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Sildaru's Olympic hopes dashed following ACL tear, operation

Freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru.
Freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru. Source: (Reuters/Scanpix)

Estonian Ski Association board member Kalle Palling confirmed to ERR that Olympic hopeful freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru, 15, underwent a knee operation on Tuesday following an ACL injury sustained while training in New Zealand earlier this month.

Sildaru injured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee while training in New Zealand two weeks ago.

Asked if Sildaru competing in the upcoming Winter Olympics was ruled out, Palling said that recovering from the operation will take six to nine months.

He also noted that she did not want to go to the Olympics underprepared, even if the recovery process should be faster than expected.

According to Dr. Madis Rahu, who operated on the young world champion skier, Sildaru's ACL injury was identified in the course of the first evaluation of her knee, which took place a week after the injury was sustained. As her knee was otherwise relatively stable, it was decided that Sildaru and her family would take some extra time to decide on a treatment plan together. The opinions of various other doctors were also sought in connection with the possibility of her participating in the upcoming Winter Games as well as the young athlete's future career.

"Yesterday during followup testing, when the swelling in her knee had gone down more, clear signs of instability were visible in the tests," Rahu said. "This, in turn, meant that one conservative form of treatment that had been weighed, which would have allowed us to avoid operating, was eliminated. The operation confirmed that the ACL in her left knee had torn completely and the meniscus required operation as well."

According to the doctor, recovery from such an operation takes six to nine months' time as a rule, but noted that the operation itself was just 20 percent of recovery. "Her knee has been stabilized and she is expected to make a full recovery, but rehabilitation is to follow which will demand a great deal of effort and discipline of the athlete," he commented. "But Kelly will surely be able to handle this."

Sildaru to take part in Games as spectator

"I thank everyone who has helped and supported me during these very difficult weeks," Sildaru said. "Thank you to Madis Rahu and Mihkel Mardna, who provided us with all the information we needed to determine the best treatment so that I prepare as much as possible for next season. I will participate in the Olympic Games as a spectator this time, and I will obviously be the biggest fan to my fellow competitors."

Injuries are a part of all sports, the young Estonian skier recalled, but noted that injuries must be healed completely so that one can strive toward their next victories and remain active in their sport for as long as possible.

The 2018 Winter Olympics will take place in PyeongChang, South Korea from Feb. 9-25.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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