|IG's road trip in Central Europe this week continued Thursday in Graz, Austria, where John Crumlish caught up with former Austrian champion Carina Hasenöhrl
IG's road trip in Central Europe this week continued Thursday in Graz, Austria, where John Crumlish caught up with former Austrian champion Carina Hasenöhrl.
Having trained for three years at the Romanian national team training center in Deva to help prepare her for the 2008 Olympics, Hasenöhrl said she is eagerly adjusting to a new phase of her life since an injury-induced retirement.
The 21-year-old Hasenöhrl is in her third year of university studies in Graz, and she already has her sights set on post-graduate studies. She is also a member of Dance Connection, a group that performs in shows and competitions. Two weeks ago Dance Connection performed in the finale at the Festival of Horses in Vienna, where they shared the spotlight with equine performers. (To view the performance, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSG-6nxMQgs.)
Relaxing over a cappuccino in a cafe along Graz's cobblestoned streets, Hasenöhrl said she has gradually reconciled the unplanned end of her gymnastics career.
She spent the last three years of her training in the Netherlands, where she suffered a serious neck injury when she landed on her head performing a double front somersault on floor exercise in training. Hasenöhrl, who attended last month's world championships in London, said seeing Colombian gymnast Jessica Gil fall the same way on the same skill in London brought back eerie memories, although Gil was not seriously injured.
Following months of rehabilitation during which Hasenöhrl wore a halo brace to stabilize her head and neck, she returned to gymnastics. She decided to retire after she tore her right anterior cruciate ligament on the dismount of her first event (balance beam) at her comeback competition.
Hasenöhrl said moving on with her life compelled her to adapt quickly to the social maturity level of her university peers.
"When I got to Graz, my mom told me, 'Do not be scared of what is going to happen because you have the social development of a 14 year old,'" Hasenöhrl said with a laugh. "She was so right! I have caught up in the last two years, especially when my friends are talking like, 'Did you see that movie?' or 'Did you see that band?' I was always like, 'No.'
"I have been able to meet some really nice people here. We have organized some evenings where they just sit me down in front of the TV and say, 'You are going to watch this movie or You are going to listen to this CD.' I was so lucky to be around those people. They helped me through a hard time, and helped me to catch up."
Coming in the January/February 2010 issue of International Gymnast magazine, IG's in-depth report on John Crumlish's Central European road trip will include more on Hasenöhrl — including the new perspective she gained on Deva after visiting last year, her struggles to reconcile with her unfulfilled gymnastics potential and her plans to ultimately make a difference in society.
Next stop on IG's Central European road trip: Ljubljana, Slovenia!