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Alpine skiing: Vonn battles off-piste problems for worlds

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Hospitalisation for an intestinal ailment, divorce, depression, rumours of an affair with Tiger Woods and a whole month away from skiing are hardly the ideal preparations for a podium assault at the World Ski Championships.

Lindsey Vonn's chequered run-in to the February 4-17 worlds, however, has not stopped her soaring to 59 World Cup wins, just three short of Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proll's record of 62 victories.

But things have been hard off the piste for the overall World Cup champion in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.

Hospitalised with intestinal problems early in the season, the 28-year-old American bounced back to win all three races at Lake Louise in December.

But the Olympic gold medallist then took a month's break after a fall at Val d'Isere later that month.

After announcing she was heading back to the United States for that rest, she remained in the headlines after revealing that she had been suffering from depression for a number of years.

With her divorce from husband Thomas Vonn recently finalised, rumours then surfaced about an alleged affair with US golfer Woods.

But you can never count against Vonn, a fiercely competitive racer capable of rising to the big occasion.

"Everything about my life seemed so perfect to people, but I struggle like everyone else," Vonn revealed, admitting that she takes anti-depressant medication.

Vonn said that at one stage in 2008, "I couldn't get out of bed anymore. I felt hopeless, empty, like a zombie".

But she said she was happy to be back racing after her break.

"It's great to see all the other girls again at the World Cup," Vonn said. "I am really enthusiastic to be back.

"The break was really important for me. After falling badly, my legs weren't strong enough. It's important to listen to your body and that is what I have done."

Vonn currently stands third in the overall standings behind runaway leader Tina Maze of Slovenia, with Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch second.

The American scored an important psychological victory over Maze in the giant slalom in Maribor last month to confirm her return to something near her top form.

"Four weeks ago everyone thought I was crazy to take the time out," she said. "But I just felt I needed to do that as my body wasn't ready. It is now.

"Still I was a little bit surprised to have won today after such a long break away from skiing a giant slalom. I put in some good training this week but I didn't think it would be enough."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130203/alpine-skiing-vonn-battles-piste-problems-worlds