American ski racer Breezy Johnson, top contender for next month’s gold medal Beijing Olympics in the women’s downhill, said Monday she will not compete at the Olympics because of a meniscus tear in her right knee that she suffered in the second of two high-speed training crashes in this month.
Saying she was heartbroken, Johnson admitted she had contemplated trying to race despite her injured knee. “But the doctors told me I could do more damage,” Johnson said in a phone interview from Germany. “I could throw away all of next season, or beyond, for a race – and not even know how well I can slip that race.
“I don’t want to just limp to the finish line.”
Johnson, who finished second in the last three World Cup downhill races she participated in, is having the best season of her career and looks to be peaking after some impressive results late in the season. before.
But a training accident on January 8 left Johnson, 26, with a cut and a swollen right knee. She rested her joints and sat out two races, then resumed training last week, becoming one of the fastest practice times before the World Cup went downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. But on the second day of downhill training in Italy, Johnson made a jarring, awkward landing jump and fell off the track into the protective nets surrounding the trail.
“I felt my knee creak and thought I had broken my meniscus into 400,000 pieces,” Johnson said. After a joint magnetic resonance imaging, Johnson said doctors told her “a large portion of the cartilage has come off the bone.”
She hopes to have surgery after flying back to the United States, and she hopes she can continue racing next season.
With Johnson’s departure, the path to the Olympic women’s downhill content gold medal is wide open. Italy’s Sofia Goggia, the defending Olympic champion in the case of leading the downhill standings of this year’s World Cup, fell in the snow in a messy crash during a super G race on Sunday and also may be too badly injured to compete in Beijing.
The Italian ski team said Goggia had sprained her left knee, partially torn a knee ligament and suffered a “slight fracture” of her fibula. There was also some tendon damage, though Goggia promised to start physical therapy for her injury immediately in hopes of defending her title in Beijing on February 15.
“I feel for Sofia, she’s been skiing great for two years now,” Johnson said. “I can’t imagine what she’s going through.”
Johnson added that Goggia’s possible departure from the Olympics made her wonder if she should rethink her plans to not ski in Beijing.
“Are you thinking, I don’t know, did I make the right decision?” she speaks.
She consulted again with her doctors, asking them if the inherent risk was the possibility that she could crash again. What if she rehabilitated her right knee, figured out how to effectively ski and stay upright? But Johnson was told that simply skiing at 80 mph, a typical downhill speed, could cause significant harm to her knees.
“So I thought, I can’t do this,” Johnson, who finished seventh in the downhill at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, said Monday.
The recovery Johnson experienced won’t be her first comeback from a serious injury. She had to recover from a broken tibial plateau in order to bring the US ski team to compete in Pyeongchang. Seven months after those Olympics, she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during practice and missed the entire World Cup season. In June 2019, she tore two ligaments in her left knee.
Now facing another knee reconstructive surgery, Johnson said she is motivated to make another comeback because so many other top racers have done so and continue to record those feats. their greatest achievement. For example, she mentioned Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who received an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction last year after slumping in training and is having a dominant season this winter.
“You see that and we’re all optimists, we’re all hoping this injury is the last one,” Johnson said. “You go through times where it breaks your heart and it crushes you because the sport will never love you back. It can’t just because it’s a sport. But you love it so much anyway. ”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/25/sports/olympics/breezy-johnson-injury-downhill.html Breezy Johnson will miss the Olympics with an injured knee