U.S. skier Heidi Kloser had her 2014 Winter Olympics end before they started after she suffered a horrific injury during a practice run on Thursday. Despite that, Kloser didn’t miss out on marching with fellow American athletes during the Opening Ceremony in Sochi Friday night.
In a touching display of defiance and heart, Kloser opted to walk into the Olympic Stadium on crutches and not sit in a wheelchair that was provided for her. With that act, the 21-year-old from Vail, Colorado provided one of the most memorable scenes of the night.
Kloser fell during her training run just before she was supposed to take her first preliminary run on Thursday. She suffered a completely torn ACL, a partially torn MCL and a fractured right femur. She had to be taken to the nearby athletes’ village in an ambulance for further evaluation.
While in the ambulance, Kloser reportedly asked her father if she was still an Olympian, since she wouldn’t actually be competing. He reassured her that she was.
Kloser is the second-ranked American moguls skier and is currently ranked fourth in the world. She was considered a likely medalist. Something tells us she’ll have another chance to make up for this year’s disappointment at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
But on Friday Kloser definitively showed she truly has the Olympic spirit. And more than all the over-the-top visuals, dancing, singing and ridiculous fireworks, the scene of her marching into the Fisht Olympic Stadium will be what I remember from this year’s Opening Ceremony.