The surgeon who operated on Lindsey Vonn’s right knee was “optimistic for a full recovery” after she shredded two ligaments during a crash last week at the world championships.
Dr. Bill Sterett, a physician for the U.S. Ski Team, performed the procedure on the four-time overall World Cup champion Sunday morning in Vail, Colo. In a release issued by the ski team, Sterett said the surgery went well and that she was resting comfortably.
“The overall success rate for ACL/MCL surgery is very good. Modern surgical techniques combined with aggressive rehabilitation will help Lindsey make a full recovery,” said Sterett, who’s also a surgeon at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics. “She will do everything in her power to return as quickly as possible to competitive skiing.”
Vonn tore her anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments last week during the super-G in Schladming, Austria. She also broke a bone in her lower leg.
Sterett said it was too early to issue a specific prognosis and didn’t have a return date to skiing for Vonn. But other doctors believe she could be sidelined for up to eight months.
That would give her time to get back to the slopes for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, which are a year away. Shortly after her accident, Vonn said she fully intended to be in the starting gate for Sochi to defend her Olympic downhill title from the 2010 Vancouver Games.
The 28-year-old Vonn was hurt last Tuesday when she was lifted into the air off a jump in the opening race at the championships. Upon landing, her right leg gave way and she spun down face first, throwing an arm out to protect herself. Vonn ended up on her back as she smashed through a gate.
She received medical treatment on the snow before being airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in Schladming. A few days, later she flew home to Vail.
This has been an injury- and illness-riddled season for Vonn. She took a monthlong break from the World Cup circuit to regain her strength after an intestinal illness that struck in November. When she returned, she looked like the Vonn of old as she steadily regained her form and won two races last month. Her win in the giant slalom at Maribor, Slovenia, on Jan. 26 was the 59th victory of her career. She’s three away from tying the women’s record held by Annemarie Moser-Proell of Austria.
While her primary goal is to be ready for Sochi, Vonn ideally wants to be back for the World Cup speed races in Lake Louise, Alberta, in late November or early December. She’s been so successful there — winning 14 times — that it’s become known as “Lake Lindsey.”
Comebacks are hardly new for Vonn, who has been plagued by injuries at her last six major championships — from a thumb she sliced on a champagne bottle at the 2009 worlds in Val d’Isere, France, to a bruised shin that she treated with the unorthodox remedy of Austrian cheese at the Vancouver Olympics.