Injuries are part of a professional athletes’ life and yet it’s not an easy thing to handle. Last season, several top athletes were hit by severe, partly season ending injuries. What they have in common is certainly a strong wish to come back at the highest level and a tenacious fighting spirit. In that pre-season period, their efforts are being rewarded, as most of them were able to return to the snow and start preparations for the Olympic season.
The 2016/17 season of the Overall winner 2015/16 ended abruptly and dramatically, as Lara Gut tore her ACL during warm-up for the alpine combined of the World Championships in her home country.
It was another setback for the Swiss athlete – who already had to sit out an entire season due to hip problems in 2010 – but Gut never gave up and made her first return to snow on 4th September. Currently, she is accumulating kilometres on the snow in Valle Nevado (CHI) and plans to return to the World Cup for the North American races in mid-November.
Also for Anna Veith the years after her Overall World Cup wins (2014 & 2015) were not easy. Only a few days before starting the new season 2015/16, the Austrian all-round skier crashed and suffered a torn ACL. She returned to the World Cup Tour in December 2016, with strong results including a 3rd place in super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo 2017. However, the chronic inflammation of her patella tendon caused too much pain and she had to undergo surgery again in February 2017.
Now, the defending Olympic champion in super-G 2014 has a chance to ski pain free again and come back at the highest level. A first milestone has been set mid-September with a first ski training.
Aksel Lund Svindal
For the second year in a row, Aksel Lund Svindal had a brilliant start into the World Cup season but then got sidelined for the rest of the winter. Following last year’s torn ACL, the doctors discovered a problem in the left meniscus that required surgery. A little more than six months later, the Norwegian superstar was able to join his team for some on-snow training at the beginning of August in Fonna (NOR). He had some mixed emotions, but no doubt that the attacking Viking will do everything to be back among the best speed skiers of the World for the upcoming Olympic season.
Like Svindal, Ted Ligety had to put an end to his comeback season 2016/17, only one year after he suffered a torn ACL. In January 2017, he suffered strong nerve pain in his left leg and decided to undergo surgery to fix the problem. Already in March, the multiple World Champion was back on skis for some powder skiing and he restarted gate training in April. Hopefully the Olympic Champion 2014 in giant slalom can be back at the top to defend his title.
Eva Maria Brem
The Austrian giant slalom specialist can certainly confirm that an athletes’ career can be a roller coaster. After her dream of a World Cup globe came true in 2016 with the giant slalom title, Brem literally broke her lower leg (both tibia and fibula) what forced her to sit out the 2016/17 season. Recovery time is not over yet, but in June, Brem could go back on skis. It wasn’t proper training yet but the goal was to find the feeling again and get re-motivated for the rest of the recovery phase.
The Austrian speed skier had a tough 2016/17 season. Shortly after her breakthrough on the World Cup level, a severe knee injury including a torn ACL in mid-January set her back and prevented her from any ski training for more than six months. Conny Huetter’s joy when she got back on skis in August was huge and the feeling came back. She was even able to join the team for a training camp in La Parva.
Also on his way to a comeback from a hip injury suffered at the test events in Jeongseon 2016, Italy’s Matteo Marsaglia tore his ACL during training in Chile in September 2016. 315 days later, the Italian speed skier is back on skis and hopes for an injury free season 2017/18.