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Two Injury Returns

This is why I'm content to just speculate about ski racing.

    Two WAWC racers back on track after injury and rehab. Their physical tenacity and transcendent willpower astound me. Physical pain is a horrid aspect, of course, but can be suppressed (temporarily) and, hopefully, eventually goes away. It’s the rehabilitation effort, and overcoming the psychological hit to one’s confidence and career arc, then again skiing all-out, that most impress me.


    AFAICT, Alice Merryweather has beaten the toughest recent circumstances of any WAWC athlete. She was off competitive racing snow from March 2020 to early December of this year. Covid ended 2020 season early March; in late autumn, after rigorous summer training and her health steadily declining, Alice was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. Following hospitalization and a determined recovery, she rejoined the US team in fall 2022, and suffered a horrid, complex leg injury in DH training. Multiple surgeries followed. Please read this article.

Her IG is candid; occasionally gruesome. Check it out.

    Seems like serioius injuries often pile onto some racers, while other competitors are basically unscathed. Whatever reasons there are to explain it, bad luck hovers/lurks somewhere in the explanation. In one way or another every ski racer has avoided a serious fall(s) by a matter of centimeters.

    Alice has run two races so far this season. As did almost half the field, she DNFd at Val d’Isere SG. (Maybe the most bizarre ski race I’ve seen.) She ran a fine, if standard, St. Moritz DH for 32nd. ( doesn’t have the St. Moritz DH replay. WTH? I watched it live but wanted to see Alice’s run again.)

    I’d compiled Alice’s basic stats earlier, so here they are. She’s probably skied to the moon and back. (Io, Jupiter’s principal moon.)

World Cup

2018  DH 6 starts – 5xT40; DNF.  SG 6 starts – 24th; 4xT30+; DNF.

2019  DH 7 starts – 8th; 19th; 5xT30.  SG 5 starts – 29th; 3xT40; DNF.

2020 DH 8 starts – 3xT20; 3xT30; 45th; DNF.  SG 6 starts – 4xT20; 23d; 34th.

2021 season off per medical issues.

2021 fall training crash September – left leg badly hurt.

2022/23 off.

50 WC starts


FIS – November 2011 – March 2018

DH – 8 starts – 1x1st; 3x2nd; 2xT10; 48th; 50th;

SG – 16 starts – 3x1st; 2x2nd; 6xT10; 2xT20; 3xDNF.

GS – 31 starts – 2x2nd; 3x3d; 11xT10; 6xT20; 4xT30; 3xT40; 50th; 1xDNF.

SL – 39 starts – 1x2nd; 1x3d; 10xT10; 4xT10; 4xT20; 5xT30; 4xT40+; 14xDNF.

94 FIS starts


Nor-Am – December 2012 – March 2019

DH – 18 starts – 1x1st; 2x2nd; 3x3d; 8xT10; 2xT20; 2xT30.

SG – 24 starts – 1x1st; 1x2nd; 3x3d; 6xT10; 7xT20; 27th; 41st; 4xDNF.

GS – 28 starts – 6xT10; 5xT20; 4xT30; 3xT40; 2xT50; 8xDNF.

SL – 22 starts – 7xT20; 2xT30; 1x48th; 14xDNF.

92 Nor-Am starts


National Championships – December 2012 – March 2019

DH – 4 starts – 1x1st; 2xT10; 26th.

SG – 5 starts – 3xT10; 11th; DNF.

GS – 5 starts – 2xT10; 2xT20; DNF.

SL – 5 starts – 10th; 12th; 3xDNF.

19 National Championship starts

Junior World Champion – March 2017. Are, Sweden  DH – 1st

216 FIS+ level starts by age 22. Plus 30+/- Juniors

    It’ll be a trying season for Alice, no question. But she’s back and should be a bit faster each start. Amazing what she faced; more amazing that she endured and broke the problems. This, unfortunately, is almost SOP for WC ski racers—people built for the exceptional rather than for the ordinary.

Katharina Gallhuber won the Slalom bronze medal at Pyeongchang in 2018, when she was twenty-one. Sitting 9th after Run 1, her second descent was faster by 0.70 over gold medalist Frida Hansdotter, who placed 2nd twice. (Hansdotter reeled off six consecutive EOS SL Top-4s, then 5th place in 2019 to end her career. She won 2016 SL title; placed 2nd the two previous seasons.) An Austrian ski racer, Gallhuber was immediately expected to deliver great results bis zu den Kuhen kommen nach Hause.

     Her third full WAWC season, running SL almost exclusively, 2018 was a breakout for Katharina: EOS SL 7th – 9 starts – 5th; 6th; 4x7th; 10th; 23d; DNF. She also threw in EC SL 2x2nd from a handful of junior circuit Tech starts. The kid was on her way.

    Alas, a torn right ACL in December 2018 scotched the 2019 season. 2020 season had six SL starts through early February, with 8th at Killington best finish. Then single SL and GS starts on EC (a 10th) and FIS (2x2nd)—and season shut down end of the month. She and her coaches probably figured her healed/ing knee had worked enough. Good decision.

    2021: a ferocious WAWC SL return: 9 starts – 9th; 2xT12; 17th; 3xT30; DNF. Also EC SL 4 starts – 7th; 13th; 14th; DNF. Not back to standard, but she was racing hard.

    2022: WAWC SL – 9 starts – 2x6th; 8th; 25th; 27th; 3xDNQ, DSQ. EC SL – 4 starts – 2nd; 5th; 11th; DNF. Uneven progress, but progress. Getting it back. 25 years old; plenty of time to hit prime in top shape.

    Left ACL tear in August 2022 training. No 2023 season starts at any level.

    This happens to many ski racers, at every level. Falls, sometimes described as looking innocuous, seriously disrupt or end careers. Knocking on SL T10 residency with T5 a few seasons out, Katharina again stared up the rehab pitch.

    This season Gallhuber’s started all six Slaloms, and returned to stride at Courcheval (4th) and at Lienz (7th). Courcheval was superb. From bib 22 Katharina lay 6th after 1st run, just 0.06 from 4th. Graceful yet poised run—per Steve Perino, “dances her way into 6th place.” 2nd run driven, alert (15th best), which shook out to overall 4th.  Best WAWC finish ever; 2nd T5 (March 2018). Shows how a racer with elite chops can quickly drop from contention, fight back, fight back again, and howl with glee over a 4th place finish. What a demanding sport. Katharina Gallhuber’s really good, and IMO should EOS SL T10/12 this season. (Currently tied for 10th) She ran a couple FIS GS in December, so maybe she’ll throw her helmet into that ring too. But staking her deserved SL claim is tops on the list, I’m sure. Great to have her back.


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