By Emily Goddard

Lindsey Vonn airlifted 050213February 5 - Olympic gold medallist Lindsey Vonn has been airlifted to hospital after the American suffered a serious crash on the opening day of the international Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Ski World Championships in Schladming.

The accident happened during the women's super-giant slalom event at the Austrian town this afternoon when the 28-year-old four-time overall World Cup champion lost balance on her right leg while landing after a jump, causing her to slide off course and hit a gate before coming to a standstill.

She was 0.12sec outside the time of race leader and eventual winner, Tina Maze of Slovenia, when she fell and received medical treatment for a leg injury on the slope for 12 minutes before being taken to hospital.

The events at the competition had already been delayed by three-and-a-half hours because of fog but the race continued after Vonn was taken to a local hospital.

Lindsey Vonn before crash 050213Lindsey Vonn was 0.12sec outside the time of race leader and eventual winner Tina Maze when she fell

Maria Höfl-Riesch of Germany and Austria's Anna Fenninger also dropped out after mistakes on their runs.

As only one of six women to have won World Cup races in all five disciplines of alpine skiing, Vonn has become the poster girl of US skiing in recent years, particularly after her success at Vancouver 2010, where she took gold in the downhill event and bronze in the super-G.

She was also the first Winter Youth Olympic Games ambassador for Innsbruck 2012.

The United States ski team said it had no immediate information on her condition but it does not bode well for her chances at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, which start in just over a year.

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