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Sochi 2014: Injured moguls freestyler Heidi Kloser marches in opening

She takes part in opening ceremony on crutches a day after breaking her leg and tearing knee ligaments in a crash in a training run, ending her Olympic dream.

February 07, 2014|From staff reports
  • Heidi Kloser walks with crutches as she parades with her delegation during the ppening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics on Friday at Fisht Olympic Stadium.
Heidi Kloser walks with crutches as she parades with her delegation during… (Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty…)

Moguls freestyler Heidi Kloser wasn't about to let a broken leg and torn knee ligaments stop her from marching in the opening ceremony at the Olympics.

That's how much the moment meant to the 21-year-old from Vail, Colo. She ended up marching in the parade, on crutches, no less, on Friday. She tweeted a picture of herself, beforehand in Olympic garb, saying: "Excited that I still get to walk!"

Just a day earlier, Kloser's Olympic dream came to an end as she crashed in a training run and had to pull out of the event not long before qualifying started.

Her father, Mike Kloser, wrote an emotional account of the experience on his Facebook page, shortly after the Klosers returned from the Olympic Village emergency room Thursday night.

"She was in a lot of pain when we got to see her in the medical room at the base of the course," he wrote. "They loaded her in an ambulance and took her up to the ER for X-rays and an MRI.

"Heidi was in good hands with Dr. [William] Sterett and several other U.S. team doctors. The news isn't good though. She has a partially torn MCL, completely torn ACL, an impact fracture on her femur, and an impact bruise on her tibia plateau.

"Heidi's doing OK, but there's moments when the reality of it all hits home. She's a tough one, but this is a tough one to swallow for all of us! When she was in the ambulance, she asked [her mother], Emily, and me if she was still an Olympian.... We said, 'Of course she is!'"

--Lisa Dillman

U.S. hockey team chief hurt in freak accident

In a freak accident, David Poile, the general manager of the U.S. men's Olympic hockey team and the NHL's Nashville Predators, took a puck to the face Thursday in St. Paul, Minn. The Predators issued a statement saying Poile had undergone two successful surgical procedures "in the nose and eye areas," and had received stitches to repair a facial cut. He is scheduled to remain in the hospital for further observation.

He reportedly will not accompany the team on its charter flight to Russia, which is scheduled to depart Sunday, but might travel to Sochi sometime next week.

Poile completed his main job of overseeing the team's selection, but he had planned to be in Sochi for the men's tournament, which begins Wednesday.

--Helene Elliott

More injuries

Injuries continue to deplete the field for the Sochi Olympics men's hockey tournament even before it starts.

Team Finland took a double hit on Friday when it lost forward Valtteri Filppula of the Tampa Bay Lightning to a broken ankle and forward Mikko Koivu of the Minnesota Wild to an ankle injury. Koivu had undergone ankle surgery Jan. 6 and has not been cleared to return.

"I'm not going to go to Olympic Games this year. I just don't feel healthy enough to feel that I can play at the level that I want," the two-time Olympian said during a news conference Friday in St. Paul, Minn.

Meanwhile, Canada has lost Steven Stamkos, who hasn't sufficiently recovered from a broken leg, and Sweden has lost Johan Franzen (concussion) and Henrik Sedin (ribs).

--Helene Elliott

Snowboard design controversy

The man behind the design of the snowboard of Russian Alexey Sobolev said the inspiration came from old EC horror comic books, not the feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot.

Clarity came from artist Brian Romero, who emerged on Instagram to say just that, citing the greatest hits of the genre, Tales of the Crypt, Vault of Horror and Weird Science, among others.

"But the viewer always brings their own baggage to the table," wrote Romero, who is the art director of the Los Angeles-based Baker Boys Distribution.

Sobolev competed in slopestyle qualifying Thursday morning at the Olympics and there were questions from Russian media about the snowboard, which featured a design of a knife-wielding woman wearing a ski mask.

It was suggested it could be an homage to Pussy Riot, the controversial Russian band that became the subject of worldwide attention after denouncing President Vladimir Putin and ending up in prison. Two members of the group were released in December.

--Lisa Dillman

Austrians' dilemma

One the toughest competitions in Alpine events is the Austrian "bake-off" for four downhill starting spots.

Unlike the World Cup, each country is only allowed four entries in Olympic events. That cranks up the pressure for the New York Yankees of Alpine, who are forced to leave off a skier who could have won a medal.

The Austrians, for example, have 10 racers ranked in the top 32 of the current World Cup downhill rankings.

Matthias Mayer and Max Franz had already locked up two spots, leaving five Austrians to compete for the last two spots in Friday's second downhill training run.

Klaus Kroell claimed one spot by finishing tied for third, while George Streitberger won the last spot.

Kroell said skiers understand what is at stake.

"It's OK, everybody knew it was coming up and we all know each other," Kroell said. "So it's not a problem."

--Chris Dufresne

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