The ski-racing world was shocked in August to hear that Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champ Hermann Maier was hospitalized after severely breaking his leg in a motorcycle crash.
Maier was hit by a German motorist near Salzburg, Austria. It was originally reported that Maier's leg was almost severed in the accident, and that he suffered serious kidney damage. But according to head surgeon Artur Trost, who treated Maier, the injuries, while serious, were unlikely permanent: "He suffered an open break of both bones in his lower right leg, as well as heavy bruising to his upper right leg, right heel, and lower left leg." Maier underwent surgery that lasted almost seven hours. He also lost parts of his two front teeth.
It was unclear at press time whether Maier, who was favored to win gold again in Salt Lake City, would be able to return to skiing. "It's not about racing in Kitzbühel in January," said Johannes Zeibig, Maier's personal doctor. "Hermann is just pleased that he can move his toes." Peter Schrocksnadel, president of the Austrian Ski Federation, added, "Right now winning is secondary to Hermann's general health. But with his unique physical condition, he will win this race, too."