The "Herminator" Returns to the Slopes


Flachau, Austria Dec. 20, 2001 (AP)--Hermann Maier was given the go-ahead to ski Friday, his first time on the slopes since his motorcycle accident last summer.

Maier is scheduled to make a slow run down the Achterjet course in his home town of Flachau, site of this season's World Cup finals.

The 28-year-old tried cross-country skiing on Monday and Tuesday as an initial test. The exercise went well, and doctors have allowed him to take a shot at alpine skiing, said Maier's agent Knut Okresek.

``He'll be skiing down like a tourist on Alpine skis _ not Herminator-like,'' his agent, Knut Okresek, said Thursday. ``But it will be good for him. Everything should be OK.''

The two-time Olympic and world champion, who nearly lost a leg following his accident in August, will be skiing with a specially padded boot designed to protect his right shin, where skin was grafted from his left upper arm.

The boot is also designed to relieve pressure on the bone, which was broken where the ski boot begins. Surgeons inserted screws and a titanium rod to repair his tibia.

Maier knows the special ski boot is only a temporary solution.

``If I really want to ski as I used to, I need the same old aggressive material that I used to ski with before,'' Maier said last month.

Maier, who was also badly bruised around his pelvis, is also recovering from nerve damage in both his legs.

Maier's motorcycle was hit by a car in Radstadt, Austria, on Aug. 24, throwing him into a ditch. He underwent seven hours of surgery to repair his leg and doctors said he was close to kidney failure and having the leg amputated.

Maier's doctor, Johannes Zeibig, said he should know in mid-January whether his patient can compete at the Salt Lake City games.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press