Vonn’s crash raises more World Cup safety questions
BORMIO, Italy – Lindsey Vonn is the latest on a long list of high-profile skiers injured this season, raising more questions over water-injected courses and safety measures.
Vonn’s crash Monday appeared to be the product of an icy patch on the giant slalom course in Lienz, Austria. Just after she came sharply around a gate, the American lost control and was sent tumbling down the mountain airborne with her skis over her head. She fell hard but didn’t break any bones.
Still, her bruised left arm was placed in a splint, and Vonn’s husband Thomas was critical of the course preparation.
“They made the conditions pure ice directly at the gate and then grippy everywhere else, which in my opinion is the most dangerous condition a racer can encounter,” Thomas Vonn, a former U.S. Ski Team racer, wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
“What the FIS is doing with the World Cup right now would be the equivalent of Formula One putting on a race on a nice dry track, except instead of leaving the track dry they decide to spray oil randomly every couple hundred yards.”
Injecting courses with water to create super icy conditions was formerly used only for men’s races. Lately, it has come to the women’s circuit.
Vonn was also critical of an icy slalom course in Aspen, Colo., in November, likening the surface to “pond ice” after 24 skiers failed to finish their runs.
Vonn wasn’t alone Monday, with rival Maria Riesch also failing to finish the opening run and teammate Julia Mancuso – the Olympic giant slalom champion – losing a large chunk of time after hitting a gate.
While Vonn could return for Tuesday’s slalom, downhill world champion John Kucera, World Cup slalom champion Jean-Baptiste Grange and former women’s overall World Cup winner Nicole Hosp are among a number of racers already ruled out of February’s Vancouver Olympics.
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