Austrian skier Mayer airlifted to local hospital

VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) Olympic champion Matthias Mayer of Austria has been airlifted to a local hospital after crashing in a World Cup downhill race.

Manufacturer Dainese said it was the first time a safety air bag was inflated during a race.

Mayer lost control and spun around, flying down the hill backward.

He landed hard on his right side and organizers said he had trouble breathing initially.

Austrian winter sports federation director Hans Pum said Mayer had a big bruise and that the skier was conscious when flown to a hospital in Bolzano.

''It proved the air bag has an important place in speed skiing,'' Pum said.

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