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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland Feb. 11, 2003 (AP by Erica Bulman)–Hermann Maier will probably end his season early to have a titanium rod removed from the leg he almost lost. The Austrian star was expected to make a decision Friday.
“Maybe it’s better that he doesn’t race anymore this season,” Austrian Skiing Federation president Peter Schroecksnadel said. “For sure he will not be at the World Cup races in Asia.”
The decision rests with doctor Artur Trost, who operated on Maier immediately after the August 2001 motorcycle accident that shattered his right leg.
Maier was close to having the leg amputated. Surgeons inserted screws and a 14-inch titanium rod to repair his tibia and grafted skin from his left upper arm on his right shin.
The rod needs to be removed, and Maier might need four weeks to recuperate before he can resume light training.
Maier would prefer to have the operation now so he can benefit from a full training period this summer to prepare for next season’s World Cup campaign.
He would also like to test equipment later this spring.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time overall World Cup champion returned to competition nearly a month ago in a giant slalom in Adelboden, but failed to qualify for the second run.
After two weeks, however, he won the Super G in Kitzbuehel, then earned silver in the world championships Super G on Feb. 2 in St. Moritz. He was eighth in the downhill.
His selection for the downhill squad caused a commotion on the Austrian team, as Maier didn’t crack the top-five in the three downhills he raced before the worlds.
Maier was selected over Andreas Schifferer, the 1998 World Cup downhill champion, and the up-and-coming Klaus Kroell, who had been skiing consistently all season.
The next men’s races after the worlds are on Feb. 22-23 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press