By Philip Hersh, Tribune reporter
9:19 PM CDT, October 2, 2013
PARK CITY -- Lindsey Vonn was in Ohio, hanging with a guy she did not name but referred to as “my boyfriend,” who is playing in the Presidents Cup there this week. She addressed the Olympic media summit in an 18-minute video call with audio so muddy it was hard to be sure about everything she said.
But Tiger Woods’ girlfriend, the greatest skier in U.S. history, made it clear her comeback from a serious knee injury is going well enough that she may race in the opening World Cup of the season, an Oct. 26 giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.
“I feel physically 100 percent,” Vonn said. “Now it’s a matter of kind of breaking into the unknown. I haven’t pushed my knee to 100 percent yet. I haven't tried to simulate a race yet.”
Vonn tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in her right knee and broke the upper end of a right leg bone when she lost control and crashed midway through the Feb. 5 super-G, at the world championships. She underwent surgery five days later.
At the time of the crash, her chances to reach the 2014 Olympics in top form seemed severely compromised.
She returned to snow Aug. 31 in Portillo, Chile, and she said her knee has stood up to the training she did there.
“It’s not that I'm doubtful or don't trust in my knee or my body,” she said. “I don't feel any pain. I don't see any swelling. It's a matter of feeling comfortable going that fast again.”
Vonn, 28, the reigning Olympic downhill champion, will leave soon for Europe and decide after training there whether she would be comfortable racing in Soelden. If not, she said her return would come at the Nov. 29 World Cup downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo.
"I'm not going to race until I'm 100 percent," she said.
Vonn said she plans to drop the slalom from her racing program this season, which means she will not compete in the Super Combined (downhill and slalom) in the 2014 Olympics.
She rejected the idea that getting a break from the enforced layoff after surgery was beneficial as a form of rejuvenation and motivation.
"I am someone that thrives on chaos," Vonn said. "I need a lot going on. I need to be skiing. I need to be training."
Some would say Vonn created that chaos by getting with Woods, guaranteeing that paparazzi and tabloid journalists would shadow her after she and the golfer went public about the relationship in March.
Last month, her representatives had to deny a National Enquirer report that she had been seen canoodling with another man at a Jay-Z concert.
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