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.”