Injured downhill star Kilde calls for better World Cup race schedules to protect athletes

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Skiers must be consulted on better schedules for World Cup races to protect them from injuries, downhill star Aleksander Aamodt Kilde said on Thursday.

The former overall World Cup champion and two-time Olympic medalist spoke in his first call with international media since a shocking accident on January 13 on the legendary Wengen downhill ended his season .

“It is extremely important that we consider something more sustainable,” Kilde said in an online call from his winter base in Austria where he plans to spend several weeks in a wheelchair. “As athletes, we need to speak up.”

The 31-year-old Norwegian is among a host of World Cup, Olympic and World champions who have had a busy schedule in January, including his partner Mikaela Shiffrin. The standout American skier is aiming for a sixth overall World Cup title, tying the women’s record.

Kilde broke the barriers at the final turn of the longest downhill of the season on the third day in a row, and after two third-place finishes, he packed his schedule with media and public events.

His injuries were reported to be a dislocated shoulder and a lacerated calf, although both were more serious than first appeared.

WATCH | Kilde airlifted after Wengen crash:

Norway’s Kilde airlifted from Wengen World Cup downhill course after serious crash

Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde crashed violently into the fencing on Saturday during the World Cup downhill race in Wengen, Switzerland and had to be evacuated by helicopter.

Kilde said he posted a vivid photo of his leg injury on social media to help people understand its severity. He received calls and messages from people congratulating him that his injuries were not more serious and hoping to see him running again soon.

“I was like, ‘No, you won’t!'” he said Thursday, adding that the photo included in an Instagram slideshow was intended to “get some kind of respect around my injury that I I feel like I need it.”

Kilde is recognized as one of the strongest and hardest-working ski racers, although he acknowledges his future is unclear.

“It’s too early for me to say if I will be able to ski the way I want to and win races again,” he said, adding that his first priority was to walk again. “I’m pretty sure everything will be okay in the end.”

Kilde wants to be heard by race organizers, including the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS).

Currently, a top skier’s day can begin before sunrise and include piste inspection, races, post-race ceremonies and on-course media work. Later there is a televised evening usually in a town square for another trophy presentation, media interviews and the presentation of the starting bibs for the next day’s race.

“We need to sit down with the people involved in this and see what we can do better for the years to come,” he said. “We have no possibility of losing anyone.”

WATCH | The Granary of Canada crashes violently in Cortina:

Canadian Val Grenier falls violently during the Cortina d’Ampezzo World Cup super-G race

After winning a bronze medal in Friday’s downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, Val Grenier of St-Isidore, Ont., crashed hard Sunday in the super-G race and was kicked out of the race. slide course.

Evening events are often broadcast live by the host station’s national public broadcaster and are used to promote the races.

“This is a balancing act to minimize athletes’ time commitments while ensuring appropriate promotion of World Cup competitions, both on site and on television,” the FIS said. “The athletes’ voice is essential in helping all stakeholders find the best solutions and open dialogue is always welcome.”

Kilde agreed that new technologies such as cut-resistant clothing layers can help protect athletes.

Also absent for the season: Alexis Pinturault, overall champion of the 2021 World Cup one year after Kilde; Marco Schwarz, who was leading in the general classification when he crashed on December 28; and Petra Vlhova, women’s overall champion three years ago.

Shiffrin crashed last Friday during a downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, which will host the women’s races at the 2026 Olympics. She avoided serious injury but is taking time to recover.

“It’s been very, very nice,” Kilde said of spending more time with his partner, “but it’s also kind of stupid to have this situation where we’re both hurt.

“It’s a risky sport and we know the consequences of a fall.”

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