Lindsey Vonn Never Thought Fall Was a Career-Ender

Lindsey Vonn Dodges Tiger Woods Questions on Today
Lindsey Vonn
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

02/25/2013 AT 08:30 AM EST

Lindsey Vonn, who is working to rehab her injured knee, remains highly optimistic that she'll not only be back on the ski slopes but she'll be ready for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Speaking with Matt Lauer on Today" Monday, Vonn, 28, deflected any questions about reports of her dating of Tiger Woods, telling the host she preferred to keep her private life private. She says she is focused on regaining her career as America's top female downhill skier and defending Olympic gold medal winner.

"I didn't think it was going to be the end of my career," Vonn notes of her frightening fall at the 2013 World Championships in Schladming, Austria.

After she was airlifted off the slopes, following a fierce tumble, doctors discovered she had torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments and a lateral tibial plateau fracture. She reportedly flew back to Vail, Colo. on Woods' private jet and underwent surgery on Feb. 5, which her doctor, Bill Sterett, pronounced a success.

Of a possible comeback, Vonn, who has won the World Cup more than any other female American skier (four times), was confident she would return strong to her sport. "I know I can. It's just who I am," she tells Lauer. "I feel like I have more left to do."

Vonn showed Lauer her surgical scars on her knee, noting a screw and a pin have been placed there to hold the bone together. She said she was undergoing one-hour physical therapy sessions twice a day, moving her kneecap to make sure scar tissue wasn't forming and fluid was draining.

She also touched on her past struggles with depression, saying it was important for her to open up as a way to help others. "I felt like after my divorce it was something I had to get off my chest to tell people about, moving forward," Vonn explains.

She remained determined not only to heal, but to be competitive again.

"Right now, my goal is to get back to 2014 in Sochi," Vonn says. How long might that take? Lauer pressed. "Honestly, worst case scenario, if I trained a week before the games, I'd be fine," she responds.
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