Crashing end for Kucera

SHAWN SLAGHT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

LAKE LOUISE -- One of Canada's Olympic medal hopefuls in alpine skiing, John Kucera, is out for the season with a fractured tibia.

The Calgarian crashed during the super G World Cup event yesterday at Lake Louise. He was at the fall away, the steepest section of the course, when he fell onto his hip and slid into the safety netting.

"Johnny is a tough cookie, and he didn't ski down," said Alpine Canada chief athletic director Max Gartner. "It obviously has to be something serious."

The race was stopped at that point, as Kucera was airlifted off the course.

Kucera, 25, has had a lot of success at the super G in Lake Louise. He found the podium last year with a second-place finish. He was the top Canadian at Saturday's downhill race at Lake Louise with a sixth-place finish.

Teammate Manuel Osborne-Paradis won the event, but he said standing at the top of the podium while Kucera went down was not a good feeling.

"Obviously. you never want to see that," Osborne-Paradis said. "It is the worst feeling in the world, especially when you are excited about what you are doing.

"It is part of the game, and you could see it before it happened," continued Osborne-Paradis. "He was coming in a little too straight and wasn't going to make the next gate."

The fall itself looked harmless, but Osborne-Paradis thought Kucera must have hit the safety netting wrong.

"It was one of those little things where you fall on your side," Osborne-Paradis said. "Everyone does it all the time."

For all of the excitement of Osborne-Paradis' win, there was mixed emotions from the Canadian National Alpine Ski team. News of the severity of Kucera's injury was not known until after the race.

"Obviously for Manny, it is incredible. He has been skiing well not just in super G but also in giant slalom, so he has really expanded and is taking great steps," said teammate Erik Guay. "For John, we haven't got any news on him, but he is a strong, young kid.

"Hopefully, it is just a bruise. If it is something more serious, there is no question he will bounce back."

The loss of Kucera will be a big one. He became the first Canadian male to win the downhill at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships last season. Most memorable was his downhill win in Val d'Isere, France, for his third career World Cup podium. He finished last season's incredible run with his eighth career national title in super G at the Canadian championships.


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