Kalle Palander suffered an ugly looking crash in the second run of the season opening GS race last Sunday in Soelden. Palander ˝slipped and got caught˝, a mistake that had him flying into the nets in a rather spectacular manner. He made his way down to the finish area and when we spoke to him it seemed he was lucky and didn’t get hurt.
“In the second run I tried to push a little more and pushed into the net, it’s not so fun to be there. The first thing when I left, I thought I broke my cross ligament, but now it feels ok. I think my knee is ok, just a bit torn or something.”
Unfortunately Palander's right knee started swelling and got stiffer in the days after the crash, an MRI Thursday morning confirmed the worst case scenario. A broken ACL and torn meniscus were the reason why the knee kept getting worse. Janez Slivnik, head coach of the Finnish men’s team confirmed the news, Palander will undergo surgery in Finland in the next two weeks and the season for him is over.
The 34-year-old Finnish skier started his World Cup career back in 1996 and three years later won a gold medal in Slalom at the World Ski Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek. That was just the beginning of an impressive career during which Palander reached the podium 30 times, winning 10 Slalom and four Giant Slalom races.
In early 2008 his career was force paused, he was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the left tibia. What seemed as an injury that wouldn’t keep him away from the slopes for too long, turned into three year long struggle to come back to racing.
The injury eventually healed, and prior to the season opening race in Soelden his spirits were high and he was greatly motivated to come back to where he had belonged for so many years. As you can see in the video shoot just prior to the race, Palander was looking forward to the season.
“I’ve been training both disciplines all the time pretty much, GS is for me of course a little bit easier starting with number 35 or something. Slalom is pretty heavy, number 50 with this age, if I can reach top 15 in this season I can say that was a good thing. But my goal is top 15 in GS and top 30 in SL.”
Slivnik said it’s way too early to comment on when we might see the Finnish champion back on the slopes, the news that what seemed as a benign crash will be ending Palander’s season early have yet to sink in and rehabilitation plans have to be made.
He has always been a fighter, even when a comeback from the stress fracture didn’t seem all that realistic, Palander kept working hard and eventually stood in the start gate in Soelden ready to face a new season. Unfortunately luck was not on his side this time and he will have to lose another season.
We wish him a speedy recovery and hope we will see him on the slopes as soon as possible. He didn’t give up so far and for the sake of his numerous fans we hope he won’t give up this time.
Get well soon Kalle!
By Ana Jelusic