Anna Fenninger tears knee ligaments, ski season likely done
Suffers 'tough injury' 3 days before 1st World Cup race
Two-time overall champion Anna Fenninger is likely to miss the entire World Cup season after seriously damaging her right knee during a training crash Wednesday in Soelden, Austria, three days before the alpine skiing circuit starts.
The Austrian skier was set to undergo surgery later Wednesday after tearing ligaments in a fall during a giant slalom run. The 26-year-old Fenninger was transported by helicopter to a clinic in nearby Innsbruck after the incident.
"Anna has seriously damaged ligaments in the right knee, which requires surgery," Austrian team doctor Christian Hoser said. "She's got a tear of the medial collateral and of the cruciate ligament. Also, she has torn the patellar tendon in the right knee, which also needs surgery."
It was not immediately clear how long Fenninger will be sidelined for, but athletes often need more than six months to recover from torn knee ligaments.
"It's a tough injury," Fenninger's personal coach, Meinhard Tatschl, told the Austria Press Agency. "We'll have to wait until after the operation to make a prognosis."
Tatschl said the crash initially looked harmless.
"It was a normal training run, the course was perfect, not bumpy," the coach said. "It was an unlucky crash, nothing unusual. This kind of crashes happens all the time. She slipped away on the inner ski. Her knee hurt a bit ... but only later the pain increased."
Fenninger, who is the giant slalom world champion, won the season-opening race last year, sharing victory with Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States. She went on the win her second straight overall title, coming from behind to beat closest rival Tina Maze of Slovenia. Maze has taken a break from racing and won't compete this season.
The injury comes after a turbulent off-season preparation time for Fenninger, who struggled with another knee injury and off-piste troubles.
The patella, which connects knee cap and tibia, has been causing her problems for years. The pain forced her to quit a practice session as a precautionary measure last month. She missed several weeks of training on snow but said last week on Austrian TV she was ready to race the season-opener.
Fenninger, who is the Olympic super-G champion, has won four gold medals and eight in total at Olympics and world championships. She has won 14 World Cup races.