Cautious Lindsey Vonn hopes to chase wins record this season


NEW YORK — Lindsey Vonn learned from re-injuring her right knee and missing the Sochi Olympics last season and is taking a more cautious approach this year as she readies to return to ski training in Europe on Oct. 1.

But the competitive racer also has eyes on victories and a World Cup record.

Vonn, the 2010 Olympic downhill champion, still plans to make her competitive return the Dec. 5-7 weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“And then see how it goes from there,” Vonn said at friend Roger Federer‘s U.S. Open quarterfinal match Thursday night.

Vonn, 29, underwent her second major right knee surgery in less than a year in January, after reinjuring it in November and aborting a comeback in December.

She had significant meniscus damage and needed an ACL reconstruction in the same knee she blew out at the World Championships on Feb. 5, 2013.

She’s now in a similar situation as this time last year, when she was skiing for the first time since the World Championships crash.

Vonn was so optimistic in October 2013 that she considered skiing in the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, one month before her initial target date. She eventually thought better of it and hoped to return Nov. 29, 2013, before a training crash delayed it to Dec. 6. Her knee gave out in a Dec. 21 race, and she ended her Olympic bid Jan. 7.

She is adamant she will not race before December this time around.

“I feel like I need to be a little more patient,” Vonn said. “I’m really excited to be back on snow. I have to contain my excitement a little bit and take things slower than I did last year. I feel really strong, but I shouldn’t take as many risks in training as I did last year. I need to tone it down in training and then put it all together for the race.”

Vonn is taking it easy with her race workload, too. She’s known for the downhill and super-G, but she is not committing to competing in the technical event of giant slalom immediately upon her return.

“The intent is to eventually race GS,” Vonn said. “I just don’t know exactly when.”

Vonn has said she hopes to ski in the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, but she also has a long-stated goal on the annual World Cup circuit.

Vonn has 59 career World Cup wins. She is second all-time among women behind Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell, who had 62.

“Hopefully this year I can get closer to that or break it, we’ll see,” Vonn said. “That’s definitely one of my biggest goals in my career, let alone this season.”

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French Open: Iga Swiatek rolls toward possible Coco Gauff rematch

Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek reached the French Open third round without dropping a set, eyeing a third Roland Garros title in four years. Not that she needed the help, but Swiatek’s immediate draw is wide open after the rest of the seeds in her section lost.

Swiatek dispatched 102nd-ranked American Claire Liu 6-4, 6-0 on Thursday, the same score as her first-round win. She gets 80th-ranked Wang Xinyu of China in the round of 32.

The other three seeds in Swiatek’s section all lost in the first round, so the earliest that the world No. 1 could play another seed is the quarterfinals. And that would be No. 6 Coco Gauff, who was runner-up to Swiatek last year.

Gauff plays her second-round match later Thursday against 61st-ranked Austrian Julia Grabher. Gauff also doesn’t have any seeds in her way before a possible Swiatek showdown.

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Swiatek, who turned 22 on Wednesday, came into this year’s French Open without the invincibility of a year ago, when she was 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury, but said it wasn’t serious. That diagnosis appears to have been spot-on through two matches this week, though her serve was broken twice in the first set of each match.

While the men’s draw has been upended by 14-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s pre-event withdrawal and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev‘s loss in the first round, the top women have taken care of business.

Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, American Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan also reached the third round without dropping a set.

Though all of them have beaten Swiatek in 2023, the Pole remains the favorite to lift the trophy a week from Saturday. She can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

She can also become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

Swiatek doesn’t dwell on it.

“I never even played Serena or Monica Seles,” she said. “I’m kind of living my own life and having my own journey.”

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Penny Oleksiak to miss world swimming championships

Penny Oleksiak

Seven-time Olympic medalist Penny Oleksiak of Canada will miss July’s world swimming championships because she does not expect to be recovered enough from knee and shoulder injuries.

“The bar that we set was, can she be as good as she’s ever been at these world championships?” coach Ryan Mallette said in a press release. “We just don’t feel like we’re going to be ready to be 100 percent yet this summer. Our focus is to get her back to 100 percent as soon as possible to get ready for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

Oleksiak, who owns the Canadian record of seven Olympic medals (across all sports), missed Canada’s trials meet for worlds two months ago due to the injuries. She was still named to the team at the time in hope that she would be ready in time for worlds.

The 22-year-old returned to competition last month at a Mare Nostrum meet in Barcelona, after which she chose to focus on continued rehab rather than compete at worlds in Fukuoka, Japan.

“Swimming at Mare Nostrum was a checkpoint for worlds, and I gave it my best shot,” Oleksiak said in the release. “We reviewed my swims there, and it showed me the level I want to get back to. Now I need to focus on my rehab to get back to where I want to be and put myself in position to be at my best next season.”

Oleksiak had knee surgery last year to repair a meniscus. After that, she developed a left shoulder injury.

In 2016, Oleksiak tied for Olympic 100m freestyle gold with American Simone Manuel. She also earned 100m butterfly silver in Rio and 200m free bronze in Tokyo, along with four relay medals between those two Games.

At last year’s worlds, she earned four relay medals and placed fourth in the 100m free.

She anchored the Canadian 4x100m free relay to silver behind Australia at the most recent Olympics and worlds.

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