Aksel Lund Svindal ended his season on Saturday after crashing in the downhill World Cup race at Kitzbuehel, Austria. The Norwegian ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and damaged a meniscus in his right knee.
Svindal and two Austrians - Georg Streitberger and Hannes Reichelt - caught the same rut hidden by flat light on the course; each skier fell in the same place. Streitberger also tore his ACL, and Reichelt suffered a severe bone bruise but is expected to recover by mid-February, according to BBC Sport.
Although the on-site rescue helicopter took off to pick up Svindal, the Norwegian stood up and walked to a snowmobile that took him down the hill. The seriousness of the injury was realized only hours later when he was examined in the hospital.
In a Facebook post showing Svindal in a hospital bed, he wrote, "For sure not the picture and update I wanted to post after Kitzbuehel. But here we are. I messed up my knee a little and about to go into surgery. Kinda sucks in the middle of winter, but that's life."
Crashes by Svindal, Reichelt and Streitberger caused officials to reexamine the safety of the course. After the beginning of the race was delayed due to snowfall and high wind, it was called after only 30 racers because of more high wind and poor visibility.
"There was no visibility problem when we started the race," FIS race director Markus Waldner told the Associated Press. "The snowfall had stopped and the wind had calmed down."
"We have some rolls in here," Waldner continued. "It was really difficult for the racers to see these rolls and probably this caused the mistakes. We know from this section, no mistake is allowed. It's the toughest section. The slope was good there."
Svindal missed all but one race of the 2014-2015 season due to a torn Achilles tendon from playing soccer.