Injury won't sideline Kucera permanently

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:58 PM ET

This Canadian Cowboy is determined to climb back into the saddle.

Just four days after breaking his lower left leg in a high-impact crash at Lake Louise that dashed his hopes of competing on home soil at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Calgary’s John Kucera insisted he’ll return to the ski racing circuit.

“Right when I crashed, and I was sliding on the hill and I realized my leg was broken, I pretty much came to peace with it right there,” Kucera said Thursday. “Skiing is a funny sport. It’s a dangerous sport and injuries are a reality. For me, once I knew that I was out for the season, I’m not dwelling on it any more. I’m looking forward to letting this heal up properly and getting back to work and making my comeback.”

Prior to Sunday’s gut-wrenching wipeout, Kucera was being billed as one of Canada’s best bets to earn an Olympic medal on the slopes at Whistler in February.

That all changed in a matter of seconds on Sunday afternoon. Kucera was competing in the season-opening World Cup super-giant slalom race when he caught an edge on some soft snow, cartwheeled twice and tumbled into a safety net.

The 25-year-old suffered a compound fracture of his tibia and fibula and also some soft tissue damage when one of the broken bones pierced the calf muscle in his left leg. He was airlifted off the mountain and rushed to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, where he went under the knife that same night.

Although he was still hospitalized Thursday, Kucera was remarkably upbeat on a morning conference call, joking that, “If I didn’t want to get hurt, I could be a badminton player.”

The defending world downhill champion admitted it’s “a bit of a bummer” to be sidelined for the Vancouver Games, but made it clear his Olympic dreams are far from dead.

“I have a lot of skiing left ahead of me,”Kucera said. “There is going to be a couple, if not three more Olympics in my career.”

Kucera’s teammates, known collectively as the Canadian Cowboys, visited him in hospital before jetting to Colorado for the second World Cup stop of the season. He’s thinking about making the trip to Whistler to lend his support in February.

“We’ve got a strong group of guys and they’re all contenders for a podium,” Kucera said. “They’re all great skiers. They’ve all been there. They’ve all proven it not just once, but on several different occasions. I think we’ve got a good group of guys that’ll make the country proud.”


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