Lindsey Vonn crashed in the super-G at the world championships Tuesday, straddling a gate midair and ending up in the safety nets.
Vonn, however, got up and skied down the hill after being tended to by medical personnel.
“Everyone was screaming as she crashed jumping through the gates,” Austrian racer Nicole Schmidhofer said. “That’s Lindsey. She [goes] 100 percent or nothing. That’s why she has won so many races and why she’s an Olympic champion.”
The 34-year-old Vonn, the all-time leader in women’s World Cup wins, announced last week that she will retire after racing the super-G and downhill at the worlds.
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Vonn, who has been slowed by persistent pain in both of her knees, lost control in midair and skied through a gate. The panel fitted between the two poles detached and got stuck on her boots.
When she hit the ground she slid downhill face first, using her hands to keep her head from hitting the snow, then came to a stop when she hit the safety netting.
“Everybody, cross your fingers or hold your thumbs. That didn’t look like a nice crash,” said American teammate Mikaela Shiffrin, who won the race. “She went really hard into the fence. Hopefully she is OK.”
“The light went out right before I started and I didn’t have the right lenses on,” she told Andrea Joyce after the race. “I didn’t see the piece of terrain exactly as I should have and my skies kinda hooked up and I went straight into the panel.
“I think I’ll be fine. I rung my bell a bit. Just gonna be really sore the next couple days.”
The women’s downhill is scheduled for Sunday at 6:25 a.m. It can be watched live on NBCSN, Olympic Channel (Home of Team USA) and NBC Sports Gold and will be replayed at 3 p.m. ET on NBC and at 10:30 p.m. on NBCSN.
Vonn was wearing an inflatable safety air bag under her racing suit.
“It inflated as she started to tumble over and it helped soften the impact when she hit the safety nets,” said Marco Pastore, who represents air bag producer Dainese.
Upon seeing Vonn’s crash, Shiffrin looked away from the big video screen in the finish area. Sofia Goggia, who took silver, clasped her helmet with both hands, and the crowd gasped. One American fan appeared to be crying.
Vonn was seen stretching both of her legs during TV interviews and appeared to be in pain — at the same time as the American anthem was being played to honor Shiffrin’s victory.
Vonn is slated to conclude her career with Sunday’s downhill. She told Joyce the crash shouldn’t affect her plans for that.