A fraction of a second is all it takes for things to go horribly wrong. Lindsey Vonn experienced that firsthand, but she’s one of the lucky ones.
Vonn was injured in a crash during the Super-G of the Alpine world championships on Februrary 5 that could have ended much worse for the world champion skier. She spiraled out of control and struck a fence, forcing Vonn to be airlifted off the slope and to a hospital.
The crash looked like it could have been much worse than the end result, but Vonn was still left with two torn ligaments in her right knee and a fracture of her lower leg. Fortunately for the three-time gold medalist, surgery was successful, and her recovery time should be relatively short.
According to Pat Graham of Yahoo! Sports, Vonn could be back on a pair of skis as early as November, just in time for the World Cup. And an early return is exactly what skiing needs.
Vonn is known for being one of the most dominant skiers in the world, and her success partly stems from the determination that she has shown throughout her career. According to Dr. Bill Sterett (who operated on her knee), her tenacity and desire to succeed hasn’t wavered, as quoted by Graham:
She's in full-charge mode. She's like, 'When can I start upper-body strengthening? When can I start working on my core? When can I spin on a stationary bike with my other leg?'
I haven't seen a hint of post-traumatic depression from her, or her feeling sorry for herself or her sad or asking, 'Why now?' She's all about, 'When can I? When can I? When can I?'
That mentality is not only great for Vonn, but it’s also a terrific sign for a sport that thrives on pushing the limits and finding the motivation to go beyond what has already been done. And as this tweet from Vonn illustrates, her attitude can also be an inspiration for anyone who has gotten knocked down:
It’s hard to not admire an athlete with the drive and determination that Vonn displays. While she’ll be out of the spotlight and off of the slopes for the foreseeable future, returning from reconstructive surgery is not an easy task. The fact that she could return for World Cup action in November proves the kind of positive influence that she is on competitive skiing.
As is the case with any sport, athletes at the top of their game leave a big vacancy when they miss time with injuries. Skiing will continue to be as competitive and exciting as always, but it needs one of the best in the world back in action to keep the sport moving in the right direction.