Residence: Castelrotto
Skis: Fischer
Bindings: Fischer
Boots: Fischer
Ski Club: G.S. Fiamme Gialle
  • Dogged by an endless series of injuries and set-backs, the flying Italian completed an inspirational return to the summit of the sport in the 2007-08 season when she raced away with the Giant Slalom Globe. Overcoming what for many would have been insurmountable odds, it was more than just a headline-grabbing success for a racer who had spent more time on the treatment table than out on the slopes.

    Such was her determination not to allow a broken thumb in January hinder her excellent start to the season - where she won four races from the first five starts - that she strapped herself up and overcame the pain barrier to make it five out of six top-place finishes, when she won in Ofterschwang in Germany.

    Maybe it is something in the air in her homeland of the Sudtirol - autonomous northern Italian region - that has bred this "never-say-die" spirit or maybe having to face up to a broken femur at 13, followed by a cruciate ligament injury on her comeback, that has instilled a steely determination.

    Winning on the opening day of the season at Soelden, in Austria, would have been triumph enough as it was her first podium-topping finish since her only other previous victory, back in 2003, at Alta Badia in Italy, but its meaning went much deeper than that.

    A positive outlook on life coupled with a positive influence on those around her maintained her joie de vivre and a Herculean effort to come back from five knee operations.

    Speaking after her Soelden triumph, she revealed the importance of that "back-in-the-zone" moment.

    "I went through a lot of tough times so this is quite an emotional time for me," she admitted. "I think of the people around me and how I had to fight, not just for myself, but to motivate and excite them."

    A world junior champion in 1999, Karbon was hailed as the heiress-apparent to the highness of giant slalom, fellow Italian triple Olympic Champion Deborah Compagnoni, who was winding down her illustrious career just as the new starlet was making her break into the big time.

    Having entered the professional ranks in 1998, in her debut World Cup season and claiming that first win in 2003, the future looked very rosy indeed.

    However, the gods of misfortune were to strike with a vengeance once again. A training session in Chile ended with heavy fall which not only tore her knee ligaments and meniscus but also fractured the head of her tibia.

    The 2005-06 campaign was a non-starter and the odds of racing at any high level looked to have diminished even more when she arrived at the finish-line of a foggy-hit giant slalom course at the Turin Olympics in an emotional state of tears. Matters deteriorated further when the Italian Ski Federation failed to freeze her World Cup ranking to protect her starting position.

    With her ranking dipping from the 30s down into the 80s, those late starts out of the gate on less than smooth snow were a further obstacle on her climb back to the upper reaches.

    However, it all came together again in 2007, with a ninth place in Aspen, Colorado, seventh at Semmering, Austria, and third in Cortina, Italy. A bronze at the world championships in Are, Sweden finally saw the good times roll for the popular mountain girl.

    In the 2008/09 season the ever-smiling Italian was not able to defend her title and never found the rhythm or form she had the previous season, due also to numerous niggling injuries picked up throughout the winter that never stopped her from competing but did prevent her from reching her peak. Her best result came in Ofterschwang where she finished second and her title of giant slalom champion went to the Finn Tanja Poutiainen.

    A cousin of professional skier Peter Fill, Karen has been dating snowboarding star Roland Fischnaller, with the pair enjoying such pursuits as rock-climbing and cycling.