Lindsey Vonn taking a leave from World Cup to build strength after early-season intestinal illness

Vonn MugLindsey Vonn needs to heal, so she’s taking a health break in the middle of the World Cup ski season. The word is she won’t return until January.

The decision follows a weekend of disappointing results, including a fall on Friday during a Downhill, her specialty, and another fall in the opening run of a giant slalom on Sunday. Vonn has had good results this season, including a sweep of three races in Lake Louise.

However, she has struggled with fitness since falling ill and spending two nights in a Vail hospital during November after suffering from severe intestinal pain. Just last week, in a World Cup Diary she writes for the Denver Post, Vonn confessed that she was struggling to regain her strength.

“After talking with my family and consulting with my coaches and trainers, I have decided to take a break from the World Cup circuit,” Vonn wrote on her Facebook page. “Since my intestinal infection, I have been struggling with my energy and strength. I believe that some time off the mountain will help me regain the physical strength that I require.”

There’s also a tactical reason to take a break. The upcoming races are largely technical, Slaloms and Giant Slaloms, that are hard for Vonn to score well in. The next speed races are Jan. 12-13 in St. Anton, Austria, a course where Vonn has great success. That would give her three weeks of home cooking, as it were, to revive.

Even so, by the time she returns the chance to repeat as Overall champion will be a huge challenge, given the fast start by Tina Maze, who is adept at technical races. The Slovenia leads with 799 points, while Vonn is well behind in fourth (414). It doesn’t help that former champ Maria Hoefl-Riesch is second (468).

Last week in People magazine, Vonn revealed she had struggled with depression. She said on Facebook that her current break is not connected with that admission. “I want to be emphatic that this has nothing to do with my recent interview. I had completed that interview weeks before I was in the hospital with the intestinal infection.”

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