Tayside and Central Scotland

Broken-back skier hopes for World Championships return

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Media captionCharlie Guest is in rehabilitation three weeks after breaking vertebrae in her back

A top Scottish skier who broke her back in training hopes to return to fitness in time for the world championships next February.

Charlie Guest, the UK number one female alpine slalom skier, is rehabilitating three weeks after breaking four vertebrae in the crash in Sweden.

The 20-year-old qualified for the World Championships in the USA before her injury.

She said she "hasn't ruled out" being fit in time for the tournament.

Ms Guest, from Perth, said it had been a "pretty regular training day" until the crash during her first run down the course.

She said: "I hit a corner which had slightly looser snow on it and went off the side of the course into an area you would never expect to crash into, full of chunks of ice and tree stumps.

Image copyright Charlie Guest
Image caption Ms Guest spent eight hours strapped to a backboard on her way to hospital

"I ended up landing on a boulder on my back in the forest.

"It hurt quite a lot, I was badly winded by the time I landed and my ribs were sore and I felt really sick.

"My coach ran down and was asking if I could feel my legs and my hands, if I could hear him talking to me, and all I could do was scream. I couldn't speak."

Ms Guest had plenty of time to think about her injuries as she spent eight hours strapped to a backboard during the 250km (155 mile) journey to hospital from the remote slope she was training on.

"To begin with I was just thankful I'd been wearing my back protector which my coach Stefan had made me wear," she said.

"It was only a few weeks earlier I'd started taking him seriously and put it on.

Image copyright Charlie Guest
Image caption Ms Guest is the UK number one female alpine slalom skier

"I don't want to think any more about what could have happened if I hadn't been wearing my back protector.

"It's fine - you look at it now and you wouldn't be able to tell it's been through a massive crash where I broke my back.

"It's a massive wake-up call - I think people should be wearing them for all disciplines, in ski racing especially."

Within three weeks of her diagnosis, Ms Guest was back in the gym at the Sport Scotland Institute of Sport in Stirling, and she hopes to be back on the slopes by January.

"I have to take it one step at a time," she said.

"The spinal column and all the nerves and ribs are fine, it's just the bones which need four to six weeks to heal.

"They told me the pain would be the hardest thing to overcome.

"I was super excited to have qualified for the World Championships in February, as its my first tournament with the senior team.

"I'm not going to rule myself out, I want to be back for that."

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