World Cup champ Fenninger likely out for season with knee injury

SOELDEN, Austria — Two-time overall champion Anna Fenninger is

likely to miss the entire World Cup season after seriously damaging her

right knee during a training crash Wednesday, three days before the

Alpine skiing circuit starts.

The Austrian skier was set to undergo

surgery later Wednesday after tearing ligaments in a fall during a giant

slalom run. The 26-year-old Fenninger was transported by helicopter to a

clinic in nearby Innsbruck after the incident.

"Anna has seriously damaged ligaments in

the right knee, which requires surgery," Austrian team doctor Christian

Hoser said. "She’s got a tear of the medial collateral and of the

cruciate ligament. Also, she has torn the patellar tendon in the right

knee, which also needs surgery."

It was not immediately clear how long

Fenninger will be sidelined for, but athletes often need more than six

months to recover from torn knee ligaments.

"It’s a tough injury," Fenninger’s

personal coach, Meinhard Tatschl, told the Austria Press Agency. "We’ll

have to wait until after the operation to make a prognosis."

Tatschl said the crash initially looked harmless.

"It was a normal training run, the

course was perfect, not bumpy," the coach said. "It was an unlucky

crash, nothing unusual. This kind of crashes happens all the time. She

slipped away on the inner ski. Her knee hurt a bit … but only later

the pain increased."

Fenninger, who is the GS world champion,

won the season-opening giant slalom last year, sharing victory with

Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States. She went on the win her second

straight overall title, coming from behind to beat closest rival Tina

Maze of Slovenia. Maze has taken a break from racing and won’t compete

this season.

The injury comes after a turbulent

off-season preparation time for Fenninger, who struggled with another

knee injury and off-piste troubles.

The patella, which connects knee cap

and tibia, has been causing her problems for years. The pain forced her

to quit a practice session as a precautionary measure last month. She

missed several weeks of training on snow but said last week on Austrian

TV she was ready to race the season-opener.

Fenninger’s preparations were also

disturbed as she quarreled for months with the Austrian ski federation

about her manager, Klaus Kaercher, and about her wish to have one of the

team physicians working exclusively for her. Fenninger quit a national

training camp in Cyprus in May, and even threatened to leave the

federation.

The conflict erupted when Fenninger

appeared in an advertising campaign for Mercedes, a rival brand of one

of the governing body’s main sponsors, Audi.

Mercedes later retracted the campaign and Fenninger parted ways with her manager.

Fenninger, who is the Olympic super-G

champion, has won four gold medals and eight in total at Olympics and

world championships. She has won 14 World Cup races.