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French skier Duvillard sustains multiple injuries during practice run

January 17, 1997

WENGEN, Switzerland (AP) _ French skier Adrien Duvillard sustained a serious head injury, a punctured lung and broken ribs when he crashed into a security fence during a World Cup downhill practice run Friday.

``It was a very serious accident but apparently he is not in danger of dying,″ said Didier Bonvin, coach of the French ski team. ``It was a terrible shock.″

Bonvin said Duvillard hit the fence while he was going more than 55 mph.

Because of possible complications from the head injury, Paul Guenther, chief doctor at Interlaken Hospital, had Duvillard flown to Bern’s main hospital for more tests and observation.

Bonvin said the fact that Duvillard could be moved was a good sign.

Duvillard lost control coming off the final jump of the Lauberhorn course and skidded across the finish area.

Bonvin said Duvillard was slightly off balance on the final jump. He tried to turn to stop, but caught his ski in a rut in the snow and catapulted into the fencing.

He lay motionless as a medical team worked for 30 minutes to stabilize his condition before airlifting him to the hospital.

Duvillard’s fall came in the same place where Austrian skier Gernot Reinstadler crashed and died six years ago after suffering massive internal injuries.

The Lauberhorn, the longest of the five classic downhill courses on the World Cup circuit, is one of the most difficult and tiring.

After training resumed, Chad Fleischer of Vail, Colo., crashed in exactly the same place as Duvillard.

The dazed Fleischer lay motionless for a few minutes as doctors attended to him. Fleischer then walked off the course on his own.

``I thought I was going to break my neck,″ said Fleischer, who was unaware of Duvillard’s accident when he leaped out of the start hut.

``You’re so tired when you get down here, and I tried to get good speed into the finish and I missed the last jump.″

Duvillard is the nephew of Henri Duvillard, who won six World Cup races between 1969 and 1973, including one at Wengen.

Duvillard was just coming back from two injury-plagued years.

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