It’s happened a few times during his comeback. Olympic downhill champion Tommy Moe takes a jump or a hard turn and feels a twinge in his reconstructed right knee.
“The brain says, ‘What’s that? That wasn’t there before,”’ Moe said. “Or you want to take the most direct line in a turn and for some reason subconsciously there’s something holding you back.”
Moe won gold and silver at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, in the downhill and super-G, the only American with two Alpine medals at the same Games.
Last March, Moe wrecked his right knee on the same Kvitfjell course where he won his two Olympics medals. He returned to skiing in October and joined the World Cup circuit in December, but his finishes so far have been in the 30s and 40s.
“I think I have the same attitude as ever,” Moe said. “I’m physically 100 percent. Now it’s psychological and my results have been a little boney.”
“There’s definitely a little fear now,” he added. “As soon as you’re injured, you have your doubts. … It’s definitely a tough injury to come back from. There’s a fine line between doing really well and being 32nd.”
Downhill racing is skiing’s version of Formula One, where the slightest hesitation translates into two or three lost seconds at the finish line - a fact that’s likely to keep Moe off the podium at the World Alpine Skiing Championships opening here Sunday.
These championships are for gaining confidence, not winning medals, Moe said.
The downhill course figures to be fast but easier than some on the World Cup circuit, allowing the Alaskan to relax and shoot for the 12th place he had on the same course in a 1993 World Cup race here.
“I did pretty good the last time,” he said. “The course is somewhat easy compared to some of the courses we race. It will be low-key and not so intimidating.”
“Right now I’m looking forward to Spain because it’s a good track and not so steep. It could be a definite confidence builder,” he added.
The downhill at the world championships is set for Feb. 17, Moe’s 26th birthday. Two years ago, he took Olympic silver in the super-G on his 24th birthday.
“I don’t think I’ll be celebrating this year,” he said. “I’m not counting myself out. I think I have a shot. A top 10 is not out of the question.”