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Lindsey Vonn recovering ahead of schedule

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Despite the grisly picture that Lindsey Vonn tweeted of her knee last week, the Vancouver downhill gold medalist says she’s pleased with her progress, and is recovering ahead of schedule after tearing two knee ligaments during a crash at worlds three weeks ago.

That’s the good news. But Vonn also said during a conference call that she was unhappy about her injury and believes the race on February 5 should have been postponed due to what the FIS called “extreme conditions” in Schladming, Austria.

The super-G was actually postponed more than three hours that day due to fog, and Vonn said she “did not think it was safe” to race because of soft snow: “Athletes’ safety should come first.”

Vonn lost her balance on a hard landing that ripped her left ski off and sent her tumbling down the mountain. She tore her ACL and MCL and suffered a tibial plateau fracture, all in her right knee.

The day before the race, Vonn had written an article for the Denver Post stating her frustration regarding the course being closed to skiers and coaches because of snow conditions. She said no one on her team had been able to evaluate it before the super-G race:

“We were here last year for the World Cup finals, so I feel like I know the hill pretty well, but it always feels a little awkward when you don’t get a chance to free ski the hill before you race. It’s tricky to know the terrain when all you have to go on is course inspection the morning of the race.”

She’s expected back before the next World Cup season, and well before she’s set to compete in Sochi.

“I’m not extremely concerned when I’m going to be back,” Vonn added during the call. “I just want to make sure that when I do get back my knee is 100 percent. It doesn’t take a lot of training for me to be ready to race again.”

Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career