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Ski Champ Lindsey Vonn Airlifted After Crashing in Race

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(CNN) — Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn suffered a “complex knee injury” when she crashed during the opening day super-G at the Alpine Ski World Championships in Austria Tuesday, doctors said.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association said the four-time Alpine World Cup champion was airlifted from the race course in Schladming, Austria, to a hospital. Her injuries are not life-threatening, a hospital spokesman said.

Vonn, 28, does not need immediate surgery on the “complex torn ligament” in her right knee, said Dr. Christian Kaulfersch, who is treating her at the Schladming Hospital.

U.S. team officials are considering if she should fly back to the United States or remain in Europe for treatment, he said.

The U.S. team’s website reported that Vonn will be ruled out for the rest of this season, but is expected to return for the 2013-14 World Cup campaign and next February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.

She wrote in a special column published in The Denver Post that the women’s super-G runs might be postponed Tuesday because of weather.

“I’ve been trying to be patient and stay calm, but it’s pretty tough with the way the weather has been,” Vonn wrote. “It snowed a lot Sunday night, there was no training possible Monday on the race hill, then it rained most of Monday afternoon and evening.”

The heavy snow meant Monday’s free skiing session, in which she could learn about the race course’s terrain and conditions, was canceled, she wrote.

“None of our staff has been on the hill,” she wrote. “We don’t know what shape the hill is in. We don’t know anything about it.”

She was very familiar with the hill since it is where the World Cup finals were held last year, she wrote, “but it always feels a little awkward when you don’t get a chance to free ski the hill before you race. It’s tricky to know the terrain when all you have to go on is course inspection the morning of the race.”

Vonn, who won the downhill gold in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, is just three wins behind Annemarie Moser-Proll’s record of 62 World Cup wins.

She was coming back from an intestinal illness that hospitalized her in November.

World Cup leader Tina Maze won gold in Tuesday’s super-G ahead of Lara Gut of Switzerland and third-placed American Julia Mancuso.

The Slovenian continued her dominance this season as another big rival, two-time Olympic champion Maria Hofl-Riesch of Germany, also crashed out of the race.

“This is very important for me, it is my first speed medal,” Maze said on the FIS website.

“I came here as one of the top favorites and proved my good shape. I knew it would be a long day today and was ready for it, even after all the postponements. Slovenia is such a small country and I am very happy and proud I can take this gold medal back with me.”

Mancuso won the fifth world championship medal of her career, and her third in the super-G discipline — one of two “speed events” along with the downhill, compared to the “technical” slalom and giant slalom races.

“I think that might’ve been one of the most difficult races I’ve ever been in. It was a really long course. I didn’t know I’d be so tired at the end of the run,” the 28-year-old said.


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