From a fractured ankle to a thumb sliced on a bottle of bubbly, from broken arm bones to torn knee ligaments, all manner of injuries has interrupted Lindsey Vonn’s highly successful skiing career.
There was even the time the American was helicoptered off a mountain after a body-battering crash during downhill training at the 2006 Turin Olympics. About 48 hours later, she was on her skis, competing.
That’s what Vonn does: She gets hurt, gets up and gets back out there.
“She’s relentless toward her goals. It’s not easy to continue to fight like she’s done,” said Vonn’s longtime sports physical therapist, Lindsay Winninger. “With each injury she’s had, she’s learned something about herself and her body. I believe she’s a better athlete for it.”
The 33-year-old Vonn says that her main focus until the Pyeongchang Olympics open Feb. 9 is to stay healthy.
A look at some of the times she was unable to do that:
BROKEN RIGHT ARM, November 2016
Hurt during a training run in her home state of Colorado. Needed surgery. The injury led to nerve damage; she couldn’t move her fingers initially and taped a ski pole to her right glove when she returned to racing. Vonn said later she worried about whether she would be able to use her hand in a normal way ever again and has called it the “hardest recovery of my career.”
FRACTURES IN LEFT KNEE, February 2016
Crashed during a World Cup super-G in Andorra. Taken off the mountain in a sled . Competed again the next day, but then went nearly a year without participating in a World Cup race afterward.
BROKEN LEFT ANKLE, August 2015
Injured during preseason training camp in New Zealand. Wasn’t ready to return at the start of the World Cup season in October, but did compete in late November.
TORN LIGAMENTS IN RIGHT KNEE, BROKEN BONE IN RIGHT LEG, February 2013
Vonn needed reconstructive surgery after tumbling when she landed in a patch of soft snow during the super-G at the 2013 world championships in Schladming, Austria. She tried to come back but got hurt again in a crash while training in Colorado in November and during a World Cup downhill at Val d’Isere, France, in December, tearing her repaired ACL and requiring another operation on her right knee. Announced in January 2014 she would have to miss the Sochi Olympics.
CONCUSSION, February 2011
Injured her head in a fall during World Cup practice in Austria. About a week later, she initially decided to compete — “skiing in a fog,” Vonn called it — at the world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, before eventually withdrawing.
BRUISED RIGHT SHIN, February 2010
Slammed her right leg in slalom practice 10 days before the Vancouver Olympics started. Initially, could barely walk. Needed painkillers and a Novocaine-like numbing cream; also smeared a semisoft Austrian cheese, topfen, on her leg as a home remedy. Raced in the Winter Games, earning two medals: the first Olympic downhill gold for an American woman, and a bronze in the super-G. But she spun out of control during the giant slalom, breaking her right pinkie.
BRUISED LEFT FOREARM, December 2009
Crashed on the first run of a World Cup giant slalom in Lienz, Austria, losing her balance after a sharp turn and falling backward. She wound up not missing a race.
CUT RIGHT THUMB, February 2009
Safe to say Vonn’s oddest injury came off the slopes during the world championships in Val d’Isere, when she needed surgery after hurting herself with a champagne bottle during a photo op gone awry after winning gold in the downhill. “I’m not going to be opening champagne bottles any time soon — probably not for the rest of my life,” Vonn said about a month later. “That’s a mistake you definitely learn from.”
HYPER-EXTENDED RIGHT KNEE, BONE BRUISE, February 2007
Partially tore her right ACL in training. Sat out her last two races at the world championships in Are, Sweden, after winning two silvers earlier. Missed the rest of that World Cup season.
ASSORTED BRUISES AND ACHES, February 2006
Scary fall during downhill training at the Turin Olympics caused a bruised thigh, aching back and sore pelvis. She left the hospital — even trying to grab her belongings and sneak out when the checkout process was taking longer than she wanted — and competed less than 48 hours later. She wound up racing in all four events she’d planned, with a top result of seventh in the super-G. “It’s definitely weird,” she said back then, “going from the hospital bed to the start gate.”
AP Sports Writer Pat Graham contributed to this report.
More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org/