Svindal drops rest of ski season

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Norway’s alpine skiing star Aksel Lund Svindal has decided to let his comeback in the World Championships be his only participation in this year’s ski season. The 32-year-old downhill racer is aiming for an even bigger comeback next season.

Aksel Lund Svindal won the overall season downhill title in Switzerland on Wednesday morning, but a disappointing performance in Thursday's super-G race all but put the Norwegian out of contention for the World Cup title. While Svindal was still in the lead, Austrian rival Marcel Hirscher was just 19 points behind, with Hirscher's pet slalom events still to come over the weekend. PHOTO: Agence Zoom/International Ski Federation

Aksel Lund Svindal aims to get back into winning form, like here during last year’s skiing season. PHOTO: Agence Zoom/International Ski Federation

Svindal impressed the skiing world again when he placed sixth in both the Super-G and the men’s downhill at the World Championships in Beaver Creek, Colorado earlier this month. They were his first races after he tore his Achilles tendon last fall, and skiing experts thought he made a remarkable recovery. Even though Svindal is more accustomed to winning medals at the world championships and the Olympics, a sixth-place finish was considered sensational, so quickly after such a serious injury.

He can’t push his luck, though, and the coach of the national ski team Håvard Tjørhom told state broadcaster NRK on Wednesday that the season “is now over for him.” Tjørhom said Svindal prefers to concentrate on training and preparations for next season. “He did well at the World Championships, but his Achilles isn’t completely healed,” Tjørhom told NRK.

Svindal’s decision to bow out for the rest of the season also has to do with some complicated rules laid down by the international skiing federation (FIS). NRK reported that when he tore his Achilles in October, he was granted the status as “injured” and lost only five spots in the FIS rankings, from the first place he held to fifth.

That means he’ll have a good starting position next season, but if he had raced in more than one World Cup event sooner than eight months after he was injured, he’d lose his “injured” status, the points granted for rankings, and the good starting position.

Tjørhom said it was “too bad” Svindal thus couldn’t risk skiing more races this season. He and Svindal were especially keen for Svindal to race at Kvitfjell, back home in Norway, but both also concede that Svindal isn’t functioning at 100 percent. Svindal told NRK earlier that his injury still holds him back.

He’s working out now, though, with the team heading for the European Cup and he intended to train with the technical crew next week.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund