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Posted: Thursday April 30, 2009 9:49PM; Updated: Thursday April 30, 2009 9:49PM

Albrecht leaves hospital, hopes to race again

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BERN, Switzerland (AP) -- Swiss skier Daniel Albrecht left the hospital Wednesday saying he wants to return to top-level racing after a crash that left him comatose for three weeks.

The 25-year-old Albrecht spoke to reporters for the first time since he suffered brain and lung injuries in a Jan. 22 fall in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

"I've decided that I want to do everything possible to come back at the top," Albrecht said, but ruled out competing next season. "I like skiing as a cool job, but I know I have to consider the situation that it might not work out. First I have to be totally healthy again."

Albrecht was kept in an induced coma for three weeks by doctors in Austria to help him recover from internal injuries suffered when crashing in downhill training on the infamous Streif course.

He lost control in mid-air on the final jump and hit the slope heavily before sliding headfirst to a stop with his face pressed to the icy piste.

Albrecht said he asked his girlfriend to show him the video but still had no memory of the crash.

"It was as if I saw another athlete falling," he said. "I don't have any connection to this scene."

His total lack of recall also means Albrecht has no trauma talking about the accident, saying he accepts it as a simple fact.

The popular Swiss skier has had some neurological problems during an otherwise successful rehabilitation period, which continued at a clinic in the Swiss capital Bern.

He described seeing a butterfly and knowing all about it, yet being unable to name it. He also has difficulty concentrating when in a group of people talking.

Albrecht has lost weight and muscle and said he was unable to perform a single push-up during his first visit to the gym. He can now do 10.

"I consider myself a junior ski racer now and I'm looking forward to the first training," said the former world champion in super-combined, who missed the chance to defend his gold medal in February.

He will return to his family home in the Alpine village of Fiesch.

His main sponsor has shown faith in him by renewing a contract for two years, while the skier has extended the clothing line which he launched last season under the brand name Albright.

A line of T-shirts and baseball caps with the slogan "Never Give Up" will raise money for two foundations that work with brain injury patients.

"I know I was very lucky," said Albrecht, who won two World Cup races last season and has four career victories.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
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