Cavagnoud fighting for life

Skiing: The World super-G champion, Regine Cavagnoud, is fighting for her life after crashing into the German team coach during training
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The Independent Online

The World super-G women's skiing champion, Regine Cavagnoud, underwent emergency surgery and was fighting for her life yesterday after suffering severe head and internal injuries in a crash during training in Austria.

The Frenchwoman needed to be resuscitated by her coach. Cavagnoud, who finished third in the giant slalom in Sölden on Saturday, collided into the German team coach, Markus Anwander, who was standing on the hill at the Pitz Valley glacier.

Both sustained severe head injuries, and Cavagnoud's coach gave her heart massage. The two were flown by helicopter to hospital in Innsbruck. Cavagnoud, 31 from La Clusaz, also suffered broken ribs, which injured her liver and lungs, as well as a broken arm and concussion. Last night she was in a coma following surgery.

"One can say her condition is life-threatening. She is very, very badly injured," a hospital spokesman said. Anwander was treated for a fractured skull and jaw injuries.

Cavagnoud's third place on Saturday was a surprise since she had just come back from concussion and ankle injuries suffered in training in August.

In Latvia, the bobsled driver Girts Ostenieks, a reserve for the national Olympic team, was killed while practising when he ploughed into an empty sled that had drifted into his path. The 33-year-old, travelling at 35mph on his skeleton (a small, brakeless sled) died instantly when a blade pierced his skull.

Officials said the second vehicle belonged to the Russian women's national team, who lost control of their sled, which slid on to the track and overturned.

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