Austrians Say Maier Might Bounce Back

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Vienna, Austria, Sep. 6, 2001 (AP by Roland Prinz)--Hermann Maier's health is improving after his serious motorcycle accident, and team officials expressed hope he might be able to compete at the Salt Lake City Olympics.

``The painkiller dose has been further reduced because of his good condition,'' said a bulletin released Wednesday by the Salzburg clinic where the World Cup skiing champion is in intensive care.

Doctors changed the dressing on his broken lower right leg and his upper arms Wednesday and described an ``unimpeded healing process.'' The bulletin also said that initial kidney problems were ``reduced to a minimum.''

Maier broke his right leg and damaged muscle tissue when he collided with a car and landed in a ditch last week.

Vincent Vermeulen, Maier's physical therapist, and Austrian Ski Federation officials indicated they were still hoping the ``Herminator'' might compete in February's Olympics. ``I don't want to rule out Hermann's Olympic start 100 percent,'' Vermeulen was quoted as saying in the Vienna daily Kurier. ``He is highly motivated and has a positive attitude.''

Hermann Pum, the alpine skiing director of the federation, was also optimistic. ``He is a fighter, we all know that,'' Pum said.