Lindsey Vonn calls intestinal illness “very scary”

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The fact that gold medal alpine skier Lindsey Vonn finished 21st in Aspen this weekend was already impressive after she spent two nights in a Colorado hospital with severe intestinal pain last week.

Now, after reading about her ordeal in a letter she contributed to the Denver Post, it seems like a miracle the 28-year-old made it up the mountain.

Vonn called the illness “very scary” and candidly explained her fears that she had developed Crohn’s disease. She added that she had to be “super drugged” on morphine and Percocet because of the pain, and noted the difficulty of her slow recovery after getting out of the hospital days before her race.

“I was getting tired walking down the hall of my condo,” wrote Vonn, “let alone walking up a couple stairs. I had to stop every five steps. I felt like I was 100 years old, and I couldn’t even think about skiing.

“Even when I got better, it took me a long time to build back into training. I started just walking on the treadmill for 10 minutes. I was getting lightheaded doing everything.”

Vonn finished by writing that this weekend’s races in Lake Louise, a course often referred to as “Lake Lindsey” because of the 11 titles she’s won there, is an important litmus test for her recovery and her season.

“I honestly don’t know how strong I will be. I think I will be competitive, but I need time to regain my strength, and I don’t know when I’m going to be 100 percent.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, because that’s all I can do.”

Russia to finish Youth Olympics with most medals

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Russia clinched the top spot in the Youth Olympic medal standings, two days before the Closing Ceremony in Buenos Aires and eight months after it was excluded from the PyeongChang Winter Games for its doping problems.

The Russians have 52 medals with 25 golds so far, distancing the rest of the world.

1. Russia — 52 total, 25 gold
2. China — 36 total, 18 gold
3. Mixed NOCs — 36 total, 12 gold
4. Japan — 34 total, 14 gold
5. Italy — 31 total, 10 gold
10. U.S. — 15 total, 4 gold

China and Russia went one-two in total medals at the first two Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010 and Nanjing, China in 2014. The U.S. has never topped a Youth Olympic total medal table, be it Summer or Winter Games.

The U.S. has, however, earned the most total medals at the last six Summer Olympics, beginning with the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The Youth Olympics, for athletes ages 14 to 18, do not emphasize medal counts (plus have many medal events where athletes from different nations compete on the same team). The Games include many Olympic events and some that are not on the Olympic program, including break dancing, where a Russian who goes by Bumblebee earned gold last week.

The next Youth Olympics are the winter version in the IOC base of Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2020, followed by the summer version in 2022 in Dakar, Senegal, the first Olympic Games of any kind to be held in Africa.

The Youth Olympics conclude with the last full day of medal competition on Wednesday and the Closing Ceremony on Thursday.

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Aliya Mustafina returns to gymnastics worlds, year after giving birth

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Aliya Mustafina, an all-around medalist at the last two Olympics, made Russia’s team for next week’s world gymnastics championships, 16 months after giving birth to daughter Alisa.

Mustafina, 24, is joined by one Rio Olympic teammate, Angelina Melnikova, and three world championships rookies (plus Olympian Daria Spiridonova as an alternate), according to Russia’s gymnastics federation.

Mustafina is the last non-American woman to win an Olympic or world championships all-around, back in 2010 in her first year as a senior gymnast. A series of injuries followed, including surgeries on both knees and her left ankle.

She missed the 2015 Worlds with back pain but rebounded for a medal of every color in Rio (uneven bars gold, team silver and all-around bronze, just as she had done at London 2012).

Her seven total Olympic medals are tied for the most by a Russian woman since the fall of the Soviet Union with retired gymnast Svetlana Khorkina.

Viktoria Komova, the 2012 Olympic all-around silver medalist who has also struggled with injuries, is not on Russia’s team for worlds in Doha. She last competed at a global championship in 2015, sharing the uneven bars title with three other gymnasts.

Mustafina joins a list of distinguished moms to return to the top level of gymnastics, including Oksana Chusovitina, who began competing in the Soviet Union in the 1980s and, seven Olympics later, is still competing at age 43 (for Uzbekistan).

The most decorated Olympic gymnast, Soviet Larisa Latynina, earned 12 of her 18 medals after becoming a mom.

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