Breezy Johnson will miss the Olympics with a knee injury

American ski racer Breezy Johnson, one of the main contenders for a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics next month in the women’s downhil...


American ski racer Breezy Johnson, one of the main contenders for a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics next month in the women’s downhill, said on Monday she would not compete at the Games due to a tear right knee cartilage she suffered in the second of two high-speed training crashes this month.

Saying she was heartbroken, Johnson admitted she considered trying to run despite the condition of her injured knee. “But the doctors told me I could do a lot more damage,” Johnson said in a phone interview from Germany. “I could waste all of next season, or beyond, for one race – and I don’t even know how well I could ski this race.

“I didn’t want to just hobble to the finish line.”

Johnson, who has finished second in the last three World Cup downhill races she has entered, has had the best season of her career and looked to be on top after several impressive results late last season.

But a training accident on Jan. 8 left Johnson, 26, with a cut and swollen right knee. She rested and missed two races, then returned to training last week, posting one of the fastest training times ahead of a World Cup downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. But on the second day of downhill training in Italy, Johnson had a shocking, awkward landing from a jump and fell from the racecourse into the protective net enveloping the track.

“I felt a crack in my knee and thought I had shattered my meniscus into 400,000 pieces,” Johnson said. After magnetic resonance imaging of the joint, Johnson said doctors told him “a big chunk of cartilage had come off the bone.”

She expects to undergo surgery after returning to the United States and hoped to be able to return to racing next season.

With Johnson’s exit, the path to Olympic women’s downhill gold is wide open. Italian Sofia Goggia, the reigning Olympic champion in the event who holds a huge lead in the World Cup downhill standings this year, fell to the snow in a perilous fall during a super race -G on Sunday and may also be too injured to compete. In Beijing.

The Italian ski team said Goggia sprained his left knee, partially tore a ligament in his knee and suffered a “minor fracture” of his fibula bone. There was also tendon damage, although Goggia promised to immediately begin physical therapy for his injuries in hopes of defending his title in Beijing on February 15.

“I have sympathy for Sofia, she’s been skiing amazing for two years now,” Johnson said. “I can’t imagine what she’s going through.”

Johnson added that Goggia’s possible departure from the Olympics has left her wondering if she should rethink her plans not to ski in Beijing.

“You kind of think, I don’t know, did I make the right decision?” she said.

She again consulted with her doctors, asking if the inherent risk was the possibility that she could crash again. What if she rehabilitated her right knee, found a way to ski efficiently enough, and stayed upright? But Johnson was told that just skiing at 80 miles per hour, a typical downhill speed, could be very harmful to his knee.

“So I was like, I just can’t do this,” Johnson, who finished seventh in the downhill at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, said Monday.

The recovery Johnson will face will not be his first comeback from a serious injury. She had to recover from a tibial plateau fracture to compete for the US Ski Team in Pyeongchang. Seven months after those Olympics, she ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in training and missed the entire World Cup season. In June 2019, she tore two ligaments in her left knee.

Now facing another reconstructive knee surgery, Johnson said she was motivated to make another comeback because so many other top runners had done it and continued to record their greatest achievements. As an example, she mentioned Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who had his anterior cruciate ligament reconstructed last year after a crash in training and is having a dominant season this winter.

“You see that and we’re all optimistic, we’re all hoping this injury is the last,” Johnson said. “You go through times where it breaks your heart and crushes you because the sport will never love you back. It is not possible because it is a sport. But you like it so much that you do it anyway.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Breezy Johnson will miss the Olympics with a knee injury
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