Anja Pärson beats pain to claim Olympic medal

AFP/The Local
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Anja Pärson beats pain to claim Olympic medal

Swedish skier Anja Pärson battled through the pain barrier to claim an heroic bronze medal in the women's super-combined at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.


Pärson crashed out of the downhill event in Whistler on Wednesday prompting fears that her Olympic dream may have reached a premature end.

The 28-year-old suffered severe bruising in a spectacular crash in Wednesday's downhill while racing to a near certain silver medal.

But she made a last-minute decision to race the super-combined, comprised of a downhill and slalom, and finished third behind Germany's Maria Riesch and American Julia Mancuso.

In pocketing a bronze Pärson pulled equal with former fierce rival Janica Kostelic of Croatia in having won six Olympic alpine skiing medals.

Pärson's bronze in Vancouver will be added to slalom gold from the 2006 Turin Games, a giant slalom silver in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, and three other bronzes (combined and downhill in 2006, slalom in 2002).

"I didn't know I was up for something historic until I came here and some journalist told me," the 28-year-old said.

"I feel very proud of my career. I think I did nine starts for six medals, so it's pretty amazing what I've accomplished."

"If I can be next to Jana (Kostelic), it's great because me and her have been on and off pushing each other for perfection in skiing."

"I'm very proud I've managed to be around at the same time as her and race against her. She was a great skier."

Pärson notably won two overall World Cup titles in 2004 and 2005, the latter coming thanks to a three-point advantage over Kostelic, who won triple Olympic gold in 2002 (slalom, giant slalom, combined), a combined gold in Turin and two further super-G silvers.

The Swede, who hails from the same northern town as skiing legend Ingemar Stenmark but is now based in Monaco, said she had received a good pounding in

Wednesday's fall.

"It doesn't matter which side I turn on when I'm sleeping. The biggest bruise is on my right butt and there's internal bleeding in my left calf. I don't think I look that beautiful."

"Normally I never bruise, so I'm pretty pleased I've got some bruises," she joked.

"I was very determined to go up there and try something."

"I knew I had some time until my start number. My physio and my service man were pretty scared because I tried to be as angry as possible from the start but it worked."

"I thought if I could make the first jump after 10 seconds then I could make the whole course and I was pretty happy making that jump."

Pärson also compared herself to now-retired Austrian master Hermann Maier, who famously rebounded from a horror crash at the 1998 Nagano Games.

"Yes, I am that kind of person," said the Swede, who has recorded a remarkable 41 wins (18 slalom, 11 giant slalom, 4 super-G, 5 downhill, 3 combined) on the World Cup circuit on which she made her debut as a 16-year-old in 1998.


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