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Lanzinger sets sights on Sochi

A former World Cup skiing ace who lost his lower leg in a horrific accident will compete in races for physically disabled athletes, it has emerged.

Matthias Lanzinger announced he decided to participate in events in Europe from next month on to get in shape for the next Paralympics which are set to take place in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

"I dreamed of winning an Olympic medal as a young boy. This vision was interrupted on 2 March 2008," the 30-year-old from Abtenau, Salzburg, said in Vienna yesterday (Weds). Lanzinger’s lower left leg had to be amputated after he had crashed in a World Cup Super-G in Kvitfjell, Norway, on that day. The legal wrangle over whether poor organisation of medical services and long delays before his transfer to hospital by helicopter were to blame for the consequence are ongoing.

Lanzinger started working as a television commentator and newspaper columnist around half a year after the accident. He said yesterday he decided to try himself in competitive skiing after feeling the passion and desire for the sport again.

Also yesterday, Benjamin Raich revealed he would return to the World Cup this weekend. The 33-year-old from Tyrol – Austria’s most successful skier of the past few years – suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in last February’s World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, Germany. Raich – who won two gold medals in the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, in 2006 – said he decided to participate in the giant slalom in Sölden, Tyrol, this Sunday (23 October), the first race of the 2011/2012 World Cup season.

Speaking about how he prepared for his comeback, Raich told the Oberösterreichische Nachrichten newspaper: "I took my time. I thought I'd rather wait one month than start one day too early (with rehab programmes). I never planned to get back on skis as fast as possible. (...) I tried to do all exercises very precisely."

Fans of the sport put great hopes in Marcel Hirscher as Raich is expected to need some time to achieve top results. Hirscher – a slalom and giant slalom expert – has the potential to win trophies this season, according to experts. The 22-year-old from Salzburg has won three races since his World Cup debut in 2007.

Elisabeth Görgl, Nicole Hosp and Marlies Schild are considered as Austria’s most promising contenders in the upcoming Women’s World Cup races. A giant slalom will be the first event of the season (Sölden, 22 October).

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