Saturday, May 02, 2009

Daniel Albrecht Finally Leaves Hospital - At The End of April


Jeebus! Swiss Super-Kombined World Champion Daniel Albrecht finally left the hospital THIS WEEK, after being severely injured in a crash during the Hannenkamm-Rennen in Kitzb├╝hel in January.

I saw it from the zeitmessungraum in the KSC Zielhaus (about 200m away), and it wasn't pretty. Almost identical to Scott Macartney's crash the year before.

The thing the strikes me about Albrecht's crash is that while Macartney is a very good ski racer, the American has a history of bad crashes on sections involving big air; Albrecht, on the other hand, is a GREAT skier, a World Champion, a perennial threat to win any speed race on the World Cup.

Both guys simply made a mistake. It happens.

Both crashes have made our RADAR TV graphic speedo famous across the ski world, as YouTube has had millions of hits on the various videos. Our RADAR data will also be used in analyses of the crash by various safety committees.

Abrecht peaked out at 138.2 KmH coming into the Zielkompression. Weather, visibility, and course prep were perfect. Note our little speedbug above the clock.

He had plenty of time to react if he felt he was off-balance going into the Zielsprung.

Goes into the jump clean.

Gets lift up under his chest and starts to come apart in the air.

At this point, he's got to know he's in serious trouble.

As with American Chad Fleischer's almost-identical crash about ten years ago, Albrecht's skis vaporized into cloth from the force of the hit.

He slid a good 200 meters on his face before coming to a stop.

The Austrian on-mountain rescue team was on Albrecht in around 10-15 seconds.

This chopper, which is HQd year-round on a pad across the street from the Kitzb├╝helerhorn gondola (across the valley from the Streif racecourse), normally is on 24-hr reserve to help out with road car accidents. During the HKR, it is relocated to a pad less than 300m from the finish line, with a pilot in the hot seat at all times.

After watching these rescue guys in action for three HKRs now, I am more in awe of them than I am of the athletes who actually ski in the race. They are extraordinarily skilled at a very tough and dangerous job.

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