Bank adds one more serious injury to his long list
Special to the Daily
BEAVER CREEK — After a horrendous crash in the downhill portion of Sunday’s combined race, Czech skier Ondrej Bank was taken to Vail Valley Medical Center with a gash on his face and a serious concussion. According to race organizers, Bank was conscious and moving en route to the hospital and was answering questions.
After an unbelievable 14-year-long litany of injuries and illness, the Czech veteran was in the midst of the best season of his World Cup career, having just landed a podium in the Kitzbuehel, Austria, combined race, only his second after a 2007 podium in the Beaver Creek combined event.
Before Sunday’s race, Bank rode up the chairlift with friend and teammate Martin Vrablik, with whom he shared some tips about skiing the downhill course. Bank finished seventh in Saturday’s downhill race.
“I think he was sure that he’d take the medal today,” Vrablik said of Bank, noting his teammate’s many comebacks following terrible injures. “In his head, (he) is unbelievably strong. After, I don’t know … four horrible accidents — he was always strong to get back and this season for him was amazing. He was absolutely focused on the best run here. He was happy and he was ready.”
Bank caught an edge after Harrier Jump and had just corrected when he lost a ski just before launching off of Redtail Jump. He landed, tumbled and slid across the finish line on his side, where he laid motionless for several minutes as ski patrol ran to his aid and course crew obscured him with a curtain.
Vrablik witnessed the crash and could not shake it from his memory before or after his own run down the course.
“It was quite terrible for me to start after this accident especially when I saw it with my own eyes,” Vrablik said. “Anyway, I was already a little scared of this downhill, Birds of Prey. For me, this is the most technical downhill. I’m glad to be here, for sure. I’m glad also that I’m healthy here but I couldn’t think about anything, just Ondrej. I wish the best recovery for him.”
‘HE IS WHOLE’
The small Czech team, which had just three men racing in Sunday’s race, had also received word that Bank had regained consciousness. On Bank’s Facebook page, his sponsor Team Vagus posted a photo of Bank in the hospital post-race with a bloodied face with the comment “Ondrej doesn’t have an ideal color but he is whole — he has hands, legs and a head. Ugh.” Bank’s brother and coach, Tomas Bank, posted that “Ondrej says hello and is OK.”
The Vail Valley Medical Center sent a statement confirming Bank’s concussion, face laceration and a leg contusion. He underwent a CT head scan, which was clear. The hospital and Czech team had not yet determined if Bank would stay overnight for observation.