Lindsey Vonn discusses knee injury, future

Lindsey Vonn
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If the Olympics were days or weeks away, Lindsey Vonn probably would have continued skiing after learning she suffered three hairline left knee fractures in a Feb. 27 crash, rather than ending her season prematurely March 2.

“If this year had been the Olympics, I probably would have taken the risk,” Vonn said on Eurosport on Wednesday. “But I’m looking forward to be able to walk when I’m older. I thought it was important to make that decision. I think I made the right decision.”

Vonn, walking with a black brace on her left leg, discussed her knee injury and her future while at the World Cup Finals in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

The 2010 Olympic downhill champion flew to Europe to collect her eighth downhill season title and 20th crystal globe overall.

She had clinched that title before her Feb. 27 crash, but by ending her season four days later, she conceded the season’s biggest prize, the World Cup overall title, to Swiss Lara Gut.

Vonn repeated Wednesday that she would have considered retiring if her injuries required major surgery, as she mentioned in her March 2 announcement.

“If I would have had to have surgery, it’s apparently a complicated surgery if I were to need it,” Vonn said. “Maybe then I would think about [retiring].”

But Vonn is already working out in the gym.

“And I probably shouldn’t be,” she said. “I don’t have a pause button.

“I just need time, unfortunately. I’m just doing some light stuff in the gym, nothing too crazy, just working on my vacation body and having fun. Right now there’s nothing really I can do. I give it maybe three or four weeks, and then I should be able to start training a little bit harder.”

Her motivation to continue is at least threefold — the 2017 World Championships, the 2018 Olympics and the record for World Cup wins. Vonn is 10 victories shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s 86 after notching nine wins in her shortened 2015-16 campaign.

“I really hope that next year I can do it,” break Stenmark’s record, Vonn said. “Of course, I’m still 10 away. It’s not like it’s a small amount of wins, but at the same time this year I got nine. I think the odds are good.”

Vonn said she doesn’t want to stop racing any time soon.

“The Olympics is probably the biggest goal, but to break Stenmark would be amazing,” she said. “But I’m not putting any timeline on it. Maybe I’ll ski past the Olympics, you never know.

“At least I’m healthy enough to be able to continue if I want to.”

Vonn was asked questions on a Eurosport set while standing next to former rival Tina Maze, who at 32 is one year older than Vonn.

Maze, the 2013 World Cup overall champion, took this season off and hasn’t said whether she will return to racing.

“You can come back and fight me,” Vonn said, elbowing Maze.

“Maybe,” Maze said, smiling.

“Oh, come on, Tina,” Vonn said.

MORE: Lara Gut wins first World Cup overall title

Elena Fanchini, medal-winning Alpine skier, dies at 37

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Italian skier Elena Fanchini, whose career was cut short by a tumor, has died. She was 37.

Fanchini passed away Wednesday at her home in Solato, near Brescia, the Italian Winter Sports Federation announced.

Fanchini died on the same day that fellow Italian Marta Bassino won the super-G at the world championships in Meribel, France; and two days after Federica Brignone — another former teammate — claimed gold in combined.

Sofia Goggia, who is the favorite for Saturday’s downhill, dedicated her win in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month to Fanchini.

Fanchini last raced in December 2017. She was cleared to return to train nearly a year later but never made it fully back, and her condition grew worse in recent months.

Fanchini won a silver medal in downhill at the 2005 World Championships and also won two World Cup races in her career — both in downhill.

She missed the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics because of her condition.

Fanchini’s younger sisters Nadia and Sabrina were also World Cup racers.

USA Boxing to skip world championships

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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

McAtee added later that USA Boxing would still not send athletes to worlds even if Russians and Belarusians were competing as neutrals and without their flags.

“USA Boxing’s decision is based on the ‘totality of all of the factors,'” he said in an emailed response. “Third party oversite and fairness in the field of play is the most important factor.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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