Last season couldnt have ended any better for Quebec Citys Melanie Turgeon. After a slow start, the 27-year-old speed specialist caught fire in February, winning the World Championship downhill title. She even finished on a high note, placing fifth in the last World Cup downhill of the season.
She missed the Canadian National Championships, preferring to rest a sore back.
Then she suffered two herniated disks in her back when she fell during the Canadian teams training camp at Copper Mountain, Colorado in November, but planned to return to the World Cup circuit in January.
This week Turgeon announced that she was not quite ready to return to racing, and would be sidelined for the rest of the season. She was not thinking of retiring, she noted, and was planning to return to racing for the 2004-05 season.
"After consulting with doctors and physiotherapists, it has become clear that its impossible for me to come back in full form this winter," said Turgeon.
"Also, it wasnt safe. The risk of aggravating my injury would have been too high."
She has received cortisone shots since the injury, and is undergoing an intensive physiotherapy program and a program to strengthen her back. She will not require surgery.
"Im extremely disappointed, but now Im looking more towards the future than the past," she said.
Turgeon has battled back problems for much of her career, and previously had planned to retire after the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy. She now says she will likely stay another season after that in order to accomplish her goals.
She also injured her knee slightly in the Copper Mountain crash, but that isnt causing her any problems.
Although she wont be racing, Turgeon is hoping to give the team a boost when she flies to Europe for two weeks to travel with the World Cup team.