Lindsey Vonn eyes January return from her ‘most painful injury’

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Lindsey Vonn hopes to return to racing in January after severely fracturing the humerus bone in her right arm in a Nov. 10 training crash that was “by far the most painful injury” of her career.

In a recent interview with NBC Sports’ Steve Porino, Vonn said doctors at first gave her a conservative estimate of 10 to 12 weeks to return.

Then, after strong early progress following surgery, her doctor said it could be more like eight weeks until she’s racing.

“I normally heal pretty well, but you never know, so I’m just kind of hoping for some time in January,” Vonn said.

The four-time World Cup overall champion compiled a laundry list of injuries, mostly from crashes, in the last decade.

This one was different. Vonn is usually able to stop taking pain medication a day or two after surgery. This time, it took a week and a half.

On Nov. 10, Vonn lost an edge, did the splits, turned backwards, went off a little jump and landed on her arm and then into netting in Copper Mountain, Colo., weeks before her anticipated World Cup season debut.

“I could feel my bones hitting together and hitting the nerve,” Vonn said. “It was brutal.

“When I’m laying on the ground, I’m thinking, you’ve got to be kidding me. How do I keep doing this? I don’t know. I’ve toned down my training. I’ve tried to limit my risk as much as I can, but unfortunately it’s a high-risk sport.”

Vonn’s spirits are lifted by two goals. First, to break the World Cup career wins record of 86 held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark. Vonn is 10 victories shy.

Given she won nine races in an injury-shortened 2015-16 season, it was reasonable to think Vonn could have reached the record this year. Until that crash.

“That’s the record that’s really getting me out of bed every day,” said Vonn, who turned 32 on Oct. 18.

If Vonn returns in January, she will miss at least five of the 15 scheduled World Cup races in her best events — downhill and super-G.

Next season, Vonn will be older than any woman who has ever won an Olympic, world championships or World Cup race, except for Austrian Elisabeth Goergl, who won once at the age of 33.

“If I couldn’t ski anymore, that would be the only thing that would prohibit me from trying to break the record,” Vonn said. “I’m so close.”

The second goal is the 2018 Olympics. Vonn won downhill gold in 2010 but missed the 2014 Winter Games due to injury.

“If I didn’t have the records and the Olympics coming up, I might retire,” Vonn said, “but I still have a lot I want to accomplish, and that keeps me going.”

Vonn plans to get X-Rays every two weeks to see how the bone is healing and when she can return to snow. She has plans mapped out for best-, average- and worst-case scenarios.

More key races this season are the world championships in February in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and a downhill and super-G at the 2018 Olympic venue in March. Vonn has marked a date by which she is desperate to return.

“But that’s my little secret,” she said, smiling.

MORE: Bode Miller trains with U.S. Ski Team

Max Aaron retires from figure skating

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Max Aaron, a national champion and Skate America winner, has retired from competitive figure skating.

Aaron, 26, ends his career as the only Skate America men’s winner not to compete in an Olympics. He is one of three U.S. men’s champions in the last 55 years not to compete in an Olympics, along with Ryan Bradley and Rudy Galindo.

“Of course, becoming an Olympian, or having an Olympic medal would have been great to say, ride off on my white horse, but having the ability to say that I have no regrets in my entire career of figure skating, for me that is my gold medal,” Aaron said Thursday night.

Aaron, a former top USA Hockey developmental player, also figure skated growing up to help with his skating skills as one of the smaller players on his team.

He stopped playing hockey at 16 due to a broken vertebra but continued full-time with figure skating. By 2012, Aaron considered quitting figure skating after placing eighth at nationals (one year after being U.S. junior champion) and being told he wasn’t artistic enough.

But Aaron kept with it and completed a remarkable bounce back the next year, winning the U.S. title and setting himself up as a favorite to make the 2014 Olympic team.

But Aaron ended up third at the 2014 U.S. Championships. The two Sochi Olympic spots went to Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown.

Aaron continued, becoming the first U.S. man to win Skate America in six years in 2015 and topping the short program at the 2016 U.S. Championships before ultimately finishing second to Adam Rippon.

Aaron plummeted to ninth at the 2017 U.S. Championships, coming back from offseason hernia surgery, but returned to the Olympic team radar last fall with a personal-best free skate at Cup of China, including three landed quadruple jumps. He went into the 2018 U.S. Championships ranking third among American men for the season.

But Aaron was again ninth at nationals, missing the Olympic team. He was called on to compete at last month’s world championships as the third alternate after Rippon, Ross Miner and Brown all passed.

Aaron had stopped skating and instead was training for a triathlon. He went to worlds in Milan on two weeks of training and finished 11th, a result that helped the U.S. keep three men’s spots for 2019 Worlds. Nathan Chen won the world title, but Vincent Zhou was 14th. The U.S. needed its second man to be 12th or better to go along with Chen’s first place to ensure three spots next year. Aaron reportedly said at worlds that it may have been his last competition.

Aaron said he’s started a job with Merrill Lynch.

“It’s really been a great ride. I have no regrets,” he said. “That’s one thing that I always told myself, in sport, in life, I want to have no regrets, and I can honestly say, with the help from my coaches and friends, that I have no regrets in the sport.”

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Martha, Bela Karolyi speak on Larry Nassar case (video)

Martha Karolyi, Bela Karolyi
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Former USA Gymnastics national team coordinators Martha and Bela Karolyi said they knew nothing about Larry Nassar‘s alleged abuse in an interview that airs on an hourlong NBC News “Dateline” special Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

Star U.S. gymnasts, among more than 100 who said they were sexually abused by the convicted Nassar, said they were abused at the Karolyi’s ranch in Texas during national-team training camps.

“That’s awful, but I would say even if they have big names or they have no names, any child who was violated by Nassar, it’s a crime and it’s so sad,” Martha Karolyi told Savannah Guthrie in part of the interview that aired on TODAY on Friday.

How could the Karolyis not have known about the alleged abuses committed at their property?

“Yes, but if you couldn’t suspect anything, I heard during the testimonies that some of the parents were in therapy room with their own child and Larry Nassar was performing this — and the parent couldn’t see. How I could see?” Martha Karolyi said.

“The whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding, boom,” Bela Karolyi said.

Martha Karolyi led the national team for 15 years before retiring after the Rio Olympics. She told Guthrie that in “no way” did she suspect Nassar was sexually abusing athletes.

The Karolyis have been named as co-defendants in several civil lawsuits filed against Nassar and USA Gymnastics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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