Lightning changes German's outlook

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

One German forward really has survived a death-defying scare -- off the ice.

Michaela Lanzl was struck by lightning last summer but did not even realize it until the next day.

The lightning girl was in Germany to visit her younger sister and national squad teammate, Andrea, and were enjoying a barbecue in the backyard.

"There was a thunderstorm but it didn't sound like it was too near," Lanzl recalled after team Germany's practice at the Winter Club's Dominion Securities Centre yesterday. "So, we stayed outside and ate and, all of a sudden, the lightning hit the swimming pool. There was a loud, loud crash and you could see red clouds, like red smoke.

"It happened so fast and I could see lightning coming towards me on the ground. The ground was wet and stuff, so I just jumped out of my chair and I said, 'OK, what just happened?' I felt dizzy and my heart was beating like crazy. But I thought it was just normal, I was just surprised and shocked. But nobody else felt weird."

In fact, she felt tipsy.

"I felt like I was drunk but I didn't drink anything at all," said the 5-foot-4, 128-pounder. "I couldn't see. I was like, 'Oh my God.' The funniest thing was, and this sounds crazy, but I was at home on my computer afterwards and I wanted to hit enter and I didn't even have to touch the key (to make it work)."

And Lanzl still felt strange the next morning.

"My navel piercing started bleeding and so did my earring (piercings) so I was like, 'Hmm, maybe it hit me,'" she said. "So I went to the doctor the next day. The thing was, I didn't wear shoes and that's why it hit me and no one else. I was barefoot."

Before she could lace up skates again, Lanzl had to go through a series of tests in Germany and at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

"I am lucky to be alive -- and unlucky at the same time," said Lanzl, 23. "It was unlucky that it hit me because I couldn't practise for two or three weeks because it can be dangerous for the heart. The doctor said it's like you burned your finger and the heart needs time to recover, too, it's a little bit burned.

"And when I went back to the U.S. where I play, I told them the story because we had to tell them everything. I did the physical examination and I had to do all the tests on my heart."

The scare has changed her outlook on life.

"I just thought, 'Oh my God, things can happen so fast that you should be glad about every minute in your life,' and appreciate it," she said. "But I stay in the house during thunderstorms now."

Although the Germans are realistic about their chances at the 2007 Women's World Hockey Championship that starts this week, they are hoping to at least take the Swiss by storm.

"The most important game is against Switzerland because we know that we cannot win against Canada," said head coach Peter Kathan. "But we can win against Switzerland or other countries.

"Right now we're fifth in world rankings and that's how we want to come out of the tournament. If we can beat Switzerland, we might be able to finish fourth overall. Switzerland is the enemy and the team that we always want to beat and if we beat Switzerland, the mood for the whole tournament will be great. If not, we'll be a little bit down."

Germany finished fifth at the Winter Olympics.

"We definitely don't want to do any worse than that," said Denise Soesilo, a 5-foot-6, 136-pound forward who also plays hockey for Yale University.


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