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Ski jumper Morgenstern hospitalized after crash

AP - Sports

TAUPLITZ, Austria (AP) -- Three-time Olympic ski jump champion Thomas Morgenstern of Austria suffered skull injuries and a bruised lung in a ski flying crash on Friday, 30 days before the opening event at the Sochi Games.

The Austrian ski federation said Morgenstern was ''conscious and well responsive'' and his condition would be monitored in the intensive care unit of a Salzburg hospital for the next 72 hours.

The federation said it was ''way too early'' to judge Morgenstern's chances of competing in Sochi, and that an update on his condition was not expected before Monday.

The individual competition on the normal hill in Sochi is scheduled for Feb. 8, with the large hill on Feb. 15 and the team event on Feb. 17. Morgenstern won Olympic gold in the individual competition and the team event in 2006, and again in the team event four years later.

Morgenstern's injuries were not life-threatening, head of clinic Josef Obrist told the Austria Press Agency.

''He has a serious injury and he has to be monitored fulltime,'' said Obrist, adding that Morgenstern was responsive and gave clear answers.

The 27-year-old Morgenstern crashed while training for this weekend's ski flying World Cup. During his second jump of the day, he lost his balance in the air, turned over to the left and landed on his back and head. He briefly lost consciousness but was able to speak shortly afterward.

''Fortunately he was responsive, Thomas can move arms and legs. That's very important,'' team physician Herbert Leitner said. ''He asked me what happened.''

Morgenstern received first aid on the hill and was flown by helicopter to the hospital, head coach Alexander Pointner said.

''We can only hope for the best,'' Pointner said. ''This really hurts because we are all very close. Thomas is the heart of this team.''

Earlier Friday, Morgenstern jumped 196.5 meters in his flawless first training run on the Kulm, one of the five largest ski flying hills in the world.

His second attempt was disturbed as his skis made contact in the air, the federation's sport director, Ernst Vettori, said.

''He didn't make a mistake at his jump but the ends of his skis touched each other which threw him offline,'' said Vettori, a 1992 Olympic ski jump champion.

It's the second big crash for Morgenstern in the Olympic season. He crashed into the snow following a jump at the World Cup in Titisee-Neustadt, Germany, on Dec. 15.

That crash came one day after Morgenstern had won his first World Cup event in almost two years. He suffered several bruises, face cuts and a broken finger from that mishap, but recovered quickly and finished runner-up to Austrian teammate Thomas Diethart in the Four Hills Tour last week.

Morgenstern, who has won 23 individual World Cup events and took the overall title in 2008 and 2011, won the prestigious Four Hills title three years ago.

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