Reichelt could be back for finals, says surgeon
Austria's Hannes Reichelt competes during the FIS men's Alpine World Cup Downhill race in Kitzbuehel on January 25, 2014 - by Olivier Morin
The surgery, which put an end to Reichelt's Olympic dreams, could not be postponed, Michael Gabl added, noting that the skier had begun feeling some paralysis in his legs on Monday.
The 33-year-old super-G specialist had suffered a slipped disc and a piece of cartilage "the size of a thumbnail" had lodged itself in the spine's central canal, Gabl, director of the Kettenbruecke clinic in Innsbruck, told a press conference Tuesday.
This was removed during a 45-minute routine intervention and Reichelt was already able to get up, although he will require several weeks of physiotherapy.
"Surgery was urgently needed, there was no discussion about that," Gabl said.
"Any kind of sporting activity would have been grossly negligent."
If the recovery goes well, Reichelt could theoretically be back on his skis in time for the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland on March 10-16, the surgeon said.
But the decision will come down to the skier himself and the team.
Reichelt had been suffering from back problems all season but scored a sensational win on home snow Saturday in front of a rapturous crowd in Kitzbuehel.
Even then, he admitted to taking serious painkillers to master the tricky course.
The Austrian was one of the favourites to secure a medal in Sochi for the alpine nation.