"It’s extremely frustrating," confessed the alpine director in beaver creek, america. "Whenever we were just about to catch up with the world’s best, these accidents happen to us."
Still on friday evening stechert was examined in detail by the knee specialist in vail – in a preliminary diagnosis the german team had still assumed "90 percent" of the third cruciate ligament rupture of the 27-year-old oberstdorfers. At least a slight all-clear was given: a thorough examination revealed a tear of the aubenband in the left knee, a contusion of the fibula head and a slight injury to the cartilage.
Should this diagnosis be confirmed by further tests in munich after the return flight this saturday, stechert would have to expect to be out of action for several weeks. So even a participation at the world championship in schladming in february could not be excluded.
After his sensational fifth place in lake louise, stechert was doing even better on the raubvogel slope when, on course for a podium place, he lost his ski on a right-hand turn. "I slipped on the inside ski, the aubenski grabbed and i got a hit on the knee, disc," said the 27-year-old still from a stretcher at the victory of the italian christof innerhofer. "It’s very hard, he was in the shape of his life," reported men’s head coach karlheinz waibel.
Teammate stephan keppler’s performance was similar when he crashed hard before the 2011 home world championships. Andreas strodl is still not back in the world cup after knee surgery. Throughout the past decade, athletes with good intentions were repeatedly thrown back or, like florian eckert, even had to end their careers. "We’re in a serious crisis right now because we can’t find the right approach," said maier about the current plight. "We keep having this form of untrap happen to us."
Stechert’s sister gina has already coped with her third cruciate ligament rupture – after almost two years, she was "really happy" about 14th place in the downhill at her successful world cup comeback in the canadian part of the rocky mountains. But the 25-year-old was no more a match for the outstanding american lindsey vonn than was maria hofl-riesch. With a gap of 1.74 seconds to her long-time rival, the double olympic champion finished in third place at the same time as tina weirather from liechtenstein – only one hundredth of a second behind stacey cook from the u.S.A.
It was both luck that i didn’t finish fourth, but also a bit of bad luck that i didn’t finish second, so i’m satisfied", said hofl-riesch after her second podium finish this winter and praised vonn’s performance: "lindsey was once again in her own league in lake louise". We should let her compete against the gentlemen."