Sat, Jan 24, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Ski star Albrecht in induced coma after serious crash

AP , INNSBRUCK, Austria

Swiss skier Daniel Albrecht was in stable condition at a hospital in Innsbruck yesterday, a day after being placed in an induced coma following a downhill training crash.

“Daniel had a quiet night and all vital functions were stable,” Swiss team doctor Dr. Jacques Menetrey said.

Albrecht remained in the induced coma and it was not clear if doctors planned to wake him up later yesterday.

“Daniel is now the medical responsibility of the doctors in Innsbruck,” Menetrey said. “They are doing further examinations and will decide what’s best to do.”

Menetrey said it was too early to assess Albrecht’s chances of full recovery.

“With this kind of [brain] injuries, it needs a couple of days before you can judge that,” Menetrey said. “But all vital parameters are stable now and that’s the best we could hope for.”

The hospital was expected to give more details at a news conference later yesterday.

Albrecht lost control after flying through the air for about 40m, landed on his back and came to a stop near the finish line at Thursday’s World Cup downhill training on the infamous Streif course in Kitzbuehel.

He lost consciousness and received medical attention for about 20 minutes before being taken by helicopter to a hospital in nearby St Johann. He was later transported to the hospital in Innsbruck.

The 25-year-old Albrecht is the reigning super-combined world champion and has four career World Cup victories — three in giant slalom and one in super-combi. He has two GS wins this season, at Soelden, Austria, and Alta Badia, Italy, and is eighth in the overall World Cup standings.

The crash was similar to that of Scott Macartney last year on the Streif. The American suffered a brain contusion after slamming his head on the snow and was out for the season.

Organizers lowered the final jump of the course after Macartney’s crash and clearly marked the natural wave so racers would be able to better time their jump.

“We’ve done everything that we reasonably could do to make it a safe course,” FIS race director Guenther Hujara said. “This was the best solution and was approved by most of the racers”

“The only way to avoid crashes is not to do a downhill race at all,” Hujara said. “We just can’t avoid all crashes. This was out of our hands.”

Swiss teammate Didier Cuche said it was “a very bad crash.”

“Daniel was having a great run but was forced into a backward position too much at the jump,” Cuche said. “I hope he’ll be well again soon.”

Thursday’s training session was interrupted for half an hour before resuming. Bode Miller posted the fastest time of 1 minute, 55.95 seconds to beat last year’s winner Cuche by 0.26 seconds.

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