Disaster struck Jackie Wiles in a split second.
The veteran U.S. Alpine skier skidded out of bounds Saturday during the downhill at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, the final World Cup stop before the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Wiles regained control for an instant, then flipped onto her back and cartwheeled down the slope in a cloud of snow before coming to rest in the safety netting.
The Olympics ended for Wiles before they even started.
The Portland, Ore., native tore her left anterior cruciate ligament and fractured her left fibula and tibia, according to multiple reports.
Screams were audible in the television broadcast of the race. A sled eventually was used to remove Wiles from the course.
Lindsey Vonn, whose foundation financially supports Wiles, won the downhill by two-hundredths of a second for her 80th career World Cup victory.
“We’re just all hoping Jackie is OK,” Vonn told reporters.
Wiles, 25, is the third U.S. Alpine skier to suffer a serious injury in recent weeks. Travis Ganong, the only U.S. man to win a World Cup Alpine event in the last two years, tore his right ACL on Dec. 28. Fellow speed specialist Steven Nyman, expected to make his fourth Olympic team, tore his right ACL last month.
Laurenne Ross, returning from a severe knee injury last year, also crashed Saturday at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, but managed to escape serious injury and skied through the finish under her own power.
Wiles, who competed in the Sochi Olympics, battled pain in her left knee in recent months because of a small tear in the patella tendon and severe tendinitis. But she appeared to have overcome the injury, finishing third in the downhill last month in Cortina, Italy.
Vonn, sidelined for the Sochi Olympics by a string of injuries, won that race, too.
Wiles’ U.S. Ski Team biography notes that she’s “constantly pushing everyone else with her natural talent and fearless ability to ski fast.”
In a blog entry a few days ago, Wiles couldn’t hide her enthusiasm for Pyeongchang.
“I can’t wait to make incredible memories with my teammates & walk in the Parade of Nations, proudly representing our United States of America!!” Wiles wrote.
Decision still pending on Russian athletes
In a last-minute move, Olympic officials are reconsidering cases against 15 of the 28 Russian team members that had previously been banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The announcement followed last week’s decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which overturned the lifetime suspensions.
The International Olympic Committee has insisted that, regardless of the court decision, it still has the right to invite – or not invite – athletes to the Games. But officials have now agreed to send 15 cases back to a review panel.
That number relates to 13 athletes and 2 former athletes who would attend as coaches, the IOC said. The remainder of the 28 are no longer competing.
Russia is banned from the Olympics as a nation following investigations that found systemic cheating among athletes, coaches and officials. A Russian lab was also found to have tampered with samples to keep athletes from its country from testing positive.
Individual athletes have been given an opportunity to join a neutral “Olympic Athlete from Russia” squad if they can prove they have not doped in the past.
So far, the IOC has invited 169 Russians to compete as OARs in Pyeongchang.