American skier suffers the most heartbreaking injury of the Olympics

Had it not been for an absurd sequence of rotten luck, American skier Tommy Biesemeyer would have long since made his Olympic debut. He would have made it four years ago in Sochi. Or at the very least, he would have made it Sunday in PyeongChang, the original date for the men’s downhill event at the 2018 Winter Games.

Instead, Biesemeyer, within touching distance of his dream, is heartbroken. That dream was dashed by a gut-wrenching training injury on Wednesday, one day before his first competitive run down an Olympic slope.

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American skier Tommy Biesemeyer
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American skier Tommy Biesemeyer
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 05: Tommy Biesemeyer of the United States men's alpine squad attends a press conference at the Main Press Centre during previews ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 5, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO - NOVEMBER 15: Tommy Biesemeyer looks on between training runs at the US Ski Team Speed Center at Copper on November 15, 2011 in Copper Mountain, Colorado. The venue is the only early season alpine ski racing facility providing a full-length downhill training course anywhere in the world at this time of year. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO - NOVEMBER 06: Tommy Biesemeyer of the U.S. Men's Alpine Ski Team poses for a portrait at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain on November 6, 2013 in Copper Mountain, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO - NOVEMBER 08: (L-R) Nolan Kasper, Steven Nyman and Tommy Biesemeyer take the stage during the U.S. Alpine Ski Team Announcement and pep rally at Copper Mountain on November 8, 2013 in Copper Mountain, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
VAL GARDENA, ITALY - DECEMBER 15: US Ski Team Men's Speed Team group photo - Front row: Tiitu Romar, Chris Beckmann, Sasha Rearick, Pete Anderson, Scotty Veenis; Back row: Alex Hoedlmoser, Jared Goldberg, Steven Nyman, Bryce Bennett, Travis Ganong, Andrew Weibrecht, Toni Beretzki, Tommy Biesemeyer during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup on December 15, 2016 in Val Gardena, Italy (Photo by Francis Bompard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: 2013 Alpine World Championship team member, Tommy Biesemeyer attends 51st New York Gold Medal Gala at The Ziegfeld Ballroom on November 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 05: Tommy Biesemeyer of the United States men's alpine squad attends a press conference at the Main Press Centre during previews ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 5, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
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The ankle injury forced Biesemeyer to withdraw from Thursday’s race, and you could feel the heartbreak seeping out of his words. “I wonder why this happens,” the 29-year-old said in a statement. “It is hard to not think if there is a deeper meaning to it all. You are supposed to be optimistic in times like these and say something like, ‘I will come back stronger than ever.’ But I just can’t bring myself to do it.”

He’s understandably bereft. Because it’s the third time Biesemeyer has had the Olympics ripped away from him. He was injured in the buildup to the 2010 Games. He was then seemingly on track for the 2014 Games, but tore his ACL, MCL, lateral meniscus and medial meniscus during a World Cup event.

That injury – just one of many in a career that has also included back surgery, shoulder surgery and a broken jaw – required two years of recovery, and is still the source of pain four years later. But it didn’t stop Biesemeyer from getting to PyeongChang.

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The worst crashes and wipeouts of the Winter Olympics
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The worst crashes and wipeouts of the Winter Olympics
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 14: Yuto Totsuka of Japan crashes during the Snowboard Men's Halfpipe Final on day five of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics at Phoenix Snow Park on February 14, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 14: Yuto Totsuka of Japan crashes during the Snowboard Men's Halfpipe Final on day five of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics at Phoenix Snow Park on February 14, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Short Track Speed Skating Events ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men?s 1000m Competition ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 13, 2018 - Roberto Pukitis of Latvia, J.R. Celski of the U.S. and Pavel Sitnikov, Olympic athlete from Russia, react after crashing. REUTERS/John Sibley
Alpine Skiing ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men?s Alpine Combined ? Jeongseon Alpine Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 13, 2018 - Matthias Mayer of Austria crashes during the Men's Slalom part of the Men's Alpine Combined. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "OLYMPICS BEST" FOR ALL PICTURES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Alpine Skiing ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men?s Alpine Combined ? Jeongseon Alpine Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 13, 2018 - Pavel Trikichev, an Olympic Athlete from Russia, is seen in the net after crashing during the Men's Downhill part of the Men's Alpine Combined. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Pair Free Skating ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Miu Suzaki falls as she and her partner Ryuichi Kihara of Japan compete. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Snowboarding - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women's Halfpipe Finals - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 13, 2018 - Emily Arthur of Australia crashes while competing. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Snowboarding - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women's Slopestyle Finals - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 12, 2018 - Yuka Fujimori of Japan crashes. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Snowboarding - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Men's Slopestyle Finals - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 11, 2018 - Sebastien Toutant of Canada crashes. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Luge ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Women?s Singles training ? Olympic Sliding Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Emily Sweeney of the U.S. crashes. REUTERS/Edgar Su
Cross-Country Skiing ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men?s 15km + 15km Skiathlon ? Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre ? Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Denis Spitsov, an Olympic athlete from Russia, Andrey Larkov, an Olympic athlete from Russia, and Simen Hegstad Krueger of Norway crash. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 10: Charlotte Gilmartin of Great Britain and Petra Jaszapati of Hungary crash during the Ladies� 500m Short Track Speed Skating qualifying on day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 10, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Men's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Mikhail Kolyada, an Olympic athlete from Russia, falls. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 10: Tianyu Han of China and Yuri Confortola of Italy crash during the Men's 1500m Short Track Speed Skating qualifying on day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 10, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Jussi Penttala of Finland crash lands during the Freestyle Skiing Men's Moguls Qualification at Phoenix Snow Park on February 9, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: Elise Christie of Great Britain crashes during the Ladies' 500m Short Track Speed Skating final on day four of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 13, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Canada's Patrick Chan falls while competing in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Snowboarding - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women's Halfpipe Finals - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 13, 2018 - Emily Arthur of Australia after falling in her final run. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Freestyle Skiing ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men?s Moguls Final ? Phoenix Snow Park ? Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Choi Jae Woo of South Korea falls during the race competes. REUTERS/Mike Blake
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Sho Endo of Japan crashes in the Freestyle Skiing Men's Moguls Final on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: 't Klaudia Medlova #26 of Slovakia crash lands during the Women's Slopestyle Snowboard competition at Phoenix Snow Park on February 12, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
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And once he got there, finally in the clear, ready for his debut, he spoke with pride. “To be here in Korea, it’s rewarding and a huge relief,” he said last week. “It’s been something that I had wanted for a long time.”

When he woke up Sunday morning, he was closer to Olympic competition than ever. Hours away. But nobody ever made it up to the Jeongseon Alpine Centre. The men’s downhill, for which Biesemeyer was in the U.S. lineup, was postponed, and rescheduled for Thursday.

On Wednesday, Biesemeyer injured his ankle. He was taken to a local clinic to be treated. He was released, but ruled out for the rest of the Games. Agonizing.

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