Hermann Maier Nearly Severs Leg


Salzburg, Austria, Aug. 27, 2001 (AP)--Olympic and World Cup champion skier Hermann Maier's condition was improved Sunday, one day after seven hours of surgery to repair his broken right leg.

Doctors treating Maier said the danger of an amputation of the Austrian skier's leg appears to have been averted.

``Hermann Maier is in a much better condition than he was Saturday,'' Dr. Alois Karlbauer told the Austria Press Agency (APA).

Karlbauer also said that the kidney problems that arose after seven hours of surgery were under control.

Maier broke his right leg when he collided with a car that turned in front of him Friday and landed in a ditch. Details of the accident were being investigated.

The Austrian skier was flown from the ski resort of Radstadt to a hospital in Salzburg.

Maier also had cuts and muscle tissue damage, and lost two teeth in the accident.

Doctors put Maier's broken bones back into position and secured them with pins. Paint chips found inside the wound and bone raised concerns that the leg might become infected.

However, doctors said Maier was recovering and doubted there will be a need for amputation.

``He has seen for himself that his leg is still there and that he can move his toes,'' surgeon Arthur Trost told the APA.

Trost said Maier was shocked after his leg was wedged by the motorcycle and almost squeezed off at impact.

``He really panicked,'' Trost said.

On Saturday, doctors said it was unclear whether the reigning World Cup champion will be able to ski again.

According to APA, Trost also said Maier never mentioned skiing, he only talked about whether he would be able to walk again.

Maier, who won the World Cup last season and in the 1997-98, was in top form before the accident. He was scheduled to defend his gold medals in the super-G and giant slalom in the upcoming Olympics.

Nicknamed the ``Herminator,'' Maier tied Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark's single-season record of 13 World Cup wins at Are, Sweden, in March.

Maier dominated the final week of the season, winning four of his last five starts in Norway and Sweden.

With 41 wins, Maier moved past Pirmin Zurbriggen of Switzerland and is fourth on the World Cup list headed by Stenmark with 86 wins (46 GS, 40 slaloms).