Swiss speed specialist Patrick Küng scored his career-best result of 2nd place in the downhill in Bormio in December 2011. Unfortunately his season was over pre-maturely in early March as he sustained an ACL tear in the final meters of the super-G on home snow in Crans-Montana. We met Patrick in Saas-Fee this week and had a chance to find out how his recovery is progressing.
So, Patrick, you have been back on skis since some two weeks now – how are you going?
Yes I’ve been back on skis since 1st September, and have done eight days of free skiing so far. It is going well, although the initial feeling was a bit strange. Luckily there’s been hardly any pain in the knee and skiing is going quite well now.
It is a long road back after an ACL injury. This time you did have a teammate to share that with, Marc Gisin. What was the hardest thing about the injury?
Yes, six months of rehab is a long time. At the end it was also a bit frustrating but we were really well taken care of. Since us both were injured on the same weekend in Crans-Montana, Marc and I ended up sharing a room during the rehab, and naturally it is all much easier when you can share it with someone. At the same time, I have to be honest that this felt like a major setback for me and I needed to take my time, especially in the beginning, to come to terms with it all.
It is not the first time that you had a major injury – is it easier the second time around?
True, I broke my tibia & fibula in 2006. But I have to say the second time was easier. You know for sure that it means six months of hard work. And this time I was on the national team which makes a difference in terms of the support infrastructure.
Your injury came not long after your career best result so far – your goal must be to get back on the same level?
I definitely hope to return to the top and I have set myself certain goals, Schladming being one of those. Of course I still have to qualify for the team and our men’s team is strong. The retirement of Didier Cuche and Amba Hoffmann may have opened up some spots, but the expectations on us are also high. I do think Lake Louise is realistic as return to racing but I need more time on snow to see where I really am and if scoring a good result there is possible. I have worked hard on my fitness and feel good but the coming few weeks in Zermatt are very important because we will be training downhill and super-G there.
Were you also able to take advantage of the time this summer to maybe study, or spend more time biking and golfing?
I did take the chance to meet a lot of people I had not seen in a long while. Unfortunately golf was not allowed this summer because of the rotational movement it causes on the knee so I've probably only played 1-2 times. But yes I have spent a lot of time on the road bike this summer and of course in the gym. Overall the rehab time has been very intensive.
Your motto is: “In harmony you will find the strength” – what does that mean for you?
I defined that motto when I was in the army. I find it fits me well. It means that you should not overdo things in cases such as this injury and then you will come back stronger. Take it easy but be consequent and the results will come.
If you had to mention three words that best describe you as a person, what would those be?
I would say I am cheerful, sociable and goal-oriented. That means: I am a cheerful person who also likes to enjoy the life beyond skiing. But I am very happy to have been able to make my hobby into my profession, so I keep focused on my goals and think that it will all work out.
Now, what do you want to be able to say when you look back at this World Champs season in March?
It is a bit difficult to say because of this injury and the limited time I have been on snow so far. But I do have certain goals in my mind even if I prefer not to talk about those at this point. So, I hope to be able to say: “I had a good season despite the injury.”