VIENNA (AP) — Benjamin Raich's dream of winning a fifth Olympic medal almost ended months before the 2014 Sochi Games.
The 2006 Olympic slalom and GS champion said Wednesday he's been recovering since early August from a motorbike accident, when the 175-pound bike rolled on steep terrain and landed on his right leg.
The Austrian, who also won two bronze medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, escaped with a torn muscle in his thigh.
"I have been very lucky it all ended so well," Raich said. "I have already been on skis again, and I am back to my normal strength now. However, it was not ideal to my preparations for the new season."
The 35-year-old Raich avoided a similar fate to Austrian great Hermann Maier, who missed the 2002 Olympics after a motorbike accident. Maier returned four years later to add two more medals to his collection at the Turin Games.
Raich didn't join the Austrian team for the recent preseason training weeks in Chile and New Zealand, a decision made before the motorbike accident.
"I needed time to get really fresh, physically and mentally," said Raich, who failed to get a podium finish in last year's World Cup. "I wasn't satisfied with my season. I didn't really consider retiring but I wanted to find out ... (if) I still have the right feeling and motivation to go on."
Raich won the overall World Cup in 2006, the last Austrian to achieve the feat until Marcel Hirscher won the first of his back-to-back titles last year.
Expecting tough competition to make the Austrian Olympic team, Raich will focus on his strongest disciplines, slalom and GS. However, he hasn't ruled out starts in some World Cup speed events.
Raich said his fourth Olympics in February will be his last. He said he won't decide on his immediate future before the end of the season.