Nightly News   |  February 05, 2013

‘The clock’s ticking’ for Lindsey Vonn

Gold medalist Lindsey Vonn screamed as she tumbled down the mountain at the super-G World Championships in Austria, tearing two knee ligaments and fractured her shin bone. She’ll be out for the rest of the season with the Olympics just one year away. Event footage courtesy of “Universal Sports.” NBC’s Chris Jansing reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this was a big story earlier today involving one of the best-known names in sports, and if you've watched the past few winter olympics you know lindsey vonn . we've seen her on the slopes, we've seen her in profiles and commercials and today we saw her in a frightening accident while skiing in foggy conditions at the world championships in austria. tonight, the extent of her injuries is now clear. we get our report from nbc's chris jansing .

>> so many traps in this course with the conditions.

>> reporter: it was the kind of jump lindsey vonn has made a thousand times before. but today, a horrific crash.

>> over the top ! and she is down heavily. lindsey vonn --

>> reporter: you can hear the painful screams, and see the shocked reaction on the faces of her fans and competitors.

>> to watch her lie there, of course, as a ski racer and as a commentator, it was horrifying.

>> reporter: medical teams treated vonn for 12 minutes before she was airlifted to the hospital where tests showed two torn ligaments and a bone fracture with the olympics one year away.

>> so we're looking at a window that's really the clock's ticking for her.

>> exactly. some people are back skiing in six months. skiing in the olympics , it's going to be tough.

>> reporter: vonn is out for the rest of the season, but the u.s. ski team believes she will make a comeback in time for the winter games in sochi, russia. she took gold and bronze in vancouver and is a four-time world cup champion. the most successful american skier in history.

>> action.

>> reporter: a favorite with sponsors, tabloids love her, too. her unconfirmed romance with tiger woods and her revelation that she's battled depression.

>> hi, dad!

>> reporter: but since she was 3 years old she's been happiest on the slopes. telling brian williams in 2010 that this is what she was born to do.

>> i've given my entire life for the sport.

>> reporter: there have been other heart-stopping falls. she came back from a terrible crash in torino two days later. but this time won't be easy.

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

>> reporter: the heart of a champion , with a track record of beating the odds. chris jansing , nbc news, new york.