Wednesday, February 17, 2010

U.S.A.'s Lindsey Vonn Wins Gold Medal in 2010 Olympic Downhill!

U.S.A. Teammate Julie Mancuso takes Silver!


Olympics Photos by Clive Mason of Getty Images

Vonn ~ 16; Mancuso ~ 10

I am so happy about this - even emotional. I love the entire fight the pain scenario. NBC Olympic Blog reported that Vonn had tears in her eyes in the finish zone. Vonn had to wait through some top competitors' runs before being able to be confident of her victory.

NBC Slideshow of Lindsey Vonn in action, and of Lindsey and Julie Mancuso on the medal stand.

Previous End Zone re Vonn's injury:

Lindsey Vonn, i.e. the no doubt best American skier ever, the no doubt best woman skier in the world, the two-time World Cup Overall Champion, has a painful bruised shin, and might not be able to win any medal in these Olympics.

I have experience with playing through painful sports injuries. Yet, as an adult, when I allowed my son's batted one hop line drive to smash squarely into my shin, it turned out to be one of the sharply painful and lingering injuries I've had. I could not, for instance, have sucked it up and run full speed for more than a short distance. Even full speed for a few steps would have caused tears. The pain was intense.

Lindsey Vonn's injury, incurred last week, is in a shin location which must be pressed forward against the ski boot during a run. It's as if a stone is being compressed between the ski boot and an extremely swollen and tender bone bruise in the shin. Picabo Street made the salient point: you can press through pain once, but soon the body shuts down and will not allow you to do it again and again. If Lindsey Vonn is to compete, she must press through pain all the way down the hill - over and over and over and over and over, and a bunch more overs. If she involuntarily backs off the pain, even once, by accident: she cannot win.


One of her German trainers is a former World Cup skier. He told Sports Illustrated:
"The first time I saw her ski, I said 'This is a crazy girl. No one takes chances like she does, no one pushes every edge to the limit.'"
Born in Minnesota, Vonn retains traces of the Minnesota accent. Her family moved to Vail to further her career, and she currently resides in Vail. The town has rallied around her as it's official favorite athlete to root for.


Is the moment gone? No one knows, not even Lindsey Vonn. The injury is mysterious. She could wake up any day: tomorrow, a week from now, and suddenly have enough reduced swelling and reduced tenderness that she could compete at a high level. Or not. No one knows. That's part of what makes the story so compelling, so potentially tragic, so potentially breathtaking. We've become accustomed to doctors accurately predicting the timetables for returns from injuries. With this injury, even the doctors do not know. Everything is on the table: she could win everything, nothing, or anything in between. Drama.


Now, Lindsey Vonn has her most difficult turnaround: in less than 24 hours (beginning at 9:30 AM on Thur ~ Downhill; and 12:30 PM ~ Slalom), the two races of the Women's Super Combined, aka the "Super-G", begin. How much residual pain or swelling might or might not build up in Lindsey Vonn's shin as a result of her pushing against her injury in today's race? The answer remains unpredictable - and it remains unpredictable even to Lindsey Vonn and her doctors. The drama continues.

After tomorrow's Super-G Women's Combined, the remaining women's races have at least a day's rest time in between. This ought allow Lindsey Vonn's shin to recuperate between races; ought increase her chances of success in those races. It's tomorrow's Super-G Women's Combined, consisting of two grueling races less than 24 hours after today's Downhill, which poses the big challenge vis a vis recuperation after traumatizing the shin.

Note: the Downhill course, which will also be used in tomorrow's Super-G, is treacherous. 9 skiers crashed today.

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