‘I’m too old for this’: Vonn crashes in her penultimate race
By ANDREW DAMPF
AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 5
ARE, Sweden (AP) — One of the hallmarks of Lindsey Vonn’s career has been the way she bounces back from major crashes time and time again.
So perhaps it’s fitting that the most successful female skier of all time will enter her last race before retiring following yet another tumble into the safety netting.
Vonn straddled a gate mid-air during the super-G at the world championships Tuesday and ended up sliding down the hill face first.
“I’ve got a bit of a shiner. I feel like I’ve been hit by an 18-wheeler, but other than that I’m great,” Vonn said with a laugh. “My knees are the same as they were before the race. I think my neck’s going to be sore. I got the wind knocked out of me, my ribs are oddly sore. It’ll be fine. Sunday will be great.”
Vonn quickly got up after the fall and skied down the hill under her own power after being tended to by medical personnel. Then she sat and happily answered reporters’ questions during a half-hour news conference.
The 34-year-old Vonn, the all-time leader in women’s World Cup wins, announced last week that she will retire after racing the super-G and downhill at the worlds — meaning that Sunday’s downhill is her final race.
“Don’t count me out,” Vonn said. “I’ve got one more chance. Maybe I’ll pull off a miracle, maybe I won’t. … I’m going to try my hardest. Just because I get knocked down, it doesn’t mean I don’t get back up.”
Vonn’s long history of crashes has included frightful falls at the 2006 Turin Olympics and 2013 worlds and injuries to virtually every part of her body — from a concussion to a sliced thumb to a bruised shin. But she has always bounced back by winning titles and medals.
“That’s defined her career and that’s why she is as successful as she has been,” U.S. head coach Paul Kristofic said. “You have to respect that. That’s a true competitor and champion and that’s their mindset.”
Vonn’s legs are so battered that she will have knee surgery for the seventh time soon after she retires — to repair the left knee ligament she tore during training in November.
“I need complete reconstruction. That will be fun. Hopefully my last surgery,” Vonn said.
Vonn was planning on retiring in December but moved up her last race upon realizing last month after failing to finish a super-G in Italy that her knees just can’t handle anymore pounding. She has discussed the long-term health risks for her body with her doctors.
“I’m screwed. I’ve known that for three years now,” Vonn said. “It’s only a matter of time. The analogy I was given was, I only have a certain amount of steps left. And I’ve run out of steps at this point. I know I’ll have pain for the rest of my life but I wouldn’t change it. … I got no cartilage, no meniscus, I got rods and plates and screws. There’s a lot going on. My head is still good, that’s all I need.”
It didn’t take Vonn long to process on why she crashed. When she barreled through a gate, the panel fitted between the two poles detached and got stuck on her boots. When she hit the ground she slid downhill face first, using her hands to keep her head from hitting the snow, then came to a stop in the netting.
“I had the right line coming in, that roll or jump had kind of a crown, it wasn’t exactly smooth and I think one of my skis hooked up and sent me into the panel,” she said. “The header into the fence wasn’t the best.
“My immediate thought was ‘What the hell? Why am I in the fence again?’ It was like, ‘Why am I here? I’m too old for this.’”
On Twitter, she added: “If adversity makes you stronger I think I’m the Hulk at this point….”
Fernando Maddock, a 43-year-old fan from New York who traveled overseas to attend the championships, said watching Vonn crash was “heartbreaking.
“A champion like her deserves to go out in style,” Maddock added. “She gets motivated by injury. She comes back stronger every time. It’s amazing. We’ll be here for the downhill, cheering her on.”
Vonn was wearing a safety air bag device under her racing suit, which inflated as she tumbled over and softened the impact when she hit the safety nets.
On a highly technical course, many other skiers also failed to finish their runs. American teammate Laurenne Ross also crashed and of the 43 starters, 14 failed to finish.
Mikaela Shiffrin won the race despite nearly making a similar error to Vonn toward the end of her run, correcting her direction in mid-air as she, too, was heading directly into a gate.
“I just squeaked by,” the American said. “That’s the sport. It’s such a fine line between the risk you have to take in order to win and then the risk where you take it’s just a little bit too much.”
Upon seeing Vonn’s crash, Shiffrin looked away from the big video screen in the finish area. Sofia Goggia, who took silver, clasped her helmet with both hands, and the crowd gasped. One American fan appeared to be crying.
“That’s Lindsey. She (goes) 100 percent or nothing,” said Austrian racer Nicole Schmidhofer, who finished 11th. “That’s why she has won so many races and why she’s an Olympic champion.”
AP Sports Writer Steve Douglas contributed to this report.
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Shiffrin wins super-G, Vonn crashes at worlds
By STEVE DOUGLAS
AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 5
ARE, Sweden (AP) — As Mikaela Shiffrin hopped atop the podium to celebrate another gold medal, Lindsey Vonn was nearby on the sidelines of the finish area, stretching her ailing knees and explaining just how she wound up entangled in a safety net halfway down the course.
Definitive proof, not that it was really needed, of a passing of the baton in American — and world — ski racing.
With a daring and often wild run, Shiffrin won the super-G by 0.02 seconds at the skiing world championships Tuesday for her first medal in a speed event at a major championship.
She has now won a gold medal at four straight worlds. Coming in a season when she has been virtually unbeatable in the World Cup, she is unmistakably the queen of ski racing.
For Vonn, it was an afternoon that made her question her decision to return for one last bid for a title before retirement.
Racing straight after Shiffrin, Vonn was already 0.08 behind her compatriot at the first checkpoint when, off balance after misreading the roll on the crown of a hill, she straddled a gate mid-air, landed heavily on her right side, crashed her head against left arm, and went careening into the safety nets to the left of the course.
There were audible gasps from the grandstand at the bottom of the course as fans watched on the big screen. Shiffrin looked away, seemingly in horror, and later said Vonn had been “on the edge of disaster.” Sofia Goggia, who won silver, clutched her helmet with both hands.
Medical personnel tended to Vonn for a few minutes before the world’s most famous ski racer got to her feet, put on her skis, and went down the hill unaided. She looked groggy and in pain as she performed a slew of post-race interviews, but seemed better a few hours later.
“I’ve got a bit of a shiner,” Vonn said, showing the right side of her face. “I feel like I’ve been hit by an 18-wheeler.”
“My immediate thought,” she added, “was, ‘What the hell, why am I in the fence again?’ It was like, ‘Why am I here? I’m too old for this.’”
A positive sign was the way she spoke about still being a contender in the downhill on Sunday, in what will be the final race of her storied career.
“Don’t count me out,” said Vonn, the winner of a women’s record of 82 World Cup races. “I’ve got one more chance. Maybe I’ll pull off a miracle, maybe I won’t.”
On a course that was shortened because of strong winds, Vonn was typically aggressive from the start despite the persistent pain in both of her knees that is forcing her into retirement.
Shiffrin, a more technical racer, also took risks and that meant the victory wasn’t without its complications. She veered off line on the lower section of the course, flailed her arms mid-air to slow down and narrowly cleared the next gate, clipping it with her side.
The mistake occurred right in front of U.S. head coach Paul Kristofic.
“She flew far and slightly off to the left and had to make a fairly significant correction,” Kristofic told The Associated Press.
“Not many people can do that but she showed the world that she can and not only just to recover from the mistake but to carry as much speed out of it and keep your head in the game.”
Perhaps it explained Shiffrin’s reaction after seeing her time. She crouched over and held her hands to her face in disbelief.
“This is crazy,” Shiffrin said. “I really wasn’t expecting this.”
Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic champion, is now a four-time world champion and a five-time medalist at the worlds, to go with her 56 World Cup victories. That puts her 26 wins behind Vonn on the all-time list and 30 behind men’s record holder Ingemar Stenmark.
“I think she’s going to break all the records,” Vonn said of Shiffrin, moments after describing her racing as “methodical and technical, kind of the opposite to me.”
“There’s kind of no point me breaking them, because she’s going to break them anyway.”
Goggia, the Olympic downhill champion from Italy, managed a runner-up finish despite only recently beginning her season because of a right ankle injury.
Corinne Suter of Switzerland was third, 0.05 behind — a remarkable result for a racer who nearly needed to have her right foot amputated last year after blood poisoning that almost went untreated when training at Stelvio, Italy.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf contributed to this report.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80
Stem cell treatments for arthritic knees are unproven, expensive and potentially dangerous
February 5, 2019
Author: Mark Miller, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Virginia
Disclosure statement: Mark Miller is a consultant for Arthrex, a maker of medical implants and receives royalties from Elsevier and Wolters-Kluwer medical publishing companies.
Partners: University of Virginia provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Twelve patients who tried injections of stem cells were hospitalized with infections, according to a report in The New York Times that should cause patients concern. More important is that they should investigate stem cell treatments, for conditions such as cartilage injuries to their joints, before committing to one of these procedures. It’s also a valuable reminder that physicians need to work closely with patients to help them understand their options and which choice may be best for them.
Stem cells are “uncommitted” cells that are, at least theoretically, capable of becoming any type of cell – skin, heart, kidney or even knee cartilage cells. Stem cells can come from fetal tissue, including products of in-vitro fertilization as well as placenta and umbilical cord tissue. They can also come from a patient’s own “hidden” adult stem cells, which are most often harvested from bone marrow and fat. The potential for using these cells in medicine is tremendous; for instance, stem cell transplants are used frequently to treat certain cancers, such as leukemias and blood disorders.
I am a professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Virginia. I am also a victim of knee osteoarthritis and have gone through knee replacements for both of my knees a little over a year ago. Since then I have made it my mission to educate the public about this condition, and to try to keep the enthusiasm regarding new cutting-edge options in check. That is because I have seen many patients who have paid thousands of dollars for a so-called stem cell treatment only to discover later that they were duped. In most cases fortunately, the only injury was to their wallet.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, at least 31 million Americans are affected with osteoarthritis, the most common type of cartilage wear. A quick web search will confirm just how popular “stem cell treatment” is, and how industry and many institutions offer this option.
The truth about stem cells
Unfortunately, the excitement about stem cells has outpaced the science in many areas of health care. In addition, due to ethical issues associated with the use of fetal tissue, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has severely restricted its use. Adult stem cells have fewer regulatory issues, but the FDA has prohibited “manipulation,” which includes processing and culturing of these cells. Therefore, obtaining an abundant source of concentrated stem cells can be difficult.
In orthopedics, researchers have proposed using stem cells for the treatment of joint – cartilage damage. This includes osteoarthritis, the thinning of cartilage that causes bones to rub against one another – similar to a car tire going bald after 50,000 miles. Osteoarthritis is the primary cause of joint replacement surgery, and stem cell injections have been promoted as a potential way to avoid joint replacement by regenerating cartilage. Unfortunately, current technology and regulatory issues make obtaining and concentrating true stem cells a challenge, and encouraging them to become and remain cartilage cells and nothing else is even more difficult.
The problem with stem cells is that these cells can continue to evolve; they may not stop development at the cartilage cell phase. They may continue to differentiate into bone cells. This would make the joint even worse because bone creates a rough surface adjacent to the smooth articular cartilage. Bone is actually the end result of arthritis.
According to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, there are no proven uses of pain medications or therapies that can delay or reverse the progressive joint destruction that occurs with osteoarthritis.
Any positive effects of current stem cell treatment are likely not the result of the actual cells themselves but something else.
Alternatives to stem cells
Separating the hype from the reality about the use of stem cells for cartilage injuries is a reminder that all patients – with advice from their doctors – need a clear picture of the potential benefits and side effects of their treatment options. This includes complications from harvesting bone marrow from the pelvis – which actually only contain less than 0.01 percent stem cells – including fracture and injury to adjacent structures and infection as detailed in The New York Times article. And while harvesting fat may seem even more attractive, the yield of actual stem cells may be even less.
Depending on the cause and severity of their knee pain, for example, patients have treatment options that range from physical therapy to injections of various medications to surgery. All have pros and cons; steroid injections can provide quick but short-lived pain relief, while a knee replacement can provide a permanent solution but also requires months of rehabilitation. Doctors need to help patients make the choice that best fits their particular needs.
So while a quick internet search may find clinics that offer stem cell treatments for cartilage injuries that cost thousands of dollars – and are almost always not covered by insurance – I strongly recommend that consumers remember the concept of “buyer beware” and that medical providers remember the Hippocratic principle: “first do no harm.”
Oscars 2019: Roma, Yalitza Aparicio and the fascinating history of non-professional actors
February 4, 2019
Author: Catherine O’Rawe, Professor of Italian Film and Culture, University of Bristol
Disclosure statement: Catherine O’Rawe received funding from the British Academy for a research project on non-professional actors in Italian cinema.
Partners: University of Bristol provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation UK.
The surprise nomination of non-professional indigenous woman Yalitza Aparicio for this year’s best actress Oscar for her role as a domestic servant in Alfonso Cuarón’s critically acclaimed Roma has been greeted as a “fairytale”.
Aparicio was training to be a teacher when she reluctantly went to an audition where Cuarón was immediately struck by her. Her presence and her similarity to his own childhood maid – on whom the film is based – secured her the role.
Propelled into the spotlight by her role, she has become the first indigenous woman to grace the cover of Mexican Vogue. She also endeared herself to her growing social media following by uploading to Twitter a video of her sobbing reaction to news of her nomination.
If Aparicio wins, she will be the first indigenous Latina Oscar winner and will join the small number of non-professional actors to win an Oscar in recent times. This number includes Anna Paquin for her role in The Piano (1993) and Haing S Ngor, a former doctor from Cambodia, who won the 1985 best supporting actor Oscar for his role in Roland Joffe’s The Killing Fields, in which his own traumatic experiences informed his outstanding performance as a local journalist.
In the same year as acclaimed indie hits such as Chloé Zhao’s The Rider, in which Brady Jandreau played a version of himself as an injured rodeo rider, and Crystal Moselle’s Skate Kitchen, featured an all-girl skate collective from New York, it seems that authenticity in casting and performance is all the rage.
But Aparicio also stands out as being typical of the non-professional’s experience throughout cinema history. Her “journey” from naïve provincial girl to the red carpet hits many familiar notes. Interviews emphasise how little she understood of cinema, and how she had never heard of Cuarón and feared the job offer might be a trafficking scam.
Aparicio’s unpolished and untrained authenticity is sharply juxtaposed with the glamorous world in which she now finds herself. Part of the non-professional’s effect is to throw into relief the extraordinariness of stars, as well as their proficiency, understood as a product of years of training and dedication to their craft. Aparicio’s novelty, spontaneity, and natural appearance are all singled out as antithetical to the professionalism of her co-star, experienced stage actress Marina De Tavira, who has also been nominated for an Oscar.
Her story mirrors the “discovery” of Barkhad Abdi, the untrained Somali-American who played a memorable co-lead to Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips. It also recalls the children recruited by Danny Boyle from the Mumbai slums for global hit Slumdog Millionaire.
In the latter case, ethical concerns around the effects of sudden fame on vulnerable children were recognised by Boyle. He set up a trust fund for them, though this didn’t prevent allegations that the father of one of the girls tried to sell her to capitalise on her fame.
The non-professional child actor came to prominence in post-WWII Italian neorealism, which specialised in taking performers from the streets. Vittorio De Sica’s Oscar-winning 1948 classic Bicycle Thieves was particularly celebrated for its non-actors, chosen for their faces and bodies rather than any acting talent.
Lamberto Maggiorani, who played the tragic father, lost his factory job after the film and struggled to find work as an actor; he repeatedly begged De Sica to help him out. Meanwhile, nine-year-old Enzo Staiola made several further films and retired at the age of 15. However, accounts of his treatment on set , which included De Sica publicly humiliating him to make him cry, match other testimonies of neorealist directors extracting performances from non-professionals by insulting and even beating them.
This power differential, always implicit in the actor-director relationship, is obviously exacerbated when the actor is inexperienced and has no manager to guide them through the film industry. While Aparicio and Cuarón’s on-set relationship seems to have been affectionate, one anecdote about the film’s shooting is somewhat disturbing. In a central, traumatic scene for her character Cleo, Cuarón admitted that he deliberately withheld from Aparicio what would happen. Her anguished reaction is genuine – and presumably she could not be trusted to generate that response otherwise.
Aparicio has declared that she would like to continue to act, though she admits that Roma may be a one-off. French film critic André Bazin wrote of neorealist actors that the non-professional can be used only once because their effect can never be replicated. But non-professionals have gone on to career success – Paquin, obviously, as well as Sasha Lane, discovered by Andrea Arnold for her film American Honey, is continuing to work. So is Abdi, though in low-profile parts. Others, like the kids of Slumdog Millionaire, have returned to their old lives.
In all the press talk and interviews with Cuarón and Aparicio, one thing is never mentioned: pay. While one presumes that she received a fair salary for the part, non-professionals generally come cheap because it’s often assumed that part of the reward is the experience itself, the fairytale story. But when the magic finishes and the closing credits roll, they all too often find themselves alone.
Anita Spinks is a Friend of The Conversation: Non professional actors give an air of authenticity to a performance. Many films away from Hollywood or major, film producing countries make great use of nonprofessionals. It’s sad to hear that many of these do not make a living from their contribution. It’s exploitation in these instances. I suppose it’s considered supply and demand, as there’d be an eager cohort of would-be non-professional replacements should the actor demand payment for their efforts.