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TORINO: Alpine: Koznick fitted for knee brace, says emotions are high

TORINO: Alpine: Koznick fitted for knee brace, says emotions are highAmerican slalom skier Kristina Koznick is being fitted for a knee brace this afternoon and trying to stay positive despite an injury to her right knee that might keep her out of the Olympic Winter Games.

‘It sucks. There’s no other way to put it’ Koznick said Wednesday afternoon. ‘I’ve tried not to talk to too many people besides my family and friends.’

Koznick said she is avoiding interviews so she can maintain her mental energy.

‘I get emotional and break down when I talk about it’ she said.

On Wednesday, Koznick was on her way to get fitted for a knee brace. On Thursday, she will meet with a U.S. Ski Team doctor who will examine MRIs of her knee. She plans to march in the Opening Ceremony even if that entails the use of crutches.

‘Right now as far as competing, we don’t know whether that’s going to happen or not’ said Koznick’s coach and companion Dan Stripp. ‘There is still an ACL attachment, so it’s not all gone. She has some bone bruising.’

Stripp said Koznick will be day-to-day this week on the question of whether she can compete or not. She will do rehab. ‘It sounds like it will be a team [decision] between Kristina and the doctor’ said Stripp. ‘If she feels like she can’t [race] she’s going to say I can’t do it.’

Last Saturday, she had finished a warm-up course for the Ofterschwang giant slalom when she skied off a seven-foot ledge onto a cat track. According to Stripp, it was like a pro jump with a flat landing. Several athletes skied off it and were hurting but fine, Koznick said.

The Minnesota skier, who races independently of the U.S. Ski Team, turned 30 years old at the start of this season and has said she’ll retire in the spring. She has been in the top 10 in four of the five World Cup slaloms she raced this year, and was fourth twice.

Ranked eighth in the World Cup standings, Koznick was possibly the U.S. team’s best chance at a medal in the Olympic slalom, scheduled for Feb. 22. She is seventh on the World Cup Start List, so she would be the only American woman starting in the first group in that discipline.

Koznick said she has been flooded with e-mails from well-wishers ever since the story broke. ‘Mostly everybody says they’re behind me’ she said. ‘It makes me feel better but it doesn’t patch the wound.’

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