Vail moguls skier out of Olympics with broken leg | VailDaily.com

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Vail moguls skier out of Olympics with broken leg

LOCALS HEARTBROKEN TO HEAR NEWS OF KLOSER INJURY

Heidi Kloser is out of the Olympics with a partially torn MCL, completely torn ACL, an impact fracture on her femur and a impact bruise on her tibia plateau,

For locals pulling for her here in Vail, the news hit pretty hard.

“It’s heartbreaking, just heartbreaking to see,” said Brian Baker, Kloser’s coach throughout middle school and high school.

“Heidi’s doing OK, but there’s moments when the reality of it all hits home,” her father, Mike Kloser, posted on Facebook. “She’s a tough one, but this is a tough one to swallow for all of us!”

Watching from Russia, Heidi’s mother — Emily Kloser — said it was awful to watch.

“So glad we are here with her but it is so hard on all of us as we know how hard she has worked,” Emily Kloser posted on Facebook.

“I feel terrible for her,” said Baker. “But she’ll get through it and there’s no question she’ll be back.”

Baker said he first started working with Kloser when she was 8 years old, and said he could tell “immediately” that she had something special.

“As the years progressed, it became very clear that she was going to go as far as she wanted,” Baker said.

Kloser also competed in endurance sports; local professional triathlete John O’Neill ran cross country with her in high school.

O’Neill said her focus then was moguls, and for as long as he knew her it always was.

“She worked so hard to get there,” O’Neill said. “It’s just terrible news.”

Local professional freeskier Taylor Seaton competed alongside Kloser as a child in freestyle.

“Such a bummer to hear about Heidi, she was skiing real well this season,” said Seaton.

A halfpipe skier who made a run at the Olympics himself this season, Seaton knows the ups and downs of injury.

“Injuries can happen at the worst times,” he said. “She’s young and will come back stronger, I’m sure.”

With this Olympics now ending in frustration for Kloser, at just 21-years old, she still has plenty of time to achieve her dreams at the Games. Kloser’s teammates seem to be reaching their peak in their late 20s, with Hannah Kearney, 27, currently leading the Olympic charge after winning qualifying on Thursday. Other U.S. Olympians Eliza Outtrim, 28, and Heather McPhie, 29, both hit the World Cup podium several times last season, with McPhie winning three times.

“[Kloser] has another two, maybe even three Olympics in front of her,” Baker said. “She can compete until she’s 32, 33 years old.”

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Vail’s Heidi Kloser had to pull out of the Olympics after injuring her right leg during a training run before moguls qualifying.

Kloser tore knee ligaments and broke her femur following a crash Thursday night, only moments before she was supposed to head to the starting gate.

Kloser’s father, Mike, posting on his Facebook page, said Heidi asked him if he still considered her an Olympian even though she didn’t make it to the starting line in her first games.

“We said, of course she is,” Mike Kloser wrote.

The 21-year-old Kloser was fourth in the World Cup standings coming into the Olympics.

‘Oh, No’

“I saw an American coach quickly put his skis on and rush down and I thought, ‘Oh, no, that’s Heidi,’” said reigning world champion and defending Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearney, of Vermont.

Kearney, who qualified first among the 30 women mogul skiers, was told by U.S. coaches that Kloser had injured her knee.

‘In Good Hands’

An hour later, Kloser, a 21-year-old first-time Olympian, was getting an MRI and being taken care of by Dr. Tom Hackett, the U.S. Olympic Team’s physician and a renowned orthopedic surgeon from Vail’s Steadman Clinic.

“She’s in good hands right now,” said her father. “But she’s so sad.”

The Kloser clan was gathered at the bottom of the course watching training when Heidi Kloser tumbled. Mike Kloser said the fall — just a couple bumps down from the first jump — did not appear especially traumatic or major.

“It looked like she caught an edge or something. I thought, ‘Oh, good, let her get it out of the way now,’” he said.

Comforting Presence

But then she didn’t get up. He had to fight with strict security to reach his daughter as medics hauled her off the course.

“We just wanted to comfort her a little bit,” he said.

Mike Kloser said his daughter was very excited to compete in the Winter Olympics. She had drawn the first position for the qualifying contest, meaning she would be the first to ski on the course before it was churned by more skis, which can slow skiers.

Skiing At Her Best

She was considered a favorite to medal, especially after her second-place finish in the Lake Placid World Cup last month. She was coming into the Olympics skiing as strong as she ever had.

Although her chances for competing in Saturday’s Olympic finals are very slim, Mike said his daughter hopes to walk in the opening ceremony on Friday.

“That’s the goal right now,” he said.

Contact Jason Blevins at 303-954-1374, jblevins@denver post.com or twitter.com/jasontblevins.