Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, currently second in the overall World Cup standings, has been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a ruptured knee ligament, the Norwegian ski federation announced Saturday.
The 28-year-old defending overall World Cup champion sustained the injury in a crash while doing super-G training in the Austrian resort of Hinterreit. He was hospitalised in Innsbruck where the ligament damage was discovered.
"It's what I feared but hoped it wasn't," said Kilde.
"I'm in good hands and I have a lot of people around me with a lot of experience, so it'll be fine.
"It's all the more annoying that I am in the best form of my life, but I'll come back strong."
Kilde won his first overall title ahead of France's Alexis Pinturault after the final races of last season were scrapped in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the absence of now-retired Marcel Hirscher of Austria, this season had promised to be another battle royale between Kilde and Pinturault for the crystal globe.
The Frenchman currently sits atop the overall standings with 718 points, ahead of Kilde (560) and Switzerland's Marco Odermatt (501).