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TODAY   |  February 06, 2013

Lindsay Vonn injures knee, still aims for Sochi

In a dramatic crash that sent her to the hospital in a helicopter yesterday, the most successful American skier in history, Lindsay Vonn, tore ligaments and fractured a bone in her knee. She will sit out the rest of this season, but U.S. Ski Team coach Chip White is “confident” she’ll be in Olympic shape for Sochi next year. NBC’s Keir Simmons reports.

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>>> olympic gold medal winning skier lindsey vonn says she's determined to return for next year's olympic games in sochi , russia. in austria where vonn had to be air lifted to a hospital, keir, good morning to you.

>> reporter: matt, thank you. lindsey vonn laid on the course. you can see the course snaking through the trees. her doctor has spoken to her and he says she is so determined that she's already talking about how she'll recover.

>> lindsey vonn , trying to find the perfect grip.

>> reporter: halfway down, making a jump and turning. then a horrific crash, tumbling out of control and harrowing cries. her emotion reveals how her right leg sprained, knee twisted, ligaments torn and a bone fractured. her sister's reaction said it all, fellow competitor looking shocked. vonn was air lifted out and taken to a local hospital. vonn is the most successful american skier in history. won the bronze in vancouver, four-time world champion . so fearless, she has been injured in every championship event, olympics and world championship since 2007 . a win or nothing competitor, as she told matt in 2010 .

>> i've never had so many crashes and so many injuries in one season. it was so brutal. i kept fighting through it.

>> reporter: her personal life is a battle, too. a divorce. and she suffers from depression. but while she will not compete again this year and now on the sidelines, with sochi just one year away, her determination is legendary.

>> if anyone can come back from this in time for the olympics, it's lindsey vonn .

>> reporter: her competitive spirit landing her out of this competition. down, but not for too long says team coach, chip white.

>> it was a very, very aggressive crash. the injury, though, outcome -- it's not an injury that's unusual in ski racing . she was back in the hotel a couple of hours after the accident. she was in good spirits, starting to plot out her rehab and next steps. i'm confident we will see lindsey vonn in sochi next year.

>> reporter: she will need surgery. that's likely to be carried out in the u.s. experts say it can take six months to recover. you know, matt, when lindsey vonn wants something, you better watch out. good news from here today, a win for the u.s., ted liggety.

>> that is good news. we receive a statement from lindsey vonn through her spokesperson. first off, i want to thank you for the amazing medical staff that cared for me. i plan on returning to vail as soon as i can to have the necessary surgeries. i'm also grateful to my fans for the outpouring of support, which has really helped me stay positive. i can assure you i will work as hard as humanly possible to be ready to represent my country next year in sochi . we just want to wish her the very best on a very speedy recovery.

>> she'll get back. no question.

>> amazing competitor. i'm rooting for her.