Swiss ski team keeps Albrecht in mind
Before racing, Daniel Albrecht’s teammates are updated on his medical condition.VAL D'ISERE - Daniel Albrecht is never far from the thoughts of his Swiss ski teammates.
Albrecht was spending his 12th day in an induced coma Tuesday in Innsbruck, Austria, after sustaining lung and brain injuries in a downhill training crash at Kitzbuehel.
His teammates competing at the World Championships begin each day by getting the latest medical bulletin on Albrecht's condition.
"Very early I get the information from the hospital", Martin Rufener, head coach to the Swiss men's team, told The Associated Press. "I give that right away to the boys.
"We know that, luckily, everything goes fine and Danny's stable. Then they can put it away and concentrate on focusing on their own thing".
Though Albrecht is recovering well, he still requires a ventilator to aid his breathing and is being treated for lung infections.
"You imagine that this is another 10 days, even longer", said Rufener, adding that Albrecht would next be moved to a specialist unit in the Swiss capital, Bern.
Rufener said the Swiss racers and coaches decided to talk openly among themselves about Albrecht, who would be defending his super-combined title in Val d'Isere.
"Almost every day it hits you a little bit", he said. "You have to go through certain moments for yourself, when you prepare yourself to get going in the morning".
Albrecht's usual roommate, 22-year-old Carlo Janka, is most affected.
"I think he had a little bit more time which he goes back into it and thinks about that", Rufener said. "The situation is different from athlete to athlete".
Janka is a contender for the Swiss men's first medal of the championships on Wednesday.
He won a giant slalom on the steep Face de Bellevarde slope in December 2008 for his first World Cup victory. His second soon followed in a super-combined title at Wengen, Switzerland.
"Carlo grew up big time in a short time this year", Rufener said. "He shows a lot of natural talent handling that".
The other three Swiss lining up in super-G, Didier Cuche, Didier Defago and Ambrosi Hoffman, are all placed in the top eight of the World Cup discipline standings behind Hermann Maier of Austria.
Rufener, an experienced former coach of the United States and Canada teams, believes 34-year-old Cuche is ready to overcome his relatively poor season of results.
"I have a good feeling that maybe he is the one who makes the medal right from the beginning", he said. "He is focused so much. Mentally and physically he is ready".
[AP / Graham Dunbar / Expatica]