Austrian trio well on the road to recovery
There was good news coming out of the Austrian Snowboard Team camp this week with the announcement that three prominent World Cup athletes are on the road to recovery following injuries suffered last season, as snowboard cross athletes Markus Schairer and Lukas Pachner and parallel rider Sabine Schoeffmann have all returned to full work-outs.
The Gangwon 2009 SBX World Champion and Stoneham 2013 World Championship silver-medallist, Schairer is the most high-profile of the group and, with his injury suffered in the most high-profile event of last season at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, much interest has been placed on his recovery from a fractured vertebra.
However, after participating in the 22km “Wings for Life World Run” in Vienna in early May and with plans to return to snow this month, it appears it’s full speed ahead for the 31-year-old.
"I'm still motivated, even if I still feel tweaks here and there in my body. But that's just how it is at my age," Schairer said with a wink, before adding more seriously, ”I’m curious how the first days back on snow will work.”
As for Pachner, his road to recovery after a serious crash at the World Cup final in Veysonnez was even less assured after suffering a multi-faceted hip injury that had the potential to be career-ending. Thankfully, due in part to an intensive rehabilitation programme and in part to Pachner’s steely resolve, it appears the 26-year-old will be ready to return to the snowboard cross World Cup this upcoming December.
"There was a lot going on because the program was tailor made for me, and at the beginning I had the problem that through the dislocation and the surgery I first had to learn how to get my butt muscles back in the right neurological direction, which was a process that took some time has,” said Pachner of his lengthy recovery, "Physiotherapy and balance, coordination and strength exercises have helped me to rebuild muscle. I plan to train individually on snow at the end of August, join the team in September for training sessions, and return to World Cup racing in December."
Schoeffmann, meanwhile, had the heartbreaking bad luck to experience her injury at the final World Cup before the Games in Korea, fracturing her tibia and damaging ligaments in Bansko (BUL) in late January.
Instead of heading off to Korea to battle for Olympic gold, Schoeffmann had to undergo surgery in Innsbruck. "Of course, at first I was sad and disappointed, but after a relatively short time I regained my courage and faced the challenge of the injury", emphasizes the veteran of 74 World Cup starts.
In the past six months, the 26-year-old has gradually increased the burden of rehabilitation and training. "It was a bit of a hassle, especially at the beginning, but by now I'm ready to make the first turns on the snow," says Schoeffmann, "At the beginning I was a bit cautious, but with each trip it worked better and the training here is primarily to build up a good feeling, before we start with on-snow training on the glacier at the end of August," said Schoeffmann.