German medal prospect Neureuther in car crash
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Alpine skier Felix Neureuther of Germany, one of medal favorites, suffered whiplash in a car crash on Friday and has been forced to delay his departure for the Sochi Olympics by a day.
“Thank God, it wasn’t that bad, I feel well under the circumstances,” Neureuther told reporters in Munich. “I should be able to race. I am flying to Sochi on Saturday.”
Neureuther was driving to the Munich airport early Friday when he hit a patch of ice, lost control and hit the barrier, but was able to drive on, according to his father, Christian Neureuther, a three-time Olympian skier himself.
Instead of flying to Sochi, Neureuther went to see a doctor in Munich, who determined he’d suffered whiplash but no bone injuries, according to the federation.
His girlfriend, biathlon star Miriam Goessner, who was in the car, told German media she called the police in Neureuther’s native Garmisch-Partenkirchen to report the accident. Goessner is not competing in Sochi because of a back injury.
The Munich prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation into whether Neureuther had fled the scene of an accident and to determine how much time had elapsed between the accident and the call to the police. The skier was free to travel.
Police said there was minor damage to the guardrail and that small car particles were found at the scene of the accident.
Neureuther is an expected medal contender in Wednesday’s Olympic giant slalom, and in the slalom race that closes the Alpine program next weekend. He won World Cup races in both events last month.
Germany’s chief Alpine coach Wolfgang Maier said the team was “relatively optimistic” that Neureuther would be able to race as scheduled.
The slalom favorite, Marcel Hirscher of Austria, sent a message of support on his Twitter account to his friend and rival.
“FelixNeureuther what are you doing!? Get well soon buddy! I’ll keep my #fingerscrossed, alle the best and #cuinsochi,” Hirscher wrote.
Neureuther aims to follow his mother, Rosi Mittermaier, as an Olympic medalist.
Mittermaier won gold in downhill and slalom, and silver in giant slalom, at the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics.