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Olympics-Alpine skiing-Weirather pulls out of downhill

Reuters

* Injured Weirather out of women's downhill

* Liechtenstein skier risks being out of the Games (Adds statement from skier)

By Alan Baldwin

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Liechtenstein's Olympic medal hope Tina Weirather pulled out of the women's Alpine skiing downhill on Tuesday, saying she was heartbroken at an injury that could rule her out of the Sochi Games entirely.

"Heartbroken that I can't compete tomorrow. My highlight, the Olympic downhill. I was ready," the Alpine skier, who has battled back from multiple knee inuries in the past, said on her facebook page and website.

"I always felt responsible for my crashes and injuries, but this time I feel like it was just bad luck. I will fight to get ready for the Super-G in four days, but realistically and from a medical point of view its very unlikely.

"Anyways, I'm hoping for a miracle!," she added.

Weirather missed the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, and the entire 2011 World Cup campaign, due to torn ligaments but has been a winner this season and carried the hopes of her tiny Alpine state.

The daughter of double Olympic champion Hanni Wenzel and Austria's 1982 men's downhill world champion Harti Weirather, she suffered a heavy bruise to the top of her shin in training on Sunday.

The skier was taken to hospital for checks that revealed bruising to the bone but no damage to her ligaments.

Swiss coach Roland Platzer, who works with the 24-year-old, had earlier told Reuters at a team captains' meeting that a decision would be made shortly before the start of Wednesday's showcase race.

She had been assigned bib number 16 in the draw to determine the starting order after final downhill training was cancelled to preserve the piste from damage due to warm conditions.

Liechtenstein's flag bearer in the opening ceremony arrived in Sochi as a medal contender in the downhill, super-G and giant slalom races.

Her German-born mother became Liechtenstein's first gold medallist when she won the giant slalom and slalom at the Lake Placid Games in 1980. She also won downhill silver.

Hanni's brother Andreas also won a silver in giant slalom that year to give Liechtenstein four medals - a feat calculated as being one for every 6,250 of the country's citizens. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond/Peter Rutherford)

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