Norwegian ski jumper Daniel-André Tande scared himself, his teammates and the rest of the country after a terrible fall last year. He made an amazing comeback at the World Cup in his homeland over the weekend, and promptly burst into tears.
“I had never expected to be anywhere near the winners’ platform this winter,” Tande told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Sunday evening. That was just after he won the individual men’s World Cup competition at Holmenkollen in Oslo. “Winning here at home at Holmenkollen … I don’t think anything is better than this.”
Tande, now age 28, had a serious accident on the ski flying jump at Planica in Slovenia last year. At a speed of nearly 103 kilometers an hour, he lost control, hit the steep slope, lost his skis and landed on his back. He was at first feared dead, then airlifted to the university hospital in Ljubljana and put into an artifical coma.
He broke his collarbone and punctured a lung but avoided serious head and neck injuries. The entire Norwegian team, along with competitors, were deeply disturbed but head coach Clas Brede Bråthen hailed the emergency response, the first aid administered at the site and the work of a trauma team. Bråthen has noted that it only took 59 minutes from when Tanded landed until he was at the hospital, and he also responded well to treatment.
So well that he won at Holmenkollen less than a year later. Bråthen could barely speak when interviewed by NRK, he was so overcome by emotion and pride. Tande himself was overwhelmed, cried openely and his teammates hoisted him up on their shoulders in celebration.
It was also an enormous source of inspiration just before the World Championships in ski flying begin later this week. Tande has shaken off any fears and fully intends to take part again.