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Skier Albrecht in coma after training crash

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KITZBUEHEL, Austria (Reuters) - Swiss super-combined world champion Daniel Albrecht was in an artificial coma on Thursday after crashing heavily in training for Saturday’s World Cup downhill in Kitzbuehel, race organizers said.

Albrecht, winner of two giant slaloms this season, lost his balance on the last jump of the Streif piste, fell and lost consciousness.

The 25-year-old was flown by helicopter to a local hospital, where he briefly regained consciousness before being placed in an artificial coma. He was then transferred to the University Clinic of Innsbruck, race doctor Helmutt Obermoser said.

Albrecht was diagnosed with concussion and a lung contusion (bruising) and was undergoing further examination.

The Streif is notorious as one of the most demanding downhill courses and Albrecht fell at the same place where American Scott Macartney was injured last season. Macartney, who fell on his back and lost consciousness, returned to competition this winter.

A former triple junior world champion, Albrecht is considered one of the most talented skiers on the Swiss team. He underlined his credentials by clinching gold in the super-combined at the 2007 world championships in Are, Sweden, and silver in the giant slalom.

He has since won several World Cup races including the opening giant slalom in Soelden in October and another giant slalom in Alta Badia in December.

An all-rounder, he is widely seen as one of the skiers likely to take the overall World Cup title sooner or later.

Reporting by Patrick Lang, Editing by Francois Thomazeau and Sonia Oxley