- Aksel Lund Svindal tears Achilles tendon in freak accident
- Svindal sustained the injury playing football with teammates
- Norwegian star looking to defend world downhill title next year
- Could be ruled out for up to fourth months
A freak injury while playing an impromptu game of football with his teammates could sideline Norwegian skiing great Aksel Lund Svindal for the entire World Cup season.
The five-time world champion was training in Soelden in Austria ahead of the opening races at that ski resort next week when he tore his Achilles tendon.
Svindal described on his official Facebook page what had happened.
"I was out for a little run with the rest of the team... We ended the session playing around with a ball. Just holding it up in the air between us.
"Suddenly I felt something snap in my leg and I knew right away that something was wrong. Achilles."
Svindal, a two-time overall World Cup champion, was rushed to hospital in Innsbruck, 100km away, and underwent surgery straight away.
"Extremely bad timing just as the season is about to start. But now that it's happened there's not much I can do," he wrote.
"Nobody can say 100% sure how long the recovery will take, but I'm ready for the weeks that are coming."
Norway team doctor Jacob Strauss gave a gloomy verdict. "He will probably not get back on his skis before three or four months."
Svindal was due to defend his world downhill title at the championships in Beaver Creek in Colorado next February and the setback places that in some doubt.
The 2010 Olympic super-G gold medalist is no stranger to injury and missed most of the 2007-8 season after a heavy crash at Beaver Creek on the testing Birds of Prey course.
"I'll stay in Austria for a while before I go back to Norway and discuss further rehab with the crew at the Olympic Center in Oslo," he added.