Vonn returns to Europe, begins training again
Lindsey Vonn is feeling better and has returned to Europe to train. Meanwhile, it's less likely Bode Miller will race this season.
Vonn started training for a return to the World Cup circuit after a midseason break to recover from an intestinal illness.
Rainer Salzgeber, the racing director of Vonn's equipment supplier Head, told The Associated Press that the four-time overall winner arrived in Austria on Wednesday and began light training on Thursday. He said Vonn plans to race in the downhill and super-G on Jan. 12-13 in St. Anton, Austria.
Miller still hasn't started training, working his way back after left knee surgery at the end of last season. Salzgeber said Miller was still expected back in Europe at the end of the month, but likely won't race this season.
"I don't know what he expects, but I don't expect it," Salzgeber said
Vonn has not competed since falling in the opening run of a giant slalom Dec. 16 in Courchevel, France. After that event, the American announced she was going home to recover from an intestinal illness that landed her in the hospital in November.
Vonn is training in Hinterreit, the Austrian resort where she crashed badly in training two seasons ago and sustained a concussion. This week, ski technician Heinz Haemmerle joined her at the resort.
"Heinz said she did a lot of free skiing today, and did some (giant slalom)," Salzgeber said. "The plan has always been for her to come back at St. Anton."
U.S. women's head coach Alex Hoedlmoser wouldn't confirm Vonn's return in St. Anton.
"We all want her to come back and she obviously wants to race but it will depend on how well things are going during training the next couple of days," he said. "The first downhill training is (next) Thursday, so there is no hurry. We still have some time left."
A return at the Austria events would mean Vonn will miss a total of six races, leaving little chance of defending her overall title. She has dropped from fourth to sixth in the standings, trailing leader Tina Maze of Slovenia by 725 points.
After St. Anton, the women have a slalom in Flachau, Austria, followed by more speed races next weekend in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. It remains unclear if Vonn will enter every event the rest of the season.
"That depends on how it goes," Salzgeber said.
However, returning in St. Anton -- on a course Vonn has won on before -- gives her plenty of time to get back into top form for the season's highlight, the world championships Feb. 5-17 in Schladming, Austria. A year before the Sochi Olympics, Vonn will be looking to regain the downhill and super-G world titles that Austria's Elisabeth Goergl took from her in 2011 when Vonn was slowed by the concussion.
Last November, Vonn stayed two nights in a hospital in Vail, Colo., after suffering from severe intestinal pain. She returned to the circuit and won three consecutive races in Lake Louise, Alberta.
Vonn also won a super-G on Dec. 8 in St. Moritz, Switzerland, but struggled in her last three races. She had an uncharacteristic fall in downhill, her best event, in Val d'Isere, France.
With 57 career wins, Vonn needs just five more to match all-time leader Annemarie Moser-Proell of Austria.
Associated Press writer Eric Willemsen in Zagreb, Croatia, contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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