American skier Lindsey Vonn feels more pain after strong practice run at Olympics

By From News Services and Staff Reports
Tuesday, February 16, 2010; D06

For the first time since she arrived in Vancouver, B.C., six days earlier, Lindsey Vonn skied official training runs in preparation for what was expected to be a stellar Olympics. Her Monday started out just perfectly when she posted the fastest time over the top portion of the course that will be used in Wednesday's downhill, the first women's event of the competition.

But in the afternoon, worries that Vonn hoped to dismiss were back. Her deeply bruised shin, which at one point threatened her entire program, flared up again. Her 20th-place finish -- and the pain that accompanied it -- had Vonn clearly concerned afterward.

"It went okay," she said as she walked off the hill. "It was really tough. It was really, really bumpy and really painful the whole way down, and especially in the second run -- that last jump hurt."

The injury, suffered while training for slalom on Feb. 2 in Austria, had gotten progressively better since Vonn arrived in Canada last week.

She was encouraged by an informal slalom training session on Sunday -- when she took four hard runs -- and was starting to believe the bruise might not compromise her performance. Her condition clearly was worse after the two runs.

"It was a little bit sore, but not terrible," Vonn said. "But it's already . . . feeling really bad right now. I'm a little nervous as to what it's going to be like. "

The training runs for the downhill were the first the women have been able to complete. American Julia Mancuso, the 2006 gold medalist in giant slalom, was second to Vonn in the morning run. Swedish veteran Anja Paerson was fastest over the bottom portion of the course, though that section took less than 19 seconds to cover. American Stacey Cook, who was lifted off the mountain by helicopter after a training crash last week, was able to participate, placing 14th in both sessions.

In order for an Olympic race to be staged, there must be one full training run for the entire field. With that accomplished, the women's downhill can be held Wednesday even if bad weather wipes out the final training session Tuesday.

"I'm hoping that the weather cooperates with me, and we don't have a training run tomorrow," Vonn said.

Jagr reappears

Jaromir Jagr celebrated his 38th birthday Monday at the Olympics, where he wondered if anyone would recognize him once he takes the ice representing the Czech Republic.

That should be no problem, especially now that he's growing out his hair again to show off those familiar dark curls flowing from his helmet.

Jagr is a two-time Stanley Cup winner in the NHL, and he also helped the Czech Republic win gold in 1998.

Pechstein appeals ban

Five-time Olympic speedskating champion Claudia Pechstein said she is making a last-minute appeal to compete at the Vancouver Winter Games despite a doping ban.

The 37-year-old German said on her Web site that she has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has a committee set up to handle appeals for the Olympics.

CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb said the committee had not received an application from Pechstein as of midday Monday. He declined to say whether the committee would hear any appeal.

The International Skating Union banned Pechstein for two years for abnormal blood readings. The ban lasts until February 2011.

Transportation improved

Transportation problems appeared to be improving in Vancouver. The Olympic venues spread from downtown Vancouver to Whistler Mountain, two hours away. Problems have centered mostly on Cypress Mountain -- about an hour away from the city's downtown -- where snowboard and moguls events are held.

A bus carrying reporters to women's freestyle skiing Saturday got lost before breaking down. Other buses carrying the Canadian women's moguls team broke down on two consecutive days en route to the mountain for training early last week.

Organizers said 100 new buses had been ordered to replace vehicles leased from the United States that appeared to be having mechanical issues.

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