Boisean learns today whether he’ll compete in Olympic downhill

ccripe@idahostatesman.comFebruary 7, 2014 

Sochi Olympics Alpine Skiing Men

Erik Fisher makes a turn during men's downhill training at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on Thursday in Russia.

LUCA BRUNO — The Associated Press

Little went right for Boise’s Erik Fisher after he made the U.S. Olympic team as a downhill skier in 2010.

A broken wrist prevented him from racing in Vancouver.

A torn anterior cruciate ligament ended his 2011-12 season early.

Complications from that surgery led to another surgery — the fourth on his left knee — and cost him the entire 2012-13 season.

Still, he has returned to the Olympics and hopes to compete Sunday in the men’s downhill. He’s one of six American downhillers on the Olympic team; only four get to race.

“It ended up being coaches’ discretion for my spot (on the team), so it was the coaches seeing that I can do well and believing in me,” Fisher said.

Fisher returned to the World Cup circuit Nov. 30 — his first race at that level since March 3, 2012.

In five downhill starts this season, he has finished a high of 13th and low of 37th. He also competes in the super-G (season best: 28th), but he didn’t make the Olympic lineup in that event.

“It’s kind of been building — just baby steps, working back and getting back into the World Cup downhill-racing scene,” said Fisher, an Eagle High graduate. “It’s a pretty brutal circuit, so you don’t want to just jump in full force right away. I’m trying to build and hopefully peak at the Olympics.”

Whether Fisher races in the Olympics will be determined during the team’s training runs at the course in the mountains outside Sochi.

He was in the same position four years ago — but this time he’s healthy.

Fisher was injured in a training run shortly before the 2010 Olympics. He couldn’t ski with the cast, so he cut it off early. The intense pain prevented him from skiing at an elite level.

“I think he thought, ‘I don’t care how much pain I’m in, this is the Olympics and I can do it,’ ” said his mom, Shelly Fisher. “But in reality it wasn’t possible. He did try and he got part of a training run done, but he actually said he was dry heaving on the course because he was in so much pain. That’s just not safe when you’re going 80 miles an hour.

“I think it was disappointing. Ski racing inherently is a disappointing sport and so they get pretty used to it. If you’re really sensitive and can’t handle failure, then that’s not the sport for you.”

For Fisher, the Olympics aren’t “everything in our sport.” He moved on quickly to other goals.

But he also knows the importance of the Olympics to everyone else — and he wants a chance to race. The disappointment of 2010 helped push him through all of the setbacks since.

“It definitely fed the fire,” he said.

For how much longer that fire will burn, he is unsure. He plans to compete for at least one more season to race in the 2015 world championships in Colorado.

Beyond that, the 28-year-old hasn’t made a decision.

“I’ve been thinking about that a lot,” he said. “I love what I do. I don’t heal as fast, and I don’t crash and get up as easy, as I used to, for sure. But it’s OK. I can still go out and ski fast — and that’s what’s important right now.”

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398; Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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