Ski jumper Morgenstern eyes Olympics despite crash
KLAGENFURT, Austria (AP) Austrian ski jumper Thomas Morgenstern is still hoping to compete at the Sochi Olympics, less than two weeks after suffering skull and lung injuries in a ski flying crash.
''It's not about gold, silver or bronze. I want to go to the Olympics because they are something special,'' Morgenstern said on Thursday. ''I don't want to end my career with a crash.''
Morgenstern said he was working on his comeback ''step by step'' with the help of former world ski jump champion Heinz Kuttin. However, Morgenstern wasn't sure yet when and where he will make his first training jumps.
Doctors at a rehabilitation clinic where Morgenstern has been recovering said there was no medical reason for the three-time Olympic champion to avoid competing in Sochi.
''We did two MRTs and two scans of the skull,'' chief of clinic Georg Lajtai said. ''There is no indication of any aftermath of his injuries.''
Morgenstern lost balance and fell on his back and head during a training jump for a ski flying World Cup in Tauplitz on Jan. 10. He briefly lost consciousness but was responsive again shortly afterward, and received treatment in an emergency hospital until last Thursday.
The incident came less than four weeks after suffering bruises, face cuts and a broken finger in a crash at Titisee-Neustadt, Germany.
The Austrian ski jump team for Sochi will be named on Monday, and head coach Alexander Pointner has said he will leave a spot for Morgenstern ''open for as long as possible.''
According to the federation sport director, Ernst Vettori, the final decision is with Morgenstern himself.
''It depends on Thomas whether he'll start or not,'' said Vettori, a 1992 Olympic ski jump champion.
The individual competition on the normal hill in Sochi is scheduled for Feb. 8, with the large hill on Feb. 15 and the team event on Feb. 17. Morgenstern won Olympic gold in the individual and team events in 2006, and again in the team event four years later.
Morgenstern has won 23 individual World Cups, the overall title in 2008 and 2011, and the prestigious Four Hills title three years ago.