Austrian skier Benjamin Raich will miss the super-combined at the Sochi Olympics unless the sport’s ruling body makes an exception and lets the 2006 two-time gold medalist compete even though he failed to qualify.
The Austrian ski team said Wednesday it will ask the International Ski Federation for the exception for Raich on medical grounds.
Persistent back problems forced Raich to pull out of Friday’s World Cup super-combined in Wengen, Switzerland — his last chance of meeting the Olympic qualifying criteria set by FIS.
“It was a very tough decision, but it would be useless” to start, Raich said.
Competitors need at least three World Cup downhill results since 2012 to be allowed to start, but Raich has just two: at Lake Louise in 2012 and at the Wengen super-combined last year.
The Austrian ski federation already had anticipated the issue and organized a national super-combined championship earlier this month. However, Raich had to skip that event as well because of his injury.
Raich, who is expected to start in slalom and giant slalom in Sochi, won Olympic bronze in both combined and slalom in 2002 and gold in GS and slalom four years later.
Even if Raich were allowed to start, it’s unclear whether he would be fit enough to compete in the Olympic super-combined Feb. 14.
“You can’t tell,” Austria men’s Coach Mathias Berthold said. “He is trying to get his body as much rest as possible and get physiotherapy in.”
Raich, who has won 36 World Cup races and was the 2006 overall champion, said he was still hopeful of starting Sunday’s slalom at Wengen.
“I will focus on my rehab the next couple of days,” Raich said.
Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk has been named captain of Russia’s Olympic hockey team. Datsyuk is recovering from a lower-body injury that has sidelined him almost two weeks. This will be his fourth Olympics.
The Russian staff chose the 35-year-old Datsyuk over such candidates as Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk.
Ovechkin is the only Russian captain in the NHL and voiced support for Datsyuk on the day Olympic rosters were announced. Kovalchuk left the New Jersey Devils to play in the Kontinental Hockey League.
When biathlete Tracy Barnes learned she had made the cut for the U.S. Olympic team, she turned and winked at her twin sister Lanny. After getting sick during the final qualifying races in Ridnaun, Italy, Lanny Barnes thought her Olympic dreams were over and assumed her sister was telling her she would race for her in Sochi.
It was only later on a walk in the Italian Alps that Tracy told her what was really on her mind: She would give up her spot on the team so Lanny, a three-time Olympian who finished just behind her, would qualify for the team and compete in Sochi instead.
“She is my hero, and this only shows true selflessness and the Olympic spirit. This has motivated me even more to not only represent my country but to represent her as well,” Lanny Barnes, 32, of Durango told the Associated Press in an e-mail Tuesday from Italy.
Tracy Barnes barely missed qualifying for the 2010 Olympics after competing alongside her sister in 2006.
In a statement released by the team, Tracy Barnes said her sister had posted a stellar season before falling ill, and she wanted to give her a second chance.
“Lanny is my best friend and my teammate. I see how hard she works on a daily basis, so I know firsthand that she is deserving of a spot on the Olympic team,” she said.