Grugger Crashes in Kitzbühel

Austrian ski champion Hans Grugger was brutally injured Jan. 20 in a fall on the infamous “Mouse Trap” section on the Streif at Kitzbühel during the training day for the World Cup Ski Competition. Grugger landed on his side, hitting his head on the hard-packed surface of the course and was flown directly to the LHK Regional Hospital in Innsbruck. He was put into an induced coma after being diagnosed with a brain contusion and a chest injury.

“We watched the rescue and evacuation team working very accurately, very precisely,” FIS men’s race director Guenther Hujara told The Associated Press (AP).

The severity of the crash shocked the other skiers who were to follow. Didier Cuche from Switzerland, winner of both last year’s and this year’s events, described the challenge in an interview with the AP: “The problem is that you have several bumps in the first two turns. If you can’t keep your direction there, it can cause you real troubles.”

Doctors fear Grugger’s fall will have life-long consequences. “Head injuries like this one are considered to be perilous,” said Dr. Alexandra Kofler, the medical director of the Hospital in Innsbruck, for AP.

The traditional downhill course in Kitzbühel is said to be the hardest and most dangerous on the Fédération International du Ski (FIS) World Cup calendar. Some parts are nearly vertical and as hard as concrete, where skiers reach speeds up to 145km/h.

David Wörgötter

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