Maier Has 14-Inch Rod Removed From Leg

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Maiers X Ray 1201

VIENNA, Austria Feb. 28, 2003 (AP)--Hermann Maier had a 14-inch rod removed from the leg he severely injured in a motorcycle accident and is expected to return to skiing in about four weeks.

The titanium rod that held Maier's calf bone together during healing following the August 2001 accident was removed Wednesday by Dr. Artur Trost.

"The operation was not easy, but everything went all right. Hermann is already cracking jokes again," Trost was quoted as saying by the Austria Press Agency.

Maier was close to having the leg amputated following the accident. Surgeons inserted screws and the rod to repair his tibia and grafted skin from his left upper arm on his right shin.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist is scheduled to begin rehabilitation at the Austrian Skiing Federation's Olympic training center next week.

"Ski training will be possible in about four weeks' time," said Trost, who operated on Maier immediately after the accident that shattered his right leg

Maier made a resounding comeback to the World Cup earlier this season, winning his third race and placing second in the Super G at the World Championships, but decided to end his season early and opt for the surgery.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press