Three Swedish skiers competing in this weekend’s women’s World Cup races helped save a course volunteer’s life before their first downhill training session in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Lisa Hoernblad, who gave the stricken man first-aid after he suffered what she thought was a heart attack, followed up by finishing second in Thursday’s run.
“It was all about keeping him alive till we got to the top,” Hoernblad told The Associated Press on Friday. “It’s a pretty crazy situation when you are stuck for 10 minutes in a gondola like that.”
Hoernblad was accompanied by teammates Lin Ivarsson and Helena Rapaport when the man, believed to be a German volunteer, suddenly collapsed during the gondola ride up the mountain. Another man was also in the gondola.
“He was not breathing. I could tell it was a heart attack,” the 22-year-old Hoernblad said. “My first reaction was to try and keep the heart going, me and the other guy. But you could see he got the air when we pumped the heart.”
Crammed in the gondola up to start of the almost 3-kilometer (1.8-mile) Kandahar course, the occupants had little room to maneuver.
“It was so tight in the gondola as we had all our skis and gear. We had to hold him up as we pumped his heart,” Hoernblad said.
Ivarsson tried calling their coaches as they frantically tried to reach anyone who could help, and Rapaport helped hold up the man as Hoernblad and the other man pumped his heart. Eventually, they made it to the top of the course.
“We dragged him out of the gondola and I continued to pump. Some minutes later the Austrian doctor arrived and he kind of took over. We were going to inspection and our coaches dragged us away,” Hoernblad said.
She said she heard the man, whom she believed to be about 60, was working with the course’s medical team.
“We saw the ambulance helicopter arriving,” Hoernblad said. “We heard that he was taken to the hospital and that he was alive. That was enough.”
Hoernblad went on to finish just behind Thursday’s leader, Rapaport was 18th and Ivarsson finished about 3 seconds off the pace.
“Later,” Hoernblad said, “we heard he had an operation on his heart and that everything was good.”