NEW YORK (AP) – Lindsey Vonn was tempted to speed up her return from knee surgery to rediscover the rush of racing she misses so badly.
Instead, she made what she calls a “wise” decision. The Olympic downhill champion skipped last Saturday’s season-opening race in Austria.
She will stick with her original plan to come back at home at the event in Beaver Creek, Colo., from Nov. 29-Dec. 1.
After training in Chile in August went better than expected, Vonn flirted with the idea of coming back for the giant slalom in Soelden. She decided last week to wait.
Her right knee felt great in training. But she could tell her body just wasn’t quite ready to race.
“My timing is a little bit off,” Vonn told The Associated Press in a phone interview Monday. “If I get into trouble, if I make a mistake on the course, I revert to bad habits. I’m not as technically sound as I need to be. That just takes time on the snow.”
Every decision centers on making sure she’s healthy and in top form for this winter’s Sochi Olympics. The four-time overall World Cup winner shredded her anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in a crash at the world championships in Schladming last February.
“I really wanted to compete,” Vonn said. “I’ve been really antsy. I need that adrenaline rush. I need to be back on the circuit.”
But Soelden isn’t a very important World Cup race in the big picture, and the overriding goal is to compete in Russia. The Olympics start Feb. 7 – 100 days from Tuesday.
If Vonn is there racing, she’ll be one of the biggest stars of the Sochi Games. She made the rounds in Manhattan on Monday, appearing on the “Today” show and the “Late Show” with David Letterman.
Vonn was promoting the “Thank You, Mom” campaign for sponsor Procter & Gamble. The video with her mother details the story of her devastating injury, a tale that surely will be told over and over if she’s contending for gold again a year later.
The best way to accomplish that was to put off her return just a little bit longer.
“She has another month. Colorado is going to be great and she’s going to be ready in Beaver Creek,” U.S. Ski Team Alpine director Patrick Riml said last week.
– By RACHEL COHEN, AP Sports Writer
Andrew Dampf in Soelden, Austria, contributed to this report.
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