Unni Odegaard Update: Back On Her Feet

FasterSkierDecember 3, 2004

Unni Odegaard’s World Championship dream was destroyed when a car hit her during rollerski training. Unni is in this interview with Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet talking about the tough time after the accident and her dream about making the 2006 Olympic team.

To see recent photos of Unni, look at the original Dagbladet article:


Unni’s accident was four month ago. Previous Fasterskier.com articles about the accident:
<Former US Factory Team Skier Unni Odegard Injured In Accident
<Unni Odegaard Update
<Uncertain Recovery Time For Unni Odegaard
<Use A Helmet When Rollerskiing!
<Helmet Use Is Now Mandatory
Dagbladet's article:

Norwegian champion Unni Odegaard’s  (30) dream about the 2005 Worlds in Oberstdorf, Germany was crushed when she was hit by a car and seriously injured during training. She is now back on her feet.

Unni had quit her job and put her career on hold to train, train, train. Her results the last two season’s had been encouraging after four years of studies at the US at the University of Colorado.

She won the Norwegian 30-kilometer championship last winter. She also represented Norway in several World Cup races last season. She was back on top and trained accordingly.

– I envisioned a spot for me on the World Championship team, says Unni. A summer with focus and tough training was paying off. Unni was setting PR’s in her own time-trial courses.

She broke the course record in a very tough hill climb race in August.

Then it happened.

The short version: Unni was hit from behind by a car while classic rollerskiing.

– I can’t remember anything from the next several weeks, says Unni.  

But she has been told what happened. Her boyfriend was called up and asked to come to the hospital. The doctors didn’t know if she would survive and what kind of condition she would be in if she did. Her head had taken a hard hit.

Her doctors are not letting her travel by plane, they are afraid of pressure changes in her head. She is on the other hand happy that she can travel at all and is recognizing that some luck was involved in the too:

– The person in the car behind the one that hit me was a doctor. The person in the car behind him again was a nurse. I got qualified help from the first second, says Unni. That was invaluable, since she had head, leg and shoulder injuries. She would most likely not have survived without the helmet.

Dreaming about the Olympics

Unni has spent the whole fall at the hospital, and it’s now possible to say that it’s going well for her.

 She still has some fluid buildup in her head, a problem shoulder, a leg and knee that hurt, so promising a skiing comeback is impossible at this point. But she has a remarkable fire and willpower. Unni will be back competing if it’s physically possible.

– That’s my carrot. Next winter’s Olympic games in Torino. A summer with hard training. I’m dreaming about that. Not sure if it’s possible, not even sure if I'll have life long problems from this. I’ll probably know in a year.

 What Unni does know is that her recovery has been much faster than the doctors envisioned. Being physically fit helped her.

– I have of course been down and depressed. Angry and bitter. Could hardly watch television when the ski season started at Beitostolen. That was hard. But I have most of all been impatient and focused on getting up on my feet again.

She is now standing on her own feet. A few days ago she snuck in a little bit of skiing without telling her doctors.

– I couldn’t wait. I was very curious to see if I was able to ski, if I still had coordination and balance. It wasn’t a long trip, only a few hundred meters. But it was fine. Everything was working. It was a milestone for me, says Unni. 

Unni now wants to focus on getting healthy. Healthy enough to train hard once more, to see how good she can become, ski for Norway in the next Olympics.

– That has been a dream for me the last few months and it might become more than a dream, says Unni.

She has not heard a word from the driver that hit her, when she was skiing in an orange sweater, on a straight road with a speed limit of 60-kilometer per hour

 -We have to believe that he at least read in the paper that I survived.


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