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"Wilde Hilde" on a Roll

Ace German skier Hilde Gerg is a hot favourite for gold at next month's Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in the women's high-speed downhill and super-G alpine ski races.

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A fighter and a winner all the way!

Hilde Gerg might just make history as one of the most amazing comeback stories in women's skiing at Salt Lake City next month.

The 26-year-old suffered a horrific training injury two years ago that fractured her leg and threatened to end her career. Today the blond skier, who still wears a titanium nail in her lower right leg, is back and kicking.

And she has her eyes firmly trained on gold next month.

Success despite crippling injury

Gerg overcame her injury and won a bronze medal in the super-G at the St Anton world championships last February. A month later she won the downhill in the World Cup finals in Are.

She also took the German success story in women's skiing one step further last December, when she won the super-G event for the second time at Val d'Isère in France. With that formidable victory she wrapped up her eleventh World Cup coup.

Victories and medals

Hilde Gerg's incredible skiing triumphs began creating waves when she made her Olympic debut at the 1994 Lillehammer Games at the age of 18. In the same year she won the World Championship.

Since then she's made a habit of picking up titles and medals with seeming ease and has been a dominant figure in women's speed events.

She has to her credit 13 World Cup wins in all alpine disciplines except the technically demanding giant slalom. At the 1998 Nagano Olympics, she became the first German to win an Olympic slalom since Rosi Mittermaier won gold in 1976.

A close shave for a brilliant career

Known popularly on the press circuit as "Wilde Hilde", the skier says her wild days are behind her. The injury has changed her outlook on life.

Gerg snapped her left tibia and fibula at the top of her boot in February 2000 while training in Austria for a super-G. The damage was so severe that she thought she might never be able to put on a ski boot again.

But six weeks later, Hilde Gerg was off her crutches and six months after her accident, she began skiing again. She also had three of the surgically-inserted screws removed, which allowed her more range of motion.

"Without a doubt I've become a stronger person because of the injury. I've learned a lot about different things. Since then I feel I've reached an equilibrium with my sport. But only after it took so much out of me," she said in one interview.

Hilde Gerg now dedicates her victories to her husband, a coach in the German ski team's youth department and who accompanies her to most of the competitions.

Erotic photographs? - "Wilde Hilde" has stuck hard

But injury or not Hilde Gerg, known on the ski circuit as a relaxed and friendly person, is unable to shake off the nickname "Wilde Hilde".

She recently appeared on a video on German television in which she imitated singer Kylie Minogue and sang her hit song, "Can't get you out of my head."

The German magazine Der Spiegel also hinted that the willowy blonde from Bavaria might be willing to drop her figure-hugging ski-suit and follow in the footsteps of former ice skater Katarina Witt and be photographed in the nude.

"It's not enough to have a beautiful face. The people always want to see more", she was reported to have told the glossy tabloid magazine, Bunte. "If I made pictures of myself, it would be different next time."

But there's disappointment in store for lascivious fans clicking to get to Hilde Gerg's website - there are just no scandalous juicy snaps there!

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