The 2011 overall World Cup champion Ivica Kostelic is again facing tough times. Yet another time in his long career already marked by several serious injuries and many operations after injuring himself in his knee last Sunday. While steaming down the slalom leg of the last combined event of the 2012 season on the Olympic Rosa Khutor course, the 32-year-old Croat suddenly suffered strong pain in his right knee. He did manage to safely end his run and win the competition to clinch the combined World Cup globe yet he had a hard time moving around on his feet afterwards.
A first series of exams were made in the local hospital situated near the resort of Krasnaya Polyana but the MRI results were not clear enough for Ivica Kostelic to understand the dimension of the injury so the Croatian team decided to move to another place in order to know more about the painful knee damage.
"Ivica Kostelić was unable to get in time in the evening to Basle, Switzerland to land before the airport closed at 10 PM. Consequently, he first flew to Zagreb. In the night Dr. Igor Borić performed the necessary MRI at the Zabok-based Sv. Katarina Hospital in Zagreb," Croatian Team spokesman Nenad Eror told the press earlier today.
"This particular MRI was of better quality than the initial one as it provided more precise images from various angles. Unfortunately, they showed a tear of the anterior horn and corpus of the right knee's medial meniscus," stated the official press release.
Ealier today, Ivica flew to the Bruderholzspital near Basle for further medical examinations by arthroscopic specialists Prof Dr. Werner Müller and Dr. Claude Müller who have already operated on his knee several times in past years. After another examination, they decided to do a small operation later on this afternoon."The doctors in Basle think that is not so bad. The broken piece of cartilage in one part of meniscus that prevents the full extension of the injured knee and creates the strong pain will be removed now.
We hope it goes fine and we will come back with new info after 5 PM (CET) today," explained Vedran Pavlek, the Director of the Croatian Alpine Ski Federation.The next World Cup events in which Kostelic was supposed to compete after the pre-Olympic events held this weekend nearby Sochi take place this coming weekend at Bansko, in Bulgaria, where a giant slalom and a slalom are scheduled. This winter, the 2003 slalom world champion was able to win three slaloms and three combined events despite little summer training after a previous surgery done on the same knee injured during the second giant slalom run at the FIS Worlds at Garmisch-Partenkirchen a year ago.
This injury didn't prevent Ivica to keep on racing until the end of the season to collect his first overall World Cup title in March thanks to his impressive series of seven victories in January 2011. He nearly scored a thousand points during that month and created a huge gap on all the other top contenders.
Since his junior years, Kostelic has been plagues by nearly a dozen of serious injuries, yet he always managed to fight back and raise his level. One of his most remarkable feat took place in November 2001, when he won the World Cup slalom at Aspen a few days after his 22nd birthday with bib 64 ten months after another grueling injury sustained in January 2001.
After the operation the Croatian Ski Association issued the following statement:
“Today at the Bruderholz Clinic in Basle, Ivica Kostelić has been successfully operated by doctors Prof. Dr. Werner Müller and Dr. Claude Müller. The surgery confirmed the doctors’ diagnoses as well as the results of the MRI performed by Igor Borić M.D. in Zagreb."
"Ivica had a tiny piece of his torn medial meniscus in a right knee removed as it had been causing pain and preventing the full extension of the knee in question. The teams of doctors in Basle believe the meniscus’ tear was caused when landing after the high jumps during the downhill in Sochi (RUS), and that during the super-combined slalom the said piece of meniscus simply fell off because of the rotations."
"The encouraging news is that the condition of the anterior cruciate ligament and cartilage in Ivica’s right knee is satisfactory and that the cartilage is recovering better than expected."
"Ivica Kostelić will remain until Wednesday in Basle where he will complete the initial rehabilitation, and on Thursday he will continue with his rehabilitation at the Daruvar Spa, under the supervision of Boidar Egić, M.D."
"Should he not suffer any major pain during the first few days and should the rehabilitation process go as planned, Ivica Kostelić might return to World Cup races in Kranjska Gora on March 10-11, 2012."