Published February 12, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Picabo Street can feel Lindsey Vonn's pain.
Back in her gold medal-winning career, Street tore a muscle in the same area of her shin as where Vonn is dealing with a deep bruise. So Street knows exactly what her good friend is trying to overcome in her bid to compete in five races at the Vancouver Olympics.
"Just being in the boot is hurtful," Street said Thursday.
There's no way to avoid wearing the ski boot — but what about wearing a different one, perhaps one with more padding?
Not an option, Street said.
"Then she's not in her element," she said.
Vonn spent more than an hour on her skis Thursday, but didn't get a full test when officials called off the training sessions because of thick fog and low visibility.
"Normally a cancellation of a training run is a real drag, but it was looked upon by our team as a real bonus," Street said. "Hopefully that will help segue to a quick healing process."
Street's advice is for Vonn to stay off her leg as much as possible. The biggest mistake, in Street's learned opinion, would be for Vonn to get used to skiing hurt.
"Your body is a very smart mechanism and has a secret connection with your mind," Street said. "So even if you can consciously block out the pain with medicines and whatnot, your subconscious mind always knows that there's something happening. So when you go to fire into a range of motion and it's painful, the next time you ask for that range of motion, your body won't do it. It flat-out won't do it.
"It will compensate and recruit other muscle groups and other ranges of motion in order to accomplish the same thing. When that happens ... she's got to learn a new dance. She needs to spend very little time learning the new dance."
Vonn, the two-time reigning overall World Cup champion, is favored to win three events — the first three, starting with the super-combined that is scheduled for Sunday. That pretty much eliminates the option of skipping an event or two to buy more healing time.
"It would be shocking to everybody," Street said. "For her to choose to throw out a race — one of those three — she'd have to really be (thinking) that the next day when she got in the gate she was 100 percent and the one to beat again."
Then again, at this point in the skiing season, everyone is nursing some sort of injury.
"I'm sure there's only a handful out there that haven't competed without some sort of a boo-boo — whether it be a hangnail, a blown-out knee, a shin bruise," Street said.
Street is still counting on her friend to wind up on the winner's stand.
"She can win at 80 percent, in my opinion," Street said. "I'm still expecting her to win a couple of medals."