PARIS — Norwegian skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde said that he was unsure if he would ever return to his competitive best after his horror crash during a World Cup downhill race on the Lauberhorn course in Wengen last month.
Kilde, the longtime partner of US skier Mikaela Shiffrin, has since undergone two surgeries, the first to repair a bad cut and nerve damage to his right calf and the second to fix two torn ligaments in his dislocated right shoulder.
The 31-year-old speed specialist was airlifted off the course and taken to a hospital in Bern after crashing into the safety net at full speed just before the end of his run in the Swiss Alps.
“It’s a situation that’s really unclear still with my injury,” Kilde said according to Reuters.
“Right now it’s too early for me to say whether I’ll be able to ski the way I want to, to be able to win races again.”
“Of course I want to come back to what I love and hopefully be able to be competitive again. But right now it’s focused on getting back on my feet and work on walking to begin with, and take day by day.”
Kilde, who won the overall World Cup title in 2020, is one of three elite skiers to have suffered bad crashes last month.
France’s Alexis Pinturault also crashed on the Lauberhorn course during the Super-G, ending his season, while Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, the 2022 Olympic slalom gold medallist, suffered a season-ending knee injury on Jan. 20 in a giant slalom in Jasna.
Kilde said a packed calendar and extended daily programmes were contributing to an unsafe environment for athletes.
“I’ve been pretty open about the calendar and the schedule to begin with. I think we need to look into it, and I think we as athletes need to speak up,” he added. “I don’t think it’s sustainable.
“Wherever you go there’s a night programme, and with a night programme… you have a prize-giving ceremony and it’s usually pretty late … (It’s) really kind of stressful for all the athletes.
“It’s super important that we look at something that’s more sustainable. This year, I think we’ve seen that there’s been a lot of injuries, and that is not the case we want to have. We don’t have any room to lose anybody.”
Elsewhere, Lara Gut-Behrami won a World Cup giant slalom by a large margin and trimmed Mikaela Shiffrin’s lead in the overall standings to 95 points with the American out injured.
Gut-Behrami beat Alice Robinson, of New Zealand, and Olympic champion Sara Hector, who tied for second, by 1.09 seconds on the steep Erta course at the Kronplatz resort.
Shiffrin crashed in a downhill in nearby Cortina d’Ampezzo and avoided major injury after hitting the safety nets at high speed but was still banged up and hasn’t raced since because of issues with her left knee. Shiffrin led Gut-Behrami by 420 points before she crashed.
“Mikaela is doing relatively well under the circumstances. Nothing serious has happened: no broken bones, no torn ligaments,” US Alpine director Patrick Riml told Austrian broadcaster ORF. “She is currently in Innsbruck, doing rehab, and we hope she will be back on the World Cup in the near future.
“The MCL is a bit sprained,” Riml added. “She had that bone bruise from the crash in Levi that was the same knee, so that all has developed a bit negatively again.”
Riml then told Swiss broadcaster SRF: “We hope that in the next, hard to say, 10, 14, maybe 20 days, she will return to the World Cup.