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posted: 2/12/2010 12:01 AM

Vonn upbeat after passing first test

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  • Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn says she feels her injured shin is "finally progressing a bit."

      Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn says she feels her injured shin is "finally progressing a bit."
    Associated Press

 

WHISTLER, British Columbia - Each of Thursday's steps was seen as a sign that, yes, Lindsey Vonn might very well compete in five Olympic races, after all, and might be able to think once again about medals, not medicine.

Painkillers and numbing cream for the American's badly bruised right shin? They seemed to dull the aching.

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Wearing ski boots, something painful and depressing every time she tried it last week? She yanked them on and did a course inspection.

Actually skiing down a hill for the first time since getting injured Feb. 2, albeit only in a free run and not on the official course?

It hurt, sure, but was the most exciting step of all, one that convinced Vonn she was ready to take part in the opening women's Olympic downhill training session later Thursday.

Alas, that practice wound up being called off after only two racers because of thick fog and low visibility - yet even that development was deemed encouraging by the group known as the Vonntourage.

"I was happy to be back on snow today," Vonn said. "My shin was still very painful, but I feel like the injury is finally progressing a bit. I am always disappointed when a training run is canceled, but in this situation I definitely welcome the extra day to heal."

Indeed, her husband, Thomas, called the cancellation "fantastic."

"It's not like all her competitors are getting multiple runs down the course. Nobody got to ski it, really, today," said Thomas Vonn, who serves as a coach and chief adviser to his wife. "So it's another day of healing, and hopefully tomorrow she feels even better."

He said she still aims to race in all five women's Alpine events at these Olympics, which certainly would be a relief to the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Olympic Committee and her fans - to say nothing of NBC and her various sponsors.

"She's never taken any races off the table. It's going to be day to day. If she can do it, she's going to do it," Thomas Vonn said. "But she's not pulling out of anything at this point, and it's looking better than it was yesterday."

U.S. Ski Team women's coach Jim Tracy was as optimistic as anyone.

He knows full well her history of brushing aside injuries and pain - whether it was making the quick transition from hospital bed to starting gate after a horrific crash in downhill training at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Said Tracy of his team's most famous member: "She'll be ready."

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