SCHLADMING, Austria (AP) – Lindsey Vonn plans to compete in the Sochi Winter Olympics despite tearing two ligaments in her right knee and breaking a bone in her lower leg in a crash at the world championships.
“I am grateful to my fans for the outpouring of support, which has really helped me stay positive,” Vonn said in a statement on Wednesday, a day after her crash in Schladming. “I can assure you that I will work as hard as humanly possible to be ready to represent my country next year in Sochi.”
The Olympic downhill champion will have surgery next week at home in Vail, Colo. Because of intense media attention, neither she nor the U.S. Ski Team would say when she’s leaving Austria.
“She’ll be heading back to Vail (Colorado) and I will be doing surgery on her knee early next week,” team physician William Sterett told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Vonn was released from the hospital late Tuesday and returned to the team hotel.
“Lindsey is doing well,” said Sterett, who has been treating Vonn since her youth. “She’s in good spirits.”
Vonn, who was airlifted to the hospital, tore her anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in her right knee. The broken bone was described as a lateral tibial plateau fracture.
“The fracture is called an impaction fracture,” Sterett said. “It should not require any surgery. It just needs to be non-weight on crutches.”
Sterett would not set a return date to skiing for Vonn until after the surgery, but other doctors believe she will be sidelined for up to eight months.
The U.S. team said the four-time overall champion will be back in time for the next World Cup season.
The accident came after Vonn landed a jump in the opening race at the championships, the super-G. As she hit the ground, her right leg gave way and she spun forward, throwing an arm out to protect herself. She ended up on her back as she smashed through a gate.
“The hospital staff did an excellent job with X-rays, MRI,” Sterett said. “She had very good care and they were very, very helpful.”
Sterett said Vonn was “a little banged up, and sore everywhere.”
“She’s intently focusing on the next step and the next step now is getting from point A to point B, with point B being next season,” he said. “She’s determined and upbeat.”
Sterett left open the possibility of Vonn requiring more than one surgery, saying that with these types of injuries “that’s always a possibility.”
However, the plan for now was only one operation.
“I want to say thank you to the amazing medical staff that cared for me,” Vonn said. “I plan on returning to Vail as soon as I can to have the necessary surgeries.”
By ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)