American moguls skiier Heidi Kloser, touted as a legitimate medal contender, ripped up her knee on a crash during warm-ups, just minutes before she was to begin her qualification run. Her ACL is completely torn, and her first Olympic games are over before they began.
The fall looked innocuous, but Kloser couldn't get up and had to be pulled down the mountain on a stretcher. Her parents were there, and joined her in an ambulance for the ride to a hospital. Father Mike revealed on Facebook what Heidi said them:
When she was in the ambulance, she asked Emily and me if she was still an Olympian.... We said of course she is!
Kloser, 21, stood fourth in the World Cup standings entering these games, and second among U.S. skiers, behind presumptive gold medal favorite Hannah Kearney. Depite Kloser's hopes that the injury was minor and she might return for tomorrow's finals, the Vail native was treated by Tom Hackett, the U.S. Olympic Team's physician, who diagnosed a completely torn ACL, a partially torn MCL, and a fractured femur.
"She's in good hands right now," said her father, Mike Kloser. "But she's so sad."
Olympic sports are especially cruel. Yes, there are annual world championships, but at least in terms of international attention and acclaim, athletes get but once chance every four years to reach the sport's pinnacle. It's not an exaggeration to say Kloser's entire life was building to these games—and now, without even competing, she has to wait until 2018.
But, yes, she is an Olympian. She earned her way to Sochi as much as anyone else, bad luck and bad timing be damned. And, according to her father, she still hopes to walk with her teammates in today's opening ceremony.