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Lindsey Vonn calls intestinal illness “very scary”

Nov 27, 2012, 1:16 PM EDT

Mitchell Gunn Mitchell Gunn

The fact that gold medal alpine skier Lindsey Vonn finished 21st in Aspen this weekend was already impressive after she spent two nights in a Colorado hospital with severe intestinal pain last week.

Now, after reading about her ordeal in a letter she contributed to the Denver Post, it seems like a miracle the 28-year-old made it up the mountain.

Vonn called the illness “very scary” and candidly explained her fears that she had developed Crohn’s disease. She added that she had to be “super drugged” on morphine and Percocet because of the pain, and noted the difficulty of her slow recovery after getting out of the hospital days before her race.

“I was getting tired walking down the hall of my condo,” wrote Vonn, “let alone walking up a couple stairs. I had to stop every five steps. I felt like I was 100 years old, and I couldn’t even think about skiing.

“Even when I got better, it took me a long time to build back into training. I started just walking on the treadmill for 10 minutes. I was getting lightheaded doing everything.”

Vonn finished by writing that this weekend’s races in Lake Louise, a course often referred to as “Lake Lindsey” because of the 11 titles she’s won there, is an important litmus test for her recovery and her season.

“I honestly don’t know how strong I will be. I think I will be competitive, but I need time to regain my strength, and I don’t know when I’m going to be 100 percent.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, because that’s all I can do.”

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