NORMAN — VAL D’ISERE, France — Lindsey Vonn skied out and clutched her knee in pain in the World Cup downhill race won by Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden of Switzerland on Saturday.
Vonn, with boyfriend Tiger Woods watching on in the finish area, lost her balance and her left ski went up in the air, putting all her weight on her surgically repaired right knee as she skied off course.
She didn’t fall but grimaced as she pulled up, clutching her knee in a worrying sign ahead of the Sochi Olympics. However, Vonn remains optimistic that she can be ready for Sochi.
“I’m going to stick to a similar plan that I was on before,” she said. “I just need to be more careful of how many races I do.”
Kaufmann-Abderhalden earned her first World Cup victory, finishing in 1 minute, 47.28 seconds and beating defending overall champion Tina Maze of Slovenia by 0.29 seconds.
“It was the first win, but the season began very well for me in Beaver (Creek) and Lake Louise. I had three very good downhill races,” Kaufmann-Abderhalden said. “I have done a lot of hard work since the summer, a lot of physical training.”
Vonn needed surgery in February to reconstruct two knee ligaments after a crash at the world championships, and then partially re-tore one of them in November.
“I didn’t hurt myself more than I’m already hurt,” Vonn said. “It was a small compression, and it was fully loaded on the right ski and my knee just completely gave out. I tried to pressure the ski again and it gave out again. I had no chance of making that gate, unfortunately.”
Vonn expects to build up her leg muscle and avoid races for a while.
“I’m at risk of doing more damage to my knee and my meniscus,” she said. “So I’m going to play it safe and race really minimal races. Probably one or two before the Olympics.”