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ACL tear threatens Kristina Koznick's Torino dream

ACL tear threatens Kristina Koznick’s Torino dream{mosimage}American independent skier Kristina Koznick, racing in likely her final season on the World Cup circuit, suffered a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee Saturday and is highly questionable for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games.

In an e-mail, Koznick said she fell several feet when she skied off a catwalk she didn’t see near warm-up courses for the second giant slalom race in Ofterschwang, Germany.

“Between the two warm-up courses there was a cat track that dropped about seven feet onto a flat road and I went over it without seeing it,” Koznick wrote. “I wasn’t the only one that did so – Schild, Ertl, Simard, Hargin, Kaylin Richardson – we all went over it and had no idea until it was too late. Everyone was hurting a little, but no one but myself had to go to get an MRI. … I didn’t crash or anything, but I felt my knee right when I landed and knew it was bad.”

“I also have some pretty good bone bruising,” Koznick wrote in her online journal at www.koznick.com. “At first the plan was to head directly to Colorado in case I needed surgery, but as the day progressed the plan changed. Because part of my ACL is still intact, we will stay in Europe and rehab as much as possible with the hopes that I may be able to race on the 22nd in the Olympic Games in Turin.

“I know it is a long shot, but the fighter in me can’t let go. Hope is a very powerful thing.”

The women’s slalom is set for Wednesday, Feb. 22 in Sestriere, and Koznick wrote in her e-mail that there is “a small chance” that she will be able race. She’s now on crutches and being fitted for a brace, and stated she’d only walk at the Opening Ceremony if she’s off her crutches.

She missed the 1994 Olympics after tearing a knee ligament and missed part of the 1995-96 World Cup season because of frostbite.

The 30-year-old Koznick was planning on making this her final World Cup season, and she had two fourth-place finishes in recent slaloms.

She could be the second U.S. Ski Team member to miss the Feb. 10-26 Games because of a knee injury that came during World Cup training. Caroline Lalive, who also was aiming to make her third Olympic appearance, was hurt last month in downhill practice at Cortina d’Ampezzo when she landed awkwardly after a jump.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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