Skier Hans Grugger retires after life-altering injury
Austrian skier Hans Grugger has ended his career, 15 months after life-threatening head injuries during a training crash on the World Cup downhill course in Kitzbuehel.
Grugger said on Tuesday he has given up on his attempted comeback as he has still not regained full control of his right leg.
"There is a chance of improvement, but you can't tell how long this is going to take," the 30-year-old Grugger said. "That's why I have taken this decision now."
Grugger underwent a five-hour emergency brain operation and was kept in an induced coma for 11 days after smashing his head on the icy slope on Jan. 20 last year. In May, he announced plans to return to top-level ski racing, and five months later he resumed ski training.
Grugger's accident on the demanding Streif course was the third of its kind in four years. Scott Macartney of the United States in 2008 and Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland a year later also sustained head injuries, but both racers returned to the World Cup.
Grugger said he did not regret having to retire.
"This step did not hurt at all," he said. "I am immensely happy and thankful that I am doing well. That I can't race in the future is just a relatively minor problem. I can ski for fun and do almost anything I want to do."
Austria men's head coach Mathias Berthold said Grugger will be missed by the team.
"We lose a super athlete and a great person," Berthold said.
"As a coach, I am sad that I won't be able to work with him again but I am also glad that Hans is doing well."
Grugger won four World Cups from 2004-07 -- two downhills, two super-Gs -- in a career marred by injuries.
He missed the 2006 Turin Olympics after injuring his hip in a downhill crash in Bormio, Italy, two months earlier. He tore ligaments in his left knee twice in 2007, and sustained similar damage to his right knee the next season.