VETERAN Australian alpine skier Cameron Rahles-Rahbula has suffered a knee injury in his training session crash at the Sochi Winter Paralympics and will miss his opening races.
But the former Camper-down athlete will remain the flagbearer at the opening ceremony and is hopeful of competing later in the competition.
Rahles-Rahbula, 30, came unstuck late in his practice run on Wednesday on the treacherous downhill course, which was later slammed by teammate Mitchell Gourley, and was taken to hospital with a suspected ankle injury.
However, scans revealed a tibial plateau fracture, at the top of his shinbone near his knee joint. He was also treated for facial cuts and bruising.
He was immediately withdrawn from his first race on Friday, the downhill, but will compete in his pet event the slalom and the giant slalom next week.
He will wait to see how the injury responds to treatment before deciding whether he will take part in the super-G and super combined races in the days following the downhill.
Rahles-Rahbula, who would be competing in his fourth Paralympics, has said that since reversing his decision to retire his lack of time on the snow would make the downhill particularly risky.
“I can remember it quite vividly actually. It was just a challenging turn and it (the ski) just lost the edge and was slipping, which is pretty normal in ski racing,” he said.
“Unfortunately, with the way the snow is — quite clumpy and heavy — off the side of the track where I slipped into, my leg just stopped and I managed to twist myself.
“The ankle is quite sore but structurally it’s quite sound.
“The knee doesn’t feel too bad but I have a fracture in the front part of the knee (tibia bone) and maybe some other (cartilage) damage which we’re not quite sure.
“We’ll see how it feels over the next few days.
“The actual fracture is not in a critical part of the knee so it doesn’t rule me out entirely.”
However, Rahles-Rahbula said his decision had to go beyond his sporting pursuits.
“The downhill is definitely out of the question at the moment, because I’m not weight-bearing yet (on my right leg). We’ll see how it feels in a week and then see what’s going on,” he said.
“But in saying that we’ve got to take into account the long-term effects on the knee, particularly being an amputee. That’s always something I’ve got to be aware of.”
It is believed Rahles-Rahbula would be able to fulfill his flag carrying duties by using a wheelchair if needed.
“I’m going to try to do everything in my power to be there. We’re going to try to come up with a plan to enable me to walk along.
“At the moment I’m getting along on crutches and a prosthetic leg. The chances are I will be there.”