Lindsey Vonn details screams, ‘excruciating pain’ in season-ending crash

Lindsey Vonn
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Lindsey Vonn screamed as she lay motionless in the snow, her face turned away from broadcast cameras after crashing in a World Cup super-G in Andorra on Feb. 27.

“When I was laying there, I knew something bad had happened because I could feel the bone hit bone,” Vonn said in a phone interview while appearing at the ANA Inspiration LPGA major last week. “It was excruciating pain. I was laying there trying to assess in my mind how bad the injury was.”

Vonn soon learned she suffered a hairline fracture of her left tibial plateau. Determined as ever with the World Cup overall title still in play, she drained the knee (we know this from her Instagram video) and raced the following day in a super combined, finishing 13th.

Two days after that, Vonn announced the end of her season after it was found she suffered not just one hairline fracture, but three significant ones.

The decision was difficult.

Vonn had a small 28-point lead in the overall standings with eight races left, nearing what could have been her fifth World Cup overall title and first since 2013 crashes that knocked her out of the Sochi Olympics.

The 2010 Olympic downhill champ said she would have raced through this latest injury if it had been an Olympic year, further risking her skiing career and her ability to walk after she retires.

Vonn still remembers what led to the crash, more than one month removed.

“It was actually the left-footed turn before I crashed where I hit some soft snow,” Vonn said. “I could feel my bone kind of go over my tibia, which is not a great feeling. Then the next turn I fell. It wasn’t the fall itself. It was the turn before.

“I knew that something was really wrong. I’ve had enough crashes in my career to know the difference between a [minor injury] and the real injury.”

Vonn explained the difference between the Feb. 27 crash and her scarier February 2013 World Championships crash.

“When I blew out my right leg, I could definitely feel right away that my knee was loose,” Vonn said. “I didn’t feel that [Feb. 27], so I was hoping I sprained the ligament. I didn’t think that it was an ACL [injury].”

Vonn raced Feb. 28 with braces on both knees and appeared at the World Cup Finals in St. Moritz, Switzerland, two weeks later to pick up her downhill season title crystal globe wearing a black left leg brace on the outside of blue jeans.

She said last week she doesn’t think she’ll race with braces on both knees next season.

“The reason why I wore it in Andorra was I thought I had some issues with my MCL [from the Feb. 27 crash],” Vonn said, “but after I got the MRI, it was just the fracture that was causing so much pain.”

Vonn also said she’s “letting go and moving on” after Swiss rival Lara Gut reportedly questioned the seriousness of the injury after Vonn raced one day following the crash. Gut’s reported comments were made before Vonn’s season-ending diagnosis of three significant fractures.

“I just heard that she had given a television interview with not-very-respectful comments, and it was definitely disappointing that a competitor would say something like that, especially when you’re injured,” Vonn said. “She didn’t apologize, but it’s water under the bridge. I understand things happen in the heat of the season.”

MORE: Tina Maze hints at retirement/comeback decision

IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

Italy hosts the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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