Sweet comeback for Albrecht at Beaver Creek | VailDaily.com

Sweet comeback for Albrecht at Beaver Creek

BOP GS Albrecht 1 KA 12-05-10

BEAVER CREEK – Ski-racing fans would have been happy just to see Swiss skier Daniel Albrecht finish his first giant slalom run at Beaver Creek Sunday, so a top-30 finish was just icing on the cake.

Sunday’s giant slalom was Albrecht’s first race since a 2009 crash in Kitzbuhel, Austria left him in a coma for three weeks, suffering brain and lung injuries.

After leaving the hospital he told reporters he felt like he was a junior ski racer again because of what he had been through and looked forward to getting back into training and eventually back into racing.

He made it into the second run Sunday, finishing 21st overall. The moments at both of his finishes were emotional for Albrecht and many of the fans in the crowd who knew his story.

He fought back tears as he described what he’s been through since the 2009 crash.

“The accident was really extreme and I was so close to being dead, and the fact that I can be skiing again, that’s making me happy,” Albrecht said.

Albrecht’s comeback was more than he could have expected or hoped for, he said.

He said the feeling after his first run was “extremely good.” He figured he’d end up somewhere between 30th and 50th, but not in the top.

He was touched by the support from the crowd, especially since his first race back was in the United States.

“When I come to finish, we are in America and everyone was loud with me and that was really good,” Albrecht said.

U.S. Ski Team member Ted Ligety, who won Sunday’s giant slalom, said Albrecht did phenomenally for his first race back. He said he applauds him for coming back and getting points in his first race.

“It’s really a credit to him and what a great skier he is now, and how really good he was before,” Ligety said.

Albrecht said he’s a normal man again after so many long months of physical therapy and training. He feels like he can do everything he used to be able to do again, and now he can add ski racing to that list.

When asked about how he has remained so strong through his rehabilitation, he said it just takes a lot of work and a lot of luck.

“I had to work every day, extremely hard,” Albrecht said. “I told myself the first day, ‘OK, come back – do it, do it, do it. It’s a hard way, but I did it.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at lglendenning@vaildaily.com.

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