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NEWS FEATURE Svindal,

Europe, Europa
19.01.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Aksel Lund Svindal, Marcel Hirscher, Lindsey Vonn and Anna Veith are gold medal contenders at next month‘s Olympics as they have come back strongly from major injury setbacks.

Berlin (dpa) - Aksel Lund Svindal is defying ongoing knee problems as the injury-plagued Norwegian gears up for next month‘s Olympics where he aims for silverware, just as several other past injury victims.

The 35-year-old Svindal has overcome a string of major injuries in his career, ranging from a laceration of his groin and a ruptured Achilles tendon to a torn cruciate knee ligament.

The veteran will be eyeing more medals at the February 9-25 Games in Pyeongchang, just as American Lindsey Vonn and Austrians Anna Veith and Marcel Hirscher who have also made remarkable comebacks.

Svindal goes to South Korea as a top contender in the downhill and super-g, having won five world titles and a full set of medals at the 2010 Games: super-g gold, downhill silver and giant slalom bronze.

His latest major setback was the ruptured knee ligament from a crash at the treacherous Kitzbuehel downhill in 2016, followed by another operation on the meniscus in his other knee a year ago.

"The knee problems continue up to now," Svindal told Swiss paper Neue Zuercher Zeitung in mid-January.

The popular Norwegian has amassed 34 race wins in his career despite the three big setbacks, and he readily admitted in the interview that he would crash easier when he was in top shape.

"I was in really good shape at most of my crashes, that‘s not a coincidence. It is less dangerous when my form is not good and it‘s about placing 10th, as I take less risks. I am not a big daredevil, I weigh the risk in a very analytical way. I take more risks when I know I can win," he said.

Svindal wants to rebound from not medalling 2014 in Sochi, while Vonn did not even make it to Russia, leaving her with downhill gold and super-g bronze from 2010, plus a pair of 2009 world titles.

Having also missed the 2006 Games after a training crash, Pyeongchang probably offers the last Olympic chance for the 33-year-old Vonn.

Vonn missed Sochi over a twice-ruptured cruciate ligament, and despite further injuries over the following years - including a broken ankle and arm - she has managed to raise her tally of World Cup wins to 78, just eight shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s all-time record 86.

The three-time world champion Veith meanwhile won super-g gold and giant slalom silver 2014 in Sochi under her maiden name Fenninger before being sidelined for a long time over two major knee injuries from October 2015 and early 2017.

But the Austrian managed to return to the top of the podium last month at a super-g in Val d‘Isere which she named "my biggest victory.

"There are a lot of emotions. I have been dreaming about this for a long time. It wasn‘t easy. I went through a big low. I often considered quitting but so many people believed in me," Veith said.

Compatriot Hirscher meanwhile shrugged off an ankle fracture from mid-August as he is a familiar face again atop the World Cup standings, firmly on course for a record seventh straight title by winning eight of the 10 slaloms and giant slaloms contested so far in the season.

Olympic gold is the only big title so far eluding him, with a slalom silver from 2014 the lone medal at the Games for the six-time world champion.

American giant slalom winner Ted Ligety and Austrian downhill champ Matthias Mayer have also had major injury setbacks between their 2014 glory and Pyeongchang, and so has Swiss downhill bronze medallist Lara Gut.

 

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