, even to those who do not follow her sport. Heading into 2014, she probably would have been the first name to come to mind when most Americans were asked to name a Winter Olympic athlete.
As a result, it is important for her to remain involved in the program in some capacity, even if she does not compete. Fortunately, Kelly Whiteside of USA Today reports that this is a strong possibility:
David Carter, the executive director of the USC Marshall Sports Business Institute, said NBC and her sponsors are prepared to market Vonn in other ways if she's unable to compete – as a mentor to other Olympic athletes and as a possible television commentator.
This is a brilliant approach that would keep public involvement in the games high. Although it would take away from fans' rooting interest, people would still see a familiar face on the screen when they tune in. This will help ratings and overall popularity heading into Sochi.
While it would have been better to see Vonn in action, the excitement can remain high even if she withdraws from the competition.
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