Former overall World Cup champion Ivica Kostelic suffered a bad crash earlier this week while skiing on the glacier above Hinterdux, Austria. The 32-year-old skier from Zagreb will need to take a short break to fully recover his momentum prior the first race of this World Cup season planned in Soelden, Tyrol.
"During a slalom run at Hintertux, Ivica Kostelić cought a gate, fell quite hard on his side and hurt his right hip and his knee," said a member of the Croatian Ski Association in a press release on Wednesday. "Since the pain didn't go away by Tuesday late afternoon, Ivica and his staff decided to return to Zagreb in the evening for a medical check. A magnetic resonance imaging was made by Igor Borić, M.D., at the St. Catherine Hospital in Zabok on Wednesday morning. It was diagnosed that Ivica Kostelic luckily did not suffer any major injury, neither at his hip nor at his his knee. However he decided to take a short break to recover from the strong bruises he suffered during his fall," he added.
"The return on snow is scheduled for the end of this week in Soelden, eventually on Saturday which is, according to the Internationl Ski Federation's rules, the last possible day for free training on the Rettenbacher slope where the first World Cup race of the coming season will be held a week later," commented Nenad Eror, one of the Press Officers of the Croatian Federation. "Between that test and the opening race at Soelden, Ivica will stay at his permanent base at Hintertux and hopes to be able to train normally again on the glacier," added Mr. Eror.Setbacks are nothing new to the 2003 slalom world champion whose brilliant career has often be plagued by severe injuries since the late 1990s. The ligaments of his two knees have often been operated in the last thirteen years, including at the end of last season when he strained a knee ligament while racing in Russia on the Olympic downhill course at Krasnaya Polyana, near Sochi.
Kostelic was sidelined during nearly a month after arthroscopic surgery in Switzerland and lost his lead in the Overall World Cup standings during his recovery. He returned on scene at Kranjska Gora, in Sovenia, a week prior the Finals at Schladming yet he could not prevent Sweden's André Myhrer from beating him in the slalom World Cup standings at Schladming while Austria's Marcel Hirscher clinched the large crystal globe.The brother of former superstar Janica Kostelic, a four-time Olympic champion in 2002 and 2006 and a three-time overall World Cup champion, has worked hard in past years to become the most complete ski racer on the World Cup tour and a brilliant champion able to excel in all alpine events. A winner in 24 World Cup events since November 2001, Kostelic achieved a series of amazing performances last year, celebrating a total of seven victories within a single month in January 2011. Last winter he won six events and seemed able to successfully defend his overall and slalom World Cup crowns prior his injury. He did capture the combined Cup after his last win in Russia where he raced the slalom despite his knee injury.
At Schladming, Ivica Kostelic had to content himself with 4th place in the final overall standings behind Hirscher, Switzerland's Beat Feuz and Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal. A year ago, he finished the giant slalom at Soelden at an encouraging 5th place.