FILE UNDER -- Alpine

Ivica Kostelic undergoes surgery, hopes to return in January

Ivica Kostelic undergoes surgery, hopes to return in January{mosimage}Croatian world champion Ivica Kostelic hopes to be back for the next World Cup slalom on January 3 after a successful knee cartilage operation on Tuesday.

Kostelic won the men’s slalom in Madonna di Campiglio on Monday but aggravated a right knee injury in the process, prompting initial fears he had suffered season-ending ligament damage.

“If things go as well as possible Ivica may race early in January in Flachau (Austria) in the next World Cup slalom. If the pain continues he may have to rest longer but we are optimistic,” said Vedran Pavlek, the Croatian team manager.

Pavlek said Kostelic had surgery at the clinic of Professor Christian Schenk in Schruns, Austria, on Tuesday evening. He added that Schenk told him the arthroscopy only lasted half an hour and he had removed a small piece of cartilage that was moving under the meniscus of Kostelic’s right knee.

“Apparently, Ivica injured himself a couple of weeks ago but it was only when he skied this slalom in Madonna that the piece of cartilage moved and blocked his meniscus,” Pavlek said. “There is some minor damage at the back of his meniscus but it is possible that the pain will disappear in a few weeks.”

Kostelic, 26, has had surgery on his right knee four times, most recently in February 2001.

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