February 19, 2006
SESTRIERE, Italy (USST Press Release)—Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN) was optimistic Sunday about her chances to be competitive in Wednesday's Olympic slalom. Koznick, who injured a knee theweekend before Opening Ceremonies, is training in a knee brace and says she is ready to race the slalom, but will opt out of next Friday's giant slalom.
"Things have actually been going really, really well," said Koznick. "I've had three days on snow and yesterday I actually skied some slalom gates. It's going great, as great as can be expected. But we sat down as a group and determined that our focus needed to should be on the slalom (Wednesday) and as of last night I actually withdrew myself from giant slalom and we'll just focus on getting ready for the slalom on Wednesday."
Koznick was back on skis Thursday and Friday freeskiing, and ran slalom gates Saturday. She was on crutches until Saturday to limit weight on the knee. For rehab she is spinning on a stationary bike and doing specific exercises including squats.
"Yesterday was my first day on gates and I definitely need a few more days of training," she said. "We're taking baby steps but every day we're taking steps in the right direction. We set goals for every day and if we keep meeting them, I'll definitely be ready for Wednesday."
Koznick feels she can be competitive in Wednesday's slalom. "It will be a different type of 100%," she said. "I know that mentally I'm definitely strong enough to handle this. I know it's about buttoning down and giving it everything I have. That's one of the reasons we've decided to not ski the giant slalom. I'm pretty positive my knee is going to be really sore after Wednesday. I know that if I am going for a medal, I have to give it 100% I'm more optimistic now than I was a week ago."[pagebreak]The freak accident occured during warmup for the first run of a giant slalom in Ofterschwang, Germany on Saturday, Feb. 4. Koznick inadvertently skied off a dropoff that the ski area had created near a surface lift and dropped seven or eight feet.
Koznick comes into the Games as one of many American medal contenders. "We come in as such a strong team this year and we're expected to bring home medals, and it's been a long time since we've been been expected to bring home medals and that's a whole different light," said Koznick.
"This team is phenomenal and they're so strong. Everybody here could win a medal and that says a lot for the U.S. team. I know everyone is frustrated wtih the results, but we still have a lot of events left and we just have to keep pushing through."
The USA will go with Koznick in the slalom along with Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO), Resi Stiegler (Jackson, WY) and Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO). The giant slalom lineup will include Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA), Kildow, Schleper and Stacey Cook (Tahoe City, CA). Cook, who has scored World Cup points in giant slalom this year, will be the addition in GS.