LYDIA Ierodiaconou faces a battle to save her career after suffering another horrendous knee injury at the Olympic Winter games this morning (AEDT).
The 24-year-old from Melbourne collapsed to the ground after failing to complete a difficult series of turns during the second round of qualifying for the women's aerials competition.
Australia's Olympic team physician Peter Braun said that Ierodiaconou had torn the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee which was reconstructed with a donor Achilles' tendon after the first injury in June 2005.
"(She'll) be having an MRI tomorrow to determine if there's any further damage, but at this stage she's torn the ACL graft in her reconstructed knee," he said.
"That means if she wants to keep going she's going to need to have another reconstruction."
Ierodiaconou was in third place after the first round of jumps but she failed to land her second and grabbed her left knee in agony while sliding down the slope.
Her knee gave way on impact.
The world No.2 in aerials lay prone in the snow before being taken on a stretcher to hospital.
Teammates Alisa Camplin and Jacqui Cooper, who have both come back from identical knee injuries, were in tears watching from the sidelines.
"Lydia's shattered," Dr Braun continued.
"Her dreams are shattered and everything that she's worked so hard for. But she's a resilient person and I'm sure with a little bit of time she'll bounce back.
"At the moment it's pretty hard for her."
Ierodiaconou let out a chilling scream when she hit the ground.
"The first scream we heard was the instantaneous pain as it tore and the second scream when she realised what she had done," Dr Braun said.
Head Australia aerials coach Todd Ossian expressed his anguish and concern for Ierodiaconou immeidately after the mishap.
He was particularly upset because Ierodiaconou had performed a superb first jump the second ill-fated leap.
"She had the highest jumping score of her life in the first round (101.52) and it felt so good I thought there was going to be no problem and Lydia was going to land her second jump," Ossian said.
"I was just about feeling as good as you could feel after a semi-final.
"I wish I could say I felt the same way now.
"Lydia is one of the greatest people I have ever met in my whole life.
"I love her to death. She works so hard she is an incredible jumper. She did everything that she could possibly do to put herself in a position to win here.
"I just feel terrible for her.
"Why did this have to happen? Lydia was saying the same thing to me at the bottom of the hill."
Ierodiaconou originally injured her knee in June last year and had the tendon in her knee replaced with that of a donor cadaver.
She won her comeback world cup event last month and was considered the Australian most likely to pick up a medal here after Camplin had the same surgery in October.
For Cooper, who looked away in horror when Ierodiaconou screamed out, it was sweet relief to have done so well.
The three-time overall world cup champion had looked patchy in training and had not made the final of a freestyle aerials competition at the Olympic Games in three prior attempts.
She would have no doubt remembered her own agony from 2002 in Salt Lake City, too, when she blew her knee in practice for the Olympic competition that year