|The Swiss Olympic champion from 2006 in the Snowboard Cross, Tanja Frieden, announced at the 26th of January 2010 in a clinic in Zurich her immediate withdrawal from competitive sport. It was a consequence of her severe injury she sustained at a competition in Stoneham (Canada) the week before.
It was also the end of the dream to defend her title at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in mid-February 2010. She had worked hard for this goal and also managed two throwbacks in the last years. First she fell ill with Lyme disease. When she reached again her best level a circulatory disorder of the ankle occurred which threw her back again for a long time.
But the athlete from the Bernese Alps fought her way back. Her preparation for the Olympic Games in 2010 went well. In the competition of Veysonnaz in mid-January, she was the best Swiss and became fifth. So she was nearly qualified for Vancouver and should get the ticket for the Olympic Games in the World Cup race in Stoneham. But there the mishap occurred. "It happened after a compression," said Frieden, "during the landing, the front part of the snowboard gets stuck in the snow. The angle was so bad that the entire forces had an impact on my feet." The 33-year-old fell heavily. "First there was a sharp pain in my heels. Then I had a slight hope that the Achilles tendons were not completely torn. But in my heart I already knew that it was all over, my dream won't become true," she said later.
Even at the scene, her shoulder was put in right place by an emergency doctor. Because of their injured feet she has to be carried from the slope. The physicians in the hospital in Quebec found that both Achilles tendons are torn. The shock runs deep: "I have no words for the situation. It is a very severe case two weeks before my big goal, the Olympic Games." On the next day an ambulance drove her to the airport of Montreal. She went back to Switzerland with a scheduled flight and was carried directly to the Hirslanden clinic in Zurich where she had surgery on her Achilles tendons.
A few days later she invited to a press conference in the lobby of the hospital. Tanja Frieden was brought in a wheelchair and was almost in tears: "I never thought that this moment comes before the Olympic Games in Vancouver. But now it is here." Then she said what everybody had expected: "I retire from professional sports." If the Olympic Games had been next year, she would have tried a comeback. "But in my age, four years are a too long time," she said resignedly. "But the end of her career does not feel like the low point."
Physician Walter Frey named her injuries: two torn Achilles tendons, the left ankle bone broken and the right cracked, the left shoulder joint injured due to the dislocation. "Such an accumulation of injuries is a rarity," said Frey. "The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon. Normally, it can bear the pressure of one ton. It must have occurred tremendous forces. Usually only the weakest link breaks. However I've never experienced that both tendons simultaneously tear and furthermore the bone breaks."
After successful operations, the Swiss Sportswoman of the Year 2006 faces a long rehabilitation process. Due to her shoulder injury she has to use a wheelchair for three to four weeks. When asked what her future looks like, Tanja Frieden has not yet an answer: "First I have to be healthy again. Then I need some time for my own, and afterwards it would be glad to do something in winter sports. But I have no concrete plans yet."