Injuries take their toll leading into St Moritz World Championships
The HEAD World Cup Rebels programme has always prided itself on the strength of its team. When the team is shorn of two of its absolute stars then the whole team feels this.
There will be no fourpeat for Ted Ligety in the Men’s Giant Slalom as an injury to his back has meant that along with Aksel Lund Svindal, Ligety has been another to fall victim to injury to his body.
Both Ligety and Svindal’s injuries were well documented in January. Svindal had taken part in the training runs for the Alpine Combined and Downhill events in Wengen but then pulled out of the Alpine Combined event the night before due to knee pains. As the defending Champion of the Lauberhorn Downhill race this was something that he was not too happy about.
Ligety had not been totally on song all season and the injury to his back had affected his performances all season. Looking to the 2017 - 2018 season is now his focus.
In the run up to the World Championships, Andre Myhrer, the standout Slalom racer of the HEAD World Cup Rebels team as well as expected to have been competing in the top echelons of the Giant Slalom race, has also fallen victim to an injury to his back. Myhrer missed Schladming to try and give his back time to heal. Having won the World Cup Finals Slalom in St Moritz in 2016, much is hoped from Myhrer for St Moritz.
It is not just the small slalom team that has been affected by injury in the run up to the Championships. The conditions in Garmisch for the final downhill before St Moritz also caused Guillermo Fayed to pull out of the second of the two races with bruising to his knee. While one door closes perhaps for Fayed, this may allow one of the rising talents of the HEAD World Cup Team to obtain a ticket to St Moritz. Blaise Giezendanner has been gaining experience and turning heads all season with his promising performances.
January is a tough month for the Speed Men: Wengen, Kitzbuehel and Garmisch are three of the biggest and gnarliest races on the tour and they come one after another. A long course followed by a fast course and then a dark course with big jumps: This all takes its toll on the body of the racer.
“Injuries are part of the sport,” Giezendanner explained after Garmisch, a race that had taken two of his teammates out. “Sport is cruel, from being on the podium to being out of it six days later but it is part of it,” he added.
From being moments away from glory and winning a race, the sport can bite you. Lara Gut witnessed this in Cortina as she hooked her arm in a gate and this destroyed her run. While Gut may have been lucky, she explained after the race that she would skip the City Event in Stockholm as a precaution in preparation for the World Championships.
Rainer Salzgeber commented that the absence of Svindal would be felt by the team as he is the “benchmark of the team,” he is the indicator of how things are going. Beat Feuz recovered from hitting the nets in Kitzbuehel to being on the podium in Garmisch, so Salzgeber is still optimistic and hopeful for the top spot in the Downhill.
With Anna Veith and Lindsey Vonn both having come back from injury and having taken a podium and won a race, there is light at the end of the injury tunnel!
HEAD wish all their injured athletes a speedy and healthy recovery including Karoline Pichler, Verena Gasslitter, Aline Danioth, Axel Patricksson, Sandro Viletta, Taina Barioz, Nina Ortlieb, Edit Miklos, Aksel Svindal, Ted Ligety, Lotte Smiseth Sejersted, Carmen Thalmann and Guillermo Fayed.
Photo Credit to Aksel Lund Svindal and Ted Ligety