Fenninger hospitalized with knee injury after training crash

SOELDEN, Austria (AP) Two-time overall champion Anna Fenninger will miss the entire World Cup season after seriously damaging her right knee during a training crash Wednesday, three days before the Alpine skiing circuit starts.

The Austrian skier underwent surgery after tearing ligaments in a fall during a giant slalom run. The 26-year-old Fenninger was transported by helicopter to a clinic in nearby Innsbruck after the incident.

''The operation went well,'' said Austrian team doctor Christian Hoser, adding that Fenninger will need between nine and 12 months of recovery before getting back on skis.

''It's a very serious injury, but not the worst possible injury for a skier,'' Hoser said. ''There is hope and a realistic chance that she will be able to continue her career.''

Hoser referred to another Austrian skier, Stephan Goergl, who returned to World Cup ski racing after suffering an identical injury nine years ago.

According to the doctor, Fenninger tore the medial collateral and the cruciate ligament as well as the patellar tendon in the right knee.

Fenninger's personal coach, Meinhard Tatschl, said the crash initially looked harmless.

''It was a normal training run, the course was perfect, not bumpy,'' the coach told the Austria Press Agency. ''It was an unlucky crash, nothing unusual. This kind of crashes happens all the time. She slipped away on the inner ski. Her knee hurt a bit ... but only later the pain increased.''

Fenninger, who is the GS world champion, won the season-opening giant slalom last year, sharing victory with Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States. She went on the win her second straight overall title, coming from behind to beat closest rival Tina Maze of Slovenia. Maze has taken a break from racing and won't compete this season.

The injury comes after a turbulent off-season preparation time for Fenninger, who struggled with another knee injury and off-piste troubles.

The patella, which connects knee cap and tibia, has been causing her problems for years. The pain forced her to quit a practice session as a precautionary measure last month. She missed several weeks of training on snow but said last week on Austrian TV she was ready to race the season-opener.

Fenninger's preparations were also disturbed as she quarreled for months with the Austrian ski federation about her manager, Klaus Kaercher, and about her wish to have one of the team physicians working exclusively for her. Fenninger quit a national training camp in Cyprus in May, and even threatened to leave the federation.

The conflict erupted when Fenninger appeared in an advertising campaign for Mercedes, a rival brand of one of the governing body's main sponsors, Audi.

Mercedes later withdrew the campaign and Fenninger parted ways with her manager.

Fenninger, who is the Olympic super-G champion, has won four gold medals and eight in total at Olympics and world championships. She has won 14 World Cup races.

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