There is a good chance overall World Cup ski champion

Aksel Lund Svindal

will be sidelined for the season because of a serious crash during downhill training earlier this week in Colorado.

"If you're talking about the likelihood of his coming back to ski racing this season, it's less likely than likely," Norway team doctor Ola Ronsen said yesterday.

Svindal sustained a deep gash in his groin area and underwent a 4-hour operation Tuesday to repair broken bones in his face. He also had abdominal surgery.

Svindal is expected to remain in the hospital at least another week.

In other ski news:

* Daniel Albrecht, of Switzerland, won a World Cup giant slalom for his second victory in 4 days in Beaver Creek, Colo.


* Trevor Immelman shot an even-par 72 and won the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City, South Africa, by one stroke despite three straight bogeys.

* American Bryan Saltus shot a 5-under-par 67 to win the inaugural Cambodian Open.

* Larry Nelson won the Del Webb Father-Son Challenge in Orlando, Fla., teaming with 29-year-old Josh for a two-shot victory. Nelson, a three-time major champion, also won the Father-Son Challenge 5 years ago with Drew, his oldest son.

Sport Stops

* World Cup soccer champion Italy was drawn with France, the Netherlands and Romania in what appears to be the most difficult first-round group for next year's European Championship.

* Sebastien Loeb won a fourth consecutive World Rally Championship when he finished third in the season-ending Wales Rally in Cardiff. Loeb, who needed to finish at least fifth to equal Tommi Makinen's record for consecutive titles from 1996-99, finished 1 minute, 17.8 seconds behind race winner Mikko Hirvonen.

* Russia qualified for the Beijing Olympics at the expense of the United States with a five-set victory on the final day of the men's volleyball World Cup in Tokyo. The Americans can reach the Olympics through other qualifiers. *