KITZBUEHEL, Austria - Swiss skier Daniel Albrecht sustained brain and lung injuries and was placed in an induced coma Thursday after crashing in downhill training on the legendary Streif course.
Albrecht, the fifth racer on the course, lost control after flying through the air for about 40 metres, landed on his back and came to a stop near the finish line.
He lost consciousness and received medical attention for about 20 minutes before being taken by helicopter to a hospital in nearby St. Johann.
Helmuth Obermoser, the official race doctor, said in a brief statement that Albrecht had bleeding on the brain and a lung contusion.
"Daniel is in a stable condition now. He woke up briefly but doctors placed him in an artificial coma," Swiss team spokeswomen Diana Faeh said.
Albrecht was transported to a hospital in Innsbruck where he was to be kept in a coma for at least another 24 hours to keep brain pressure under control, clinic spokesman Johannes Schwamberger said.
Schwamberger confirmed that Albrecht was stable, but said further details wouldn't be provided until a news conference Friday afternoon.
An induced coma puts the brain in hibernation so it can recuperate and allows swelling in the brain to ease.
The 25-year-old Albrecht is the reigning super-combined world champion and has four career World Cup victories - three in giant slalom and one in super-combi. He has two GS wins this season, at Soelden, Austria, and Alta Badia, Italy, and is eighth in the overall World Cup standings.
The crash was similar to that of Scott Macartney last year on the Streif. The American suffered a brain contusion after slamming his head on the snow and was out for the season.
Organizers lowered the final jump of the course after Macartney's crash and clearly marked the natural wave so racers would be able to better time their jump.
"We've done everything that we reasonably could do to make it a safe course," FIS race director Guenther Hujara said. "This was the best solution and was approved by most of the racers.
"The only way to avoid crashes is not to do a downhill race at all," Hujara said. "We just can't avoid all crashes. This was out of our hands."
Swiss teammate Didier Cuche said it was "a very bad crash."
"Daniel was having a great run but was forced into a backward position too much at the jump," Cuche said. "I hope he'll be well again soon."
In Wednesday's first training session ahead of this weekend's Hahnenkamm races, Austria's Michael Walchhofer almost fell backward at the same point where Albrecht crashed.
"The wind pushed the front of my skis up so I was lifted in the air," Walchhofer said. "That was quite extreme, I totally underestimated that jump."
Thursday's training session was interrupted for half an hour before resuming. Bode Miller posted the fastest time as he raced down the Streif course in one minute 55.95 seconds to beat last year's winner Cuche by 0.26 seconds.
Top Canadian was Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant, Que., in 19th in 1:59.16.
The downhill race is scheduled for Saturday.
Once again we wish him a quick and complete recovery