Ivica Kostelic was released this evening from the hospital in Krasnaya Polyana where he underwent medical exams after injuring himself at his right knee while speeding down the steep slalom slope in Rosa Khotur. He plans to fly to Switzerland for further examination of the knee operated once more last spring in Basle.
"The MRI done this afternoon didn't really show something bad so we don't understand why Ivica feels so much pain now. That's why we are keen to move on to the hospital in Basle where he has been operated several times in recent years," Vedran Pavlek, the manager of the Croatian Alpine Ski Team told the press. "I can't say much more for the moment as we don't exactly know what kind of a problem has occured this afternoon during Ivica's slalom run. We hope it's not too bad."
Kostelic who clinched his second consecutive combined World Cup title today at the pre-Olympic events organized an hour drive North-East from Sochi where the 2014 Games will take place, has already suffered many injuries at his knees or his back since his junior years. He has been struggling with the right knee for several years now and decided to undergo another arthroscopic surgery last spring at the Bruderholzspital near Basle in the department of Prof Müller, one of the most established surgeons in that field.
Prof Müller has been a specialist on knee injuries for both Kostelic siblings as he also saved the career of Janica Kostelic after she badly crashed during a downhill training at St. Moritz in December 1999. A few months after her comeback in November 2000, Janica clinched the first of three overall World Cup titles at Are, in Sweden, after winning eight consecutive slalom races. Unfortunately, she had to return several times to the very same hospital for other injuries.
Despite lack on training until last summer, Ivica Kostelic managed to win three slaloms and two combined events this winter so far which put him back in the lead in the overall standings in January. Switzerland's Beat Feuz, who won his third speed race on Saturday and reached his tenth season podium on Sunday finishing 2nd in the super combined, is only 70 points behind him with five speed events left before the Finals at Schladming in five weeks.
Austria's Marcel Hirscher, who didn't compete at all in Russia this week, could also come back closer next week with more good results at Bansko, in Bulgaria, where a giant slalom and a slalom are scheduled. He is now only 218 points back.
Last year Kostelic crushed the rest of the field in January scoring nearly a thousand points that month while winning seven events in total and scoring big points in all events. This year instead he has been struggling in the speed events and in giant slalom. He is currently in the lead in the overall and the slalom standings with ten races to go prior to the Finals at Schladming, Austria.