February 9, 2006
TURIN, Italy (AP by Fred Goodall)—Kristina Koznick sounded a lot more hopeful than she looked. The top-ranked U.S. women's slalom skier hobbled into a news conference on crutches Thursday night, sat with her injured right knee elevated on a chair and vowed to do everything she can to give herself a chance to compete in the Turin Games.
"I really thought it was going to be a tough decision, knowing if I should race or not. But the more I've been able to feel the situation out, I think it's going to be cut and dried, Koznick said.
Although the Olympics start Friday, Koznick has time to rebound from her ill-timed injury. The women's slalom is scheduled for Feb. 22.
She has plenty of motivation.
"I want to race for a gold medal. This is my third Olympic Games and I've come up without anything so far. ... If I'm all there and I can put 100 percent into it, then I definitely will race.
Koznick partially tore ligaments in her knee last weekend while warming up for a World Cup race in Germany.
And while she and doctors are hopeful of a speedy recovery, Koznick said she will not hesitate to step aside for a teammate if she's not ready to compete in the slalom.
"If I can't, it will be a really frustrating moment. But I guess that's where the veteran in me is supposed to come out, she said.
Kolznick missed what would have been her first Olympics because of a knee injury in 1994. She competed in the past two Winter Games, failing to finish the slalom both times and finishing 17th in the giant slalom in 2002.[pagebreak]Before the injury, Koznick had decided these Games would end her career. Now, she's rethinking retirement.
"I'd be lying if I didn't say I don't want to end my career like this, she said.
The U.S. ski team doctor gave Koznick an encouraging report earlier Thursday, and Koznick she'll take it day by day.
"I can walk with no pain, but I do have some bruising and it's important to stay off it as long as I can, so that it heals, she said. "I think it's going to be a fine line between pushing it and making sure I'm ready and pushing too far and having it backfire.
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press