Skier Vonn to have surgery in US next week after crash

February 6, 2013 - 6:30 AM

Austria Alpine Skiing Worlds Vonn Crash

In this photo taken Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, U.S. ski racer Lindsey Vonn attends a press conference in Schladming, Austria. Vonn crashed during the super-G at the Alpine Skiing world championships Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 and has been taken by helicopter to a hospital from the world championships after apparently injuring her right knee. The American lost balance on her right leg while landing after a jump. Her ski came off immediately, and Vonn slid off course and hit a gate before coming to a standstill. Vonn received medical treatment on the slope for 12 minutes before going to the hospital. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

SCHLADMING, Austria (AP) — Lindsey Vonn will head home for surgery in Colorado next week after tearing two ligaments in her right knee and breaking a bone in her lower leg in a crash at the world championships.

U.S. Ski Team physician William Sterett was with Vonn on the snow after the crash on Tuesday, then at a Schladming hospital where she was airlifted to.

"She'll be heading back to Vail and I will be doing surgery on her knee early next week," Sterett told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Vonn was released from the hospital late Tuesday and returned to the team hotel.

"Lindsey is doing well. I just finished seeing her," said Sterett, who has been treating Vonn since she was a child. "She's in good spirits."

Vonn tore her anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in her right knee. The broken bone was described as a lateral tibial plateau fracture.

"The fracture is called an impaction fracture," Sterett said. "It should not require any surgery. It just needs to be non-weight on crutches."

Sterett would not set a return date to skiing for Vonn until after the surgery.

Other doctors have speculated that Vonn could be looking at six to eight months before she's back on skis.

The team said the four-time overall champion will be back for the next World Cup season and will compete at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The harrowing accident came after Vonn landed off a jump in the opening race at the championships, the super-G. As she hit the ground, her right leg gave way and she spun down face first, throwing an arm out to protect herself. She ended up on her back as she smashed through a gate.

"The hospital staff did an excellent job with X-rays, MRI," Sterett said. "She had very good care and they were very, very helpful."

Sterett said Vonn was "a little banged up, and sore everywhere," without going into details on her bruises.

"She's in good spirits and upbeat. She's intently focusing on the next step and the next step now is getting from point A to point B, with point B being next season," he said. "She's determined and upbeat."

Sterett left open the possibility of Vonn requiring more than one surgery, saying that with these types of injuries "that's always a possibility." However, the plan for now was only one operation.

Due to intense media attention, Sterett would not say when Vonn will leave Schladming.