Shin injury leaves Vonn facing fitness race

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The Independent Online

Lindsey Vonn's chances of claiming Olympic gold to complete her much-decorated CV have been put in doubt after the overwhelming favourite for the women's downhill, and the US team's stellar name, disclosed that she is carrying an injury.

The 25-year-old, winner of eight of the 11 downhill and Super G events this season, sustained an "excruciatingly painful" deep muscle bruise in her right shin during training in Austria and has been unable to ski for the last seven days. Vonn, the overall World Cup winner in 2008 and 2009, only arrived in Vancouver yesterday ahead of tomorrow's opening ceremony having delayed her departure from Europe for treatment. She had been due to compete in all five of the skiing events.

"Essentially the first training run that I had, I crashed on the slalom and I hurt my shin," said Vonn. "I didn't know what to do. I couldn't walk the first day. I was freaking out. I thought that a few days before the Olympics everything is coming crashing down. I actually can walk normally now without pain but I tried putting on my boot a few times and it's very painful.

"I was just standing in the hotel room barely flexing forward and it was excruciatingly painful and I've got to try to ski downhill at 75, 80 miles an hour with a lot of forces pushed up against my shin and I don't honestly know if I'll be able to do it. I'm coming into these Olympics a lot more unsure than I was a few weeks ago."

The practice runs for the women begin today and Vonn hopes to be able to take some part. "I have to play it by ear and and hope it gets better," she said.

Vonn's loss would be a sizeable blow to the organisers, but there was some good news yesterday – it started snowing. The Local Organising Committee had already started importing snow to cover Cypress Mountain, but its natural arrival brings timely relief, especially after yesterday's men's downhill training run was held up by fog. "We're very happy – we've been waiting for this for a long time," said Stephen Bourdeau of the LOC.