Sasa Faric Reflects On Bronze

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Faric dislocated her hip less than a month before WX '09 bronze.

If anyone was surprised by Slovenian Sasa Faric's bronze medal in Skier X at WX13, it was Faric herself.

Less than a month before her trip to Aspen and WX, she lay on a slope in Linz, Austria, her right hip dislocated after a midair collision on a training run. "It was a really strange feeling," she says. It could have been worse; at the time, she thought she'd broken it.

Thanks to a quick helicopter evac, Faric was at the hospital within 20 minutes. Doctors were able to quickly manipulate the still-warm muscles and put the joint back in place. It was Dec. 28.

"For two weeks I worked eight hours a day with my physical trainer, and I was back for [W]X games," she says. Fourteen days after the accident, she was on a plane to a race in Lake Placid, and then it was on to Winter X.

The bronze medal "means a lot to me because I was injured," she says. "I was really well prepared up until then, but afterward my right leg wasn't the same as my left. My balance and everything was not good, and I still got third." She keeps her medal displayed in her living room.

Her season was shortened after another post-WX crash in which she pulled some muscles. It wasn't a major injury, but with just a couple of races left in the season she decided to end the campaign early.

These aren't the first obstacles she's had to overcome. Her mother died in a car accident when she was just 12. Disillusioned with the Slovenian alpine program in her late teens, she left the team. She was suspended in 2004-05 after testing positive for marijuana, which helped foster a reputation as a party girl. Her prerace nerves were so bad, she was forced to seek help from a psychiatrist.

Still, Winter X bronze is just one of her accomplishments. She began racing skiercross on the World Cup in 2003 and won her first race. In 2008, she was second overall in World Cup skiercross. She's had top-10 finishes in her six Skier X appearances.

Sasa has steadily matured over the years, completing her university studies in economics and marketing and preparing to take final exams for her degree soon. She's learned a series of calming techniques that she practices every day, which have helped calm the pre-event jitters. And she's physically back on track.

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Faric follows Seraina Murk and Magdalena Jonsson over the final jump at WX '09.

"I've trained a lot this year after the injuries," she says. "I feel very good and very strong now." While she won't give herself any lofty goals, she is looking forward to Winter X, the Winter Olympics and beyond. "I hope to do this Olympics and two more," she says. "I'm 25 and the oldest racer in skiercross is 42, so I have time. Magdalena Iljans [Jonsson] is older, too. Maybe I'll be the next Magda." Jonsson, now 40, has five Winter X medals and took second just in front of Faric at WX13. Clearly, Sasa's already on the right track.