US Ski Team: Vonn cleared for downhill training

Lindsey Vonn was cleared to get back on a World Cup course for

downhill training, the latest step as she works to return from a

right knee injury and get ready for the Sochi Olympics.

Now Vonn – and the rest of the skiing world – will wait to find

out whether she’ll actually be racing by the end of this week.

The four-time overall World Cup champion and reigning Olympic

downhill gold medalist is expected to start in Wednesday’s first

official training session at Lake Louise, the U.S. Ski Team said

Tuesday.

The team added that not until Thursday would a decision be made

on whether Vonn will return to competition for the first time since

tearing right knee ligaments in a high-speed crash at the world

championships last February. The scheduled races at Lake Louise – a

site Vonn has dominated in the past, including three-victory sweeps

in 2011 and 2012 – are downhills on Friday and Saturday, with a

super-G on Sunday.

Vonn will start 10th in Wednesday’s training run.

”She’s trying to come back as quick as possible, and it just

happens to be that Lake Louise is on the (schedule) right now,”

U.S. women’s coach Alex Hoedlmoser said. ”It’s a very good place

for her to come back and try because she’s very familiar with the

course and had success here.”

The U.S. Ski Team said Vonn ”felt strong” after doing super-G

training in her hometown of Vail, Colo., last weekend, and that her

surgeon, Dr. Bill Sterett, feels ”her knee is stable.”

”I hope she is in good shape. I hope she’s fit,” said Atle

Skaardal, the women’s race director for the International Ski

Federation (FIS). ”Because racing downhill is not something you do

if you are not in too good shape.”

Originally, Tuesday was supposed to be the first day of downhill

training, but that was called off because of travel delays from the

women’s previous World Cup stop at Beaver Creek, Colo.

Vonn was working toward a return to racing there last week,

until wiping out during a training run on Nov. 19, and partially

tearing a ligament in her surgically repaired knee.

The American told The Associated Press over the weekend that she

needs another operation on her knee but is trying to put it off as

long as possible in order to be able to ski at the Sochi Games,

which begin in a little more than two months.

Vonn is three race wins from equaling the World Cup women’s

record of 62 held by Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell. Of her 59

career World Cup race victories, 14 have come at Lake Louise in the

Canadian Rockies.

She is so successful – and comfortable – on this particular

slope, she petitioned FIS in October 2012 to allow her to compete

in a men’s World Cup race at Lake Louise. That request was turned

down.

”This is kind of her playground here,” Skaardal said, ”and

she could probably not ask for a better place to do a

comeback.”

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich