Svindal still recovering from bruised leg |

Svindal still recovering from bruised leg

SOELDEN, Austria – Defending overall World Cup champion Aksel Lund Svindal bruised his leg in training and may not be in top form for the season opener on Sunday.

Svindal has a sore muscle near his left knee, but still plans to race. He injured the leg last weekend in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and flew to Germany for three days of tests.

“Hopefully it’s no problem. But it’s so close to the knee that I got a little worried,” Svindal said Friday. “It’s just one muscle (that) is sore. (There’s) no pain, but when you get the boot on and you go on the ice and it’s bumpy, there’s nowhere else you can get that much pressure.”

He won the giant slalom on the Rettenbach glacier in 2007. He’s not sure how fit he’ll be for the opener

“I still expect to be fast, but I couldn’t ski for the last week,” he said. “I won’t really know until I try it.”

Svindal clinched his second overall crown in the final race of last season, when Austrian rival Benjamin Raich straddled a gate in his first slalom run. He’s looking forward to defending his title against some stiff competition.

“I think it’s going to be a fight all the way to end like the last few years,” Svindal said. “I’ll say the same names I’ve said for the last four years. It’s hopefully myself, it’s Bode (Miller), it’s for sure (Didier) Cuche and Raich, and then there’s always a few guys you never really know about like (Jean-Baptiste) Grange, Ivica Kostelic – is he healthy? Is he going to be fast in combined, slalom and GS?

“And then there’s guys like Carlo Janka, who are amazing skiers and if they get a good start to the season they could take over. He’s already proved he can win races and he can ski all events.”

Janka finished seventh overall last season, won a gold medal in giant slalom at the world championships and took bronze in downhill in Val d’Isere, France.

Svindal trained for speed with the Canadian team in Chile over the summer, and worked with Cuche last week. He labeled his Swiss rival as the favorite heading into Sunday’s event.

“I really want to improve my GS. But we haven’t been so lucky with the conditions, so I haven’t been able to test the skis,” said Svindal, noting his injury got in the way. “That’s kind of what I wanted to do now.”

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