Fogdoe suffers spinal injury

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The Independent Online
Thomas Fogdoe, the Swedish slalom skier, will be out for the season and may have sustained permanent back damage after crashing into trees during a "race" with his coach and another skier. Fogdoe, 24, underwent four hours of surgery, until early yesterday, following the accident on Tuesday at the downhill course in Aare, about 440 miles north-west of Stockholm.

"It is a serious back injury," Goran Skog, the national team physician, said in Stockholm. "It is too early to say if the injury will be permanent," Skog said. "But he is definitely out for this season."

Skog said the damage was as if "verterbrae had been dislocated". Three surgeons operated on Fogdoe to reduce the pressure on the spine and stabilise the vertebrae.

Fogdoe's injury occurred when he was skiing to a training session in Aare. The Swedish slalom star then was flown by helicopter to the Umea University Clinic's emergency ward, about 190 miles.

An eyewitness said Fogdoe was racing with two other skiers - including the team coach Ulf Emilsson - when the accident occurred. "They were racing at high speed without ski poles," the 24-year-old witness said. "It looked very careless."

The three skiers raced across a ski slope and headed toward a wooded area next to the slope. "The last one hit something and flew into the forest. Shortly after that I heard three incredibly loud screams," the witness said.

Fogdoe, a slalom specialist, was fifth in his discipline in the 1991 World Championships and in the Olympic Games in 1992. He has five World Cup victories, and won the slalom title in 1993.

Aare, where his accident occurred, is the ski resort next to Oestersund, now among the final four candidates to host the 2002 Winter Olympics. International Olympic Committee officials are scheduled to make their first visit there next week.

Later this month, the resort will be the site for women's downhill and giant slalom World Cup competitions.