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Olivier Morin  /  AFP - Getty Images
Lindsey Vonn clears a gate during the FIS World Cup Women's Slalom December 13, 2009, in Are, Sweden. Until the injury she revealed Wednesday, she was considered a lock for multiple gold medals in Vancouver.
TODAY contributor
updated 2/10/2010 8:17:24 AM ET 2010-02-10T13:17:24

Lindsey Vonn’s quest for five Alpine skiing medals may be in serious jeopardy because of a serious shin injury suffered a week ago in training, the skier revealed Tuesday.

Vonn has had fluid drained from the deep bruise, which she has been told will take “a couple of weeks” to completely heal.

“It’s essentially a deep muscle bruise, so I have a contusion. So the muscle is bleeding and it’s really deep inside the muscle,” the World Cup champion told TODAY’s Matt Lauer after arriving in Vancouver Tuesday.

‘Excruciatingly painful’
“When I tried my boot on, I was just standing there in the hotel room barely flexing forward, and it was excruciatingly painful. And I’ve got to try to ski downhill at 75, 80 miles an hour with a lot of forces pushed up against my shin,” Vonn said. “I don’t know honestly if I’ll be able to do it.”

The injury could be a crushing blow to the 25-year-old Vonn, who was the best female skier in the world in both 2008 and 2009. Considered the best American female skier ever, she seemed a lock for multiple gold medals and a threat to win all five of her events.

Until the injury, Vonn had been in top form and was coming off a win in her final race before the Olympics.

“I won the last World Cup race. I felt perfectly healthy, I was happy, I was coming in with confidence, and now I have another injury,” she told Lauer. “I fought through injuries before and I’m no stranger to that, but it’s going be really hard. I just have to try to stay positive and do the best I can, because that’s all I can do.”

Lauer observed that Vonn comes to the Vancouver Games carrying a lot of pressure. “This has to multiply that pressure,” he said.

Image: Lindsay Vonn
Though she has a history of coming back from injuries, Lindsey Vonn told Matt Lauer she feels uncertain how she will manage to compete in Vancouver.
“Definitely,” she said. “That’s why I wanted to tell you about it ... I at least want people to know what’s going on, and if I don’t perform well, why that is. But I can guarantee you that I’m going to do everything I can to be as ready as I can with this injury and still try to ski well.”

Vonn had won her last race, a super-G at St. Moritz on Jan. 31, and had already won nine races in the season. Among them are five downhills, three super-Gs and one super combined.

Playing it by ear
The first training run at Whistler Mountain for the first women’s event, the super combined, is Thursday and the race is Sunday. The women’s downhill, the premier alpine skiing event, is Wednesday, Feb. 17 with the super-G on Saturday, Feb. 20. The giant slalom is Feb. 24 and the final event, the slalom, is Feb. 26.

Four years ago in Torino, Vonn’s medal hopes were dashed when she suffered a horrific crash in a training run for the downhill. She was evacuated by helicopter to a hospital, where she was diagnosed with a hip injury. Despite the damage and the pain, she entered the race two days later, finishing eighth.

Slideshow: Racing hearts Vonn has a history of coming back from injuries, but she looked concerned as she talked to Lauer about this one. “I’m a lot less sure about this injury than I have been in the past,” she said.

She said she feels fine until she puts a boot on and attempts to ski. Vonn said she will show up for the first training run Thursday and see how she feels. Under anti-doping rules, she can take painkillers but is not allowed to get a numbing injection into the injury.

“I feel OK now, but anytime I’m in my boot it’s painful, so I don’t know. I’ve got to wait until the first training run on Thursday. I’m going to go up there, I’m going to put my skis on and see how it feels,” Vonn told Lauer.

“I have to play it by ear and see how it feels and take it day to day and just keep doing therapy and hope it gets better.”

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Injured Vonn uncertain of performance

  1. Closed captioning of: Injured Vonn uncertain of performance

    >> couple of minutes.

    >>> meantime, the olympic winter games haven't even begun, and already there is a major drama to report today. on tuesday, just hours after she arrived here in vancouver, skier lindsey vonn , one of team usa 's brightest stars , revealed that she has injured her right shin in a training run one week ago. it could be yet another devastating blow for vonn, whose hopes for a medal in torino were dashed after this horrific crash in practice there. i sat down with lindsey last night and began by asking her just how much pain she's in.

    >> when i tried my boot on, i was just standing in the hotel room barely flexing forward, and it was excruciatingly painful, and i've got to try to ski downhill at 75, 80 miles an hour with a lot of forces pushed up against my shin, and i don't honestly know if i'll be able to do it.

    >> is it a bruise? what's it been diagnosed as?

    >> yeah, it's essentially a deep muscle bruise. so, i have a contusion, so the muscle is bleeding, and it's really deep inside the muscle. so, i talked to my doctor, dr. sterrett, today, and he said it could take a couple weeks before it's completely healed.

    >> i know it's hard to say because you haven't been on skis, but if you could estimate for me, lindsey , are you 50% right now, are you less, are you 80%? what would you say?

    >> i honestly couldn't tell you. i mean, i feel okay now, but any time i'm in my boot, it's painful. so, i don't know. i mean, i've got to wait until the first training run on thursday. i'm going to go up there. i'm going to put my skis on and see how it feels. i could not be doing the first training run. i don't know. i have to play it by ear and see how it feels and take it day that day and just keep doing therapy and hope it gets better.

    >> so, in your mind, are you preparing for the possibility of not skiing in these five different events, or at least skipping the first one, which is sunday and giving yourself little extra time to heal?

    >> i'm thinking about how i can manage it so that i can race well in all my disciplines, and i don't know if that means only doing one of the three training runs. there's three training runs before the first combined. so, like, if i just do one downhill training run, then i could at least race in the combined.

    >> one thing i know about you, having interviewed you several times over the years, is you've had more than your share of adversity and more of your share of injuries to come back from like this one. are you more sure of this one than in the past when you've had crashes?

    >> i'm a lot less sure about this injury than i have been in the past.

    >> i'm so used to this broad smile of yours. and although i think you're putting on a brave face, i can also see the disappointment in your eyes, and it's a little bit like here we go again.

    >> yeah. i mean, i was -- i won the last world cup race. now i feel -- i felt perfectly healthy. i was happy. i was coming into confidence, and you know, now i have another injury, and i've fought through injuries before, and i'm no stranger to that, but it's going to be really hard, and i just have to try to stay positive and do the best i can, because that's all i can do.

    >> and the pressure that's already on you and the expectations, this has to multiply that pressure.

    >> definitely. i mean, that's the thing, and that's why i wanted to tell you about it, because if i go out there and i can't do the training runs or, you know, who knows what's going to happen? but i at least want people to know what's going on, and if i don't perform well, you know, why that is. but i can guarantee you that i'm going to do everything i can to be as ready as i can with this injury and still try to ski well.

    >> it's not a good situation. lindsey told me the doctors have been draining fluids from her injury. she's taking pain -- or she will take painkillers. she's allowed to do that under the rules, but she can't have any injections into the injury. again, there's all these antidoping regulations.

    >> right.

    >> she's using some numbing techniques, but she's very iffy. she doesn't really have any idea what's going to happen when she puts that boot on again and when she locks herself into her skis.

    >> it's scary not only just what she says, but the look in her eyes, how upset she is. you mention the pressure she's under already going into it. we wish


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