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World Champion Lindsey Vonn says she is prepared to fight through the pain of a right shin injury in her bid to win gold at next week's Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
25-year-old Vonn injured her lower leg in her first slalom training session last week when she jammed a ski tip causing her shin to impact the top of her ski boot.
She is currently scheduled to take part in her first training run tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 11, at 9:30 AM local time at Whistler Creekside, although she has said she may be forced to sit out some or all of her practice runs to help rest the injury.
"I have to wait until the first training run on Thursday and go up there, put my skis on and see how it feels," Vonn said at a press conference Wednesday. "I'm thinking about how I can manage it so I can race well in all my disciplines. I don't know if that means sitting out a training run to get some extra rest. I'll have to keep doing therapy and play it by ear. All I can say is that I will do my best."
Vonn is one of the most high profile US athletes competing at the Games. The Sports Illustrated covergirl could easily become the darling of the Olympics with a strong multi-medal showing, and she is widely regarded as one of America's best medal hopes. Should she compete at her best, it is more than likely Vonn will take home a collection of silverware.
Vonn is hoping to compete in five events at the 2010 Olympics: downhill, super giant slalom, combined, giant slalom, and slalom. She is favorite to win gold in the downhill event, the competition where 17 of her 31 World Cup wins have come from, as well as in the Super G. She is also expected to contend for medals in at least one other event, if not two.
With Team USA projected to win between 25 and 30 medals in Vancouver, Vonn could plausibly represent 15 percent of the American medal haul.
The chief medical officer of the US Olympic Team, Dr. Jim Moeller, said in a statement earlier today: "Currently wearing the boot causes her discomfort. She is being cared for conservatively with rest and other treatments to reduce her discomfort. We will continue to monitor her condition to determine if she can train and compete as planned."
Vonn added: "I've fought through injuries before—I'm no stranger to that. But it's going to be really hard. I just have to try to stay positive and do the best I can."
The women's alpine competition opens on Valentine's Day with super combined. Tomorrow, however, marks the first of three official downhill training runs prior to the event.
Prospective Schedule for Vonn
Thursday, Feb. 11
Vonn's first training run at the Olympic venue. The last time she took to the mountains in Whistler was in February 2008 where she finished second to wrap-up her first Audi FIS World Cup downhill title.
Friday, Feb. 12
Possible second training run for Vonn in the combined and downhill events.
Sunday, Feb. 14
Vonn will hopefully be ready for the super-combined competition. The downhill starts at 10 AM and the slalom kicks off at 1 PM This is the first medal opportunity for Vonn, who hopes to compete in all five events.
Monday, Feb. 15
Should she want to, there is the option of a downhill-specific training run on Monday morning, with a second training run available the following day.
Tuesday, Feb. 16
An optional downhill practice, should Vonn's shin feel okay from the super-combined event from the weekend.
Wednesday, Feb. 17
Vonn is favorite in the women's downhill event, which is scheduled for 11 AM. Her closest rivals are likely to be Maria Riesch from Germany, and Sweden's Anja Parson. Gold No. 2 could be moments away if she is fit healed enough to race.
Thursday, Feb. 18
Thursday is a built-in off day for all alpine skiers.
Friday, Feb. 19
The men's Super-G competition is the only event taking place on the mountains on Friday, so Vonn will have at least two full days of rest ahead of the Super-G.
Saturday, Feb. 20
Day Nine of the Games will see Vonn compete in the super giant slalom, injuries allowing. Look for strong challenges from Andrea Fischbacher and France's Fabienne Suter.
Sunday, Feb. 21
Sunday is another off-day for the women, who have no more competitions until Wednesday. That gives Vonn three more full days to rest and rehab her shin if it is still giving her problems.
Wednesday, Feb. 24
Vonn will be competing in her fourth event of the Winter Games in a two-run giant slalom. The first run is set for 10 AM and the second is scheduled for the early afternoon at 1:15 PM.
Thursday, Feb. 25
There are no events scheduled for Thursday.
Friday, Feb. 26
The women's alpine skiing competition will come to a close on Friday, with the fifth and final discipline, the slalom. If Vonn has made it this far, there's every chance she will challenge best friend Riesch for a medal. Riesch will enter as one of the favorites, but a fully-fit Vonn is more than capable of taking gold. It will all depend how her leg has held up over the previous fortnight of competition.