US coach: Vonn plans to return to racing next month
By ANDREW DAMPF
AP Sports Writer
SELVA DI VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) - Lindsey Vonn is hoping to return from injury next month and resume her pursuit of the all-time World Cup wins record, according to the U.S. Ski Team's head coach.
"That's what we're hopeful for. That's the plan," Paul Kristofic told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Vonn hyperextended and sprained a ligament in her knee during a training crash on Nov. 19. She also suffered a bone bruise in the crash, in which she fell on a turn, did the splits and went into the protective fence.
January would be an opportune time for Vonn to return, since there are three consecutive weekends of speed races, downhill and super-G - which are Vonn's specialties.
The series opens Jan. 12-13 in St. Anton, Austria, followed by stops in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. A win or two in that stretch would move Vonn closer to the mark of 86 victories set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark.
Vonn has 82 wins.
However, Vonn has not returned to on-snow training yet.
"She's just doing rehab and strength and conditioning," Kristofic said, adding that there is no precise date set for her return to ski training. "It really depends on how things go when she's not on snow. It's sort of day by day."
The 34-year-old Vonn was planning to retire at the end of this season but the injury prompted her to announce recently that she plans to come back for one more series of speed races in Lake Louise, Alberta, next season.
Kristofic said Vonn is also expected to compete in one more final major event - the world championships in Are, Sweden, in February.
"It's in the plans to do it," he said.
Meanwhile, Olympic downhill champion Sofia Goggia is also hoping to return from injury in January.
Goggia broke a bone in her right ankle during a fall in giant slalom training in Hintertux, Austria, in October.
"She has a doctor's appointment on or about Dec. 21 and hopefully she'll be cleared for on-snow training before the end of this month," Italy coach Giovanni Feltrin said.
"The idea is for her to return in January," Feltrin added. "The exact date I don't know but it would be great if it's in Cortina."
Both Goggia and Vonn won downhills in Cortina last season.
Mikaela Shiffrin will also be missing from speed races Tuesday and Wednesday in Val Gardena. The overall World Cup leader is resting after winning her last three races and with a big set of events coming up in her specialties of slalom and giant slalom.
"I won't be racing as my team and I needed a rest and reboot after the busy last six weeks," Shiffrin wrote on social media Sunday.
The next downhill on Shiffrin's schedule is in Cortina on Jan. 19, Kristofic said.
With Breezy Johnson, Jacqueline Wiles, Alice McKennis also out injured, that leaves only Laurenne Ross and Alice Merryweather to represent the U.S. team in Val Gardena.
The Gardena races were originally scheduled for Val d'Isere, France, this weekend but were moved due to a lack of snow in the French resort.
While the U.S. has plenty of starting spots available in Gardena, Kristofic said that the team's younger athletes "are not ready to race World Cup downhill, especially on a men's track."
It's the first time that the Saslong course will host women's World Cup races, having been a classic stop on the men's circuit for a half-century.
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