Lindsey Vonn, Bode Miller both affected by recent snowfall in Vancouver

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 17, 2010; D06

WHISTLER, B.C. -- Snow fell all over the mountains here Monday night -- from the peaks to the village at the base -- and forced yet another change to the ever-evolving schedule for Alpine skiing at the Olympics. Thus, Bode Miller's shot at a second medal of these Games was delayed, but Lindsey Vonn's first race should go off as scheduled Wednesday -- and Vonn will be in it despite her shaky status due to a bruised shin.

"I'm really excited about the race tomorrow," Vonn said Tuesday, when she took a day off from training to rest the injury. "It's been a lot of hurry up and race with all these cancellations. But with my injury I think that was the best possible scenario for me, getting that extra time to heal. I'm definitely getting antsy to get racing. I'm a competitor, and just really want to get out there and start competing."

Miller, the veteran American who opened the Olympics by winning bronze in the men's downhill Monday, could be a contender for gold in the super combined, which takes the times from one downhill run and one slalom run and adds them together. That event, though, was pushed from Tuesday to Sunday because of the weather. The men's giant slalom, another event in which Miller could win a medal, was postponed from Sunday to Feb. 23, which was supposed to be an off day from Alpine competition.

The women, though, will almost certainly get to race for the first time at the Vancouver Games. Forecasts for the rest of the week call for drier weather, and that would allow officials to properly prepare the course for the downhill, which Vonn enters as a heavy favorite despite the fact she arrived here with a painful shin injury.

"She's prepared to race when there's a race, that's for certain," her husband, Thomas Vonn, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "She'll be ready to go 100 percent. Now, if there was an option to have more time off, she would take it. But when there's no option, she'll be ready to compete."

Vonn, 25, has been alternately devastated and encouraged since she arrived in Canada a week ago -- and she hasn't even raced. Sunday, with the women's super combined wiped out by weather, she trained four runs of slalom and came away feeling great about the injury. Monday, she ran her first official training run -- a two-step process that involved skiing the top portion of the downhill course in the morning and the bottom in the afternoon -- and came away immediately feeling pain, and discouraged again.

"I was really happy we got another day off today," Lindsey Vonn said. "Yesterday, in the first downhill training run, my shin was definitely hurting quite a bit. It was really fortunate. I'm really happy I got a chance to rest it.

"At the same time, I think yesterday was definitely really positive. I was able to ski the way I wanted to. It was really painful but I made it down and I think that was a real positive step."

Vonn, who has won five of six World Cup downhill races this season, posted the fastest time over the top portion of the course Monday morning, the section that was much longer than the portion the women traversed in the afternoon. Vonn said afterward that the course was "the worst course for my shin," a comment Thomas Vonn said came not because of the course itself, but because of the condition it was in.

The women's competition will continue Thursday with the super combined, another event in which Vonn is a clear contender for a medal and has the potential for gold. The men's super-G -- the other main speed event, with more turns than downhill but fewer than giant slalom or slalom -- will be Friday. The men will have a training session Saturday, the same day the women are scheduled to contend the super-G -- another event in which Vonn is heavily favored.

"She's a tough competitor," U.S. women's coach Jim Tracy said. "There's not going to be anything holding her back for sure."

No golden ticket for Blair

Five Olympic gold medals and a bronze aren't enough to score a ticket to the United States-Canada men's hockey game.

Former long-track speedskater Bonnie Blair, impassive that Apolo Anton Ohno may soon be America's most decorated Winter Olympian, is more concerned about scoring an elusive seat at the big game for her hockey-crazy 11-year-old son.

"It doesn't matter how many Olympic medals I have, I can't get into U.S.A.-Canada!" she exclaimed.

News services contributed to this report.

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