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US Ski Team: Vonn cleared for downhill training

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) — Lindsey Vonn was cleared to get back on a World Cup course for downhill training, the latest step as she works to return from a right knee injury and get ready for the Sochi Olympics.

Now Vonn — and the rest of the skiing world — will wait to find out whether she'll actually be racing by the end of this week.

The four-time overall World Cup champion and reigning Olympic downhill gold medalist is expected to start in Wednesday's first official training session at Lake Louise, the U.S. Ski Team said Tuesday.

The team added that not until Thursday would a decision be made on whether Vonn will return to competition for the first time since tearing right knee ligaments in a high-speed crash at the world championships last February. The scheduled races at Lake Louise — a site Vonn has dominated in the past, including three-victory sweeps in 2011 and 2012 — are downhills on Friday and Saturday, with a super-G on Sunday.

Vonn will start 10th in Wednesday's training run.

"She's trying to come back as quick as possible, and it just happens to be that Lake Louise is on the (schedule) right now," U.S. women's coach Alex Hoedlmoser said. "It's a very good place for her to come back and try because she's very familiar with the course and had success here."

The U.S. Ski Team said Vonn "felt strong" after doing super-G training in her hometown of Vail, Colo., last weekend, and that her surgeon, Dr. Bill Sterett, feels "her knee is stable."

"I hope she is in good shape. I hope she's fit," said Atle Skaardal, the women's race director for the International Ski Federation (FIS). "Because racing downhill is not something you do if you are not in too good shape."

Originally, Tuesday was supposed to be the first day of downhill training, but that was called off because of travel delays from the women's previous World Cup stop at Beaver Creek, Colo.

Vonn was working toward a return to racing there last week, until wiping out during a training run on Nov. 19, and partially tearing a ligament in her surgically repaired knee.

The American told The Associated Press over the weekend that she needs another operation on her knee but is trying to put it off as long as possible in order to be able to ski at the Sochi Games, which begin in a little more than two months.

Vonn is three race wins from equaling the World Cup women's record of 62 held by Austria's Annemarie Moser-Proell. Of her 59 career World Cup race victories, 14 have come at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies.

She is so successful — and comfortable — on this particular slope, she petitioned FIS in October 2012 to allow her to compete in a men's World Cup race at Lake Louise. That request was turned down.

"This is kind of her playground here," Skaardal said, "and she could probably not ask for a better place to do a comeback."

 

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