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.
“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.
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.