Donna Vekic suffers mid-air fright ahead of Guadalajara victory
Donna Vekic, who will be racing the fastest woman on the planet on Sunday’s World Championships in Guadalajara, suffered an apparent mid-air fright when the team’s plane began to descend toward the city.
Vekic, who was in the front passenger seat, told CNN that she felt something pop beneath her seat. But she didn’t immediately grasp what had happened and was confused as to how serious it was.
“I was a wee bit scared for a minute because of the altitude,” the 32-year-old said.
Vekic then noticed that a man sitting next to her in the front also began to “go crazy,” and she realized that she had been knocked unconscious.
Vekic was not, however, knocked unconscious, the Hungarian-born world mountain-bike champion said. She was knocked unconscious by the turbulence of the descent, which was over just before 9 p.m. ET.
Her experience is reminiscent of 2010, when the U.S. women’s speed-skating team was in the grips of an airplane emergency. Just moments before landing in New York City, skater Jenny McCarthy says, she felt a series of vibrations.
“(I was) thinking, ‘Oh, my God,’” McCarthy said.
But after landing, she felt so ill that she spent most of the morning in the hospital, doctors later said. After spending 15 days in the hospital, she returned to competition and won nine medals.
Then there was the 1996 crash near the end of the World Cup series in Italy that killed Italian speed skater Marco Pantani. At the time, skaters were trying to catch a biplane taking off from a small airport runway when the plane’s engine suddenly burst into flames and the plane began to rotate.
It was the first time skaters had experienced a rapid, mid-air rotation since the first World Cup downhill series was held in 1911.
Vekic was not injured and is expected to compete again. But she will admit that the experience was unsettling.
“It was scary