After 22 months on the sidelines, awaiting a recovering shin and recuperating from surgery on both knees, most sportspeople might relish simply returning to the fold, rejoining old friends and rediscovering the joy of competition. Veteran skiing champion Lindsey Vonn, though, found herself going one better when, in her first event in almost two years, she claimed the 60th World Cup race win of her illustrious career. Adding a feather to her already considerable cap, Vonn overcame her various health challenges to achieve what, in the context, proved a remarkable victory.
Demonstrating the determination which has characterised a career vaulted in past victories, Vonn’s instantaneous return to winning ways is testament to her own dedication and sheer quality on the skis. Competing at Lake Louise, and winning her fifteenth title at the resort known colloquially among her colleagues as “Lake Lindsey”, such is her history of success at the venue, Vonn took little time to find her bearings, taking first place in the downhill in a time of 1 minute 50.48 seconds, nearly a full half second clear of second placed compatriot Stacey Cook. Marking the tenth year since her first win at Lake Louise in 2004, Vonn’s successful comeback speaks to both her consistency and her drive to win.
With eyes on both the record number of World Cup race wins, now just two shy of record holder Annemarie Moser-Proell’s 62, and the prospect of a commanding team USA victory at the world championships in February, held in her home country in Vail, Colorado. Sharing the podium with two fellow Americans in the first occurrence of such an instance in a World Cup event. Speaking of second placed Cook and third placed Julia Mancuso, Vonn stated “I think our team is very strong right now”, while Cook noted “it really helps having Lindsey back, and her competitiveness and enthusiasm for the sport … when we thrive is when we push each other”. Encouraged by her surprise victory in her first event following her return, Vonn’s attention once again turned to the prospect of overtaking Austrian Moser-Proell, confirming that the record is “always something I kind of think about … to motivate me”, noting that her instant return to winning form “definitely gives me a lot of confidence”.
More than simply impressing others with her comeback victory, Vonn stands as another, potentially career-saving lesson for others who undergo similar health concerns. Extolling the virtues of a measured approach to recovery, concentrating on her quest to “keep improving”. Knowing from firsthand experience, having compromised a reconstructed ligament in her pursuit of fitness before the 2014 Sochi Games that left her sidelined for both the Winter Olympics and further contests, Vonn now passes on her lesson learned, having taken a more considered approach to the approach to her current comeback, pleased to find her “knee feels really good” having been given the time needed to properly heal. Now able to be “back to doing what I used to do”, secure from any changes to her skiing technique that a mishandled recovery might otherwise necessitate, Vonn might be able to look forward to continued success.
As Vonn continues to rediscover her form in her pursuits of reaching her full potential, careful in her well-designed and intelligent response to her own recovery, she stands as both a paragon of committed determination in sport and a lesson to be learned in how to ensure a return to form with the correct response to recovery. With her own measure approach Vonn has ensured, in her own words, her position “back at the top” and her ability to once again experience “an amazing day”.
How might Vonn ensure both future successes and the maintenance of her fitness?