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.