Finnish Olympic hockey star Sanni Hakala was paralyzed from the chest down and had reduced function in her arms and hands following an on-ice accident during a game last Friday (November 24), the New York Post reports.
Hakala, 26, who serves as HV71's captain and is a two-time Olympic medalist, crashed head-first into a goalpost during the second period of a Swedish Women's Hockey League game against Djurgårdens, which resulted in a neck injury. A stretcher was used to carry Hakala off the ice and the game was postponed following her injury.
Hakala was transported to University Hospital in Linköping and underwent surgery, the team confirmed in a statement.
“It is still hard to understand what has happened, that the crash into the goal post was as serious as it was, that the consequences have become so big,” Hakala wrote in a post shared on her Instagram. “Not only that I am forced to stop playing hockey, something that has been a big part of my life for many years, but that I may be forced to sit in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
“The injury I sustained last Friday after colliding with the goal post has left me paralyzed from the chest down, with reduced function in my arms and hands. That’s the reality I’m trying to land in.”
Hakala won two Olympic Bronze medals for Finland at the Pyeonchang games in 2018 and Beijing games in 2022.