An exhausted Lindsey Vonn crashed in her final race of the season but escaped without major injury, gliding to the finish at the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo., on Thursday.
Early in her super-G run, Vonn had to stand up to make a gate. She ended up hitting the gate, losing her balance, falling on her back and sliding into safety netting. Vonn got up on her own without much delay.
“Just didn’t quite have enough direction,” Vonn, who came to the World Cup Finals with a chest cold, said on NBCSN. “I’m also really tired from being sick, and I just didn’t have the strength to pull that off. So I’m happy that nothing [worse] happened. Man, I tell you, I’m really exhausted. My body has taken a beating this year. I’m ready to reset, regroup and be ready for the Olympics next season.”
The last 13 months have been some of Vonn’s gnarliest, which is saying something. She suffered three knee fractures in a race crash on Feb. 27, 2016. Before returning to racing this season, she broke her right upper arm in a Nov. 10 training crash. Vonn called the latter the most painful injury of her career.
Still, Vonn returned to competition, on limited training and still with pain, on Jan. 15. She won her 77th World Cup race six days later, moving to within nine victories of the career record held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark.
Vonn went winless in her last 11 starts this season, but she picked up a world championships downhill bronze to become the oldest female medalist of all time at age 32.
She also tallied three straight World Cup runner-up finishes, skiing this winter with her right ski pole taped to her glove. She still lacked feeling in the hand from the Nov. 10 crash.
Vonn goes into next season with one primary, tangible goal — to grab an Olympic medal in PyeongChang after missing the Sochi Winter Games (also due to crashes).
“My goal is just to be healthy,” Vonn said Thursday. “Sometimes I’m really impatient. I try to bite off more than I can chew.”
Vonn will also hope to close in on Stenmark’s record. She has averaged about 10 wins per season when healthy, but given the injuries, her age and emerging rivals in Slovenian Ilka Stuhec and Italian Sofia Goggia, catching Stenmark has become a taller task since last February.
Vonn has said she plans to race in the 2018-19 season and repeated that intention on Thursday.
“I’m going to give myself a little bit more time to get that World Cup win record,” she said.
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