Lake Louise (AB), Canada – World alpine ski racing champion John Kucera traveled from his home in Calgary to Lake Louise, Alberta, yesterday, continuing to work towards his return to FIS World Cup ski racing and talking to reporters about his experience in the past year recovering from a horrific leg injury.nIt was just three days shy of a year since Kucera fractured the tibia and fibula in his left leg, when he participated in interviews for Canadian broadcaster CBC and international media yesterday, prior to the final Bombardier Lake Louise Winterstart Downhill training run.
“From a physical standpoint I actually feel really strong. I am in really good physical shape and I have got all my strength and everything back,” said the 26-year-old Kucera. “I am just getting back on snow now so there is a lot of work to be done and a long ways to go before I am ready to compete.”
Kucera said he is pleased with his progress toward a full recovery. He appreciates the effort of the Alpine Canada Alpin (ACA) medical staff and applauded the facilities available to Canadian alpine ski racers, including Bob Niven Training Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, where he has done the majority of his rehabilitation.
“Everything is going well and everything is healing properly,” said Kucera. “These are the experiences that make you tough, that really shape you into a stronger athlete. Overcoming adversity is a part of sport in general. If you can overcome major setbacks and hurdles, you definitely become mentally stronger in the end.
“The goal from the beginning was to come back physically stronger and that goal has been accomplished,” he said.
Kucera told the media that he spent some of his downtime traveling, including a trip to Croatia, and describes the break as a good opportunity for him to get mentally refreshed.
Kucera, the reigning men’s world downhill champion, was not certain whether he would return to the World Cup in time for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, this February.
“This year will not define my career. It’s about the eight, nine or 10 years to come,” he said. “If I am ready that’s great. I want to be fully ready when I come back so I can compete and be competitive. If that means it’s not this year and it’s next year, that’s what it is.”
Kucera’s teammates said it was great to have Kucera in Lake Louise this week, and they look forward to his return.
“It’s nice to see him back on skis. We have had Frankie (Bourque) and JP Roy come back this year as well. It’s nice to see them out there. We feel more like a complete team, there’s nobody missing so it’s a lot of fun,” said Canadian Alpine Ski Team racer Erik Guay, of Mont Tremblant, Quebec.