Whistler (AFP) -- Slovenia's Petra Majdic said Wednesday's bronze in the women's sprint classic was like an Olympic "gold with little diamonds" after she suffered a bruising tumble into a rocky stream just before the start.
The 30-year-old fell three meters down a bank and onto rocks after slipping in the warm-up, but still managed to battle through four rounds to finish third behind Norways's Marit Bjørgen and Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland.
"It was Slovenia's first medal (of the Games), which is why I think I fought so hard," she said.
"I could feel the injury every time I moved and it still hurt really badly. It might have been a bronze, but for me this medal is gold with little diamonds.
"Before the first race, I was thinking 'it's over, it's over' because I could barely move.
"But I have been fighting for this for 23 years and many people were cheering for me."
Having turned down a pain-killing injection which would have hindered her movement, Majdic gritted her teeth and was in clear discomfort after each of the four rounds on the 1.4km-long course.
Majdic had a scan after the race which revealed she had not broken any ribs, but she has deep bruising and ruled herself out of Friday's 15km pursuit.
"I think it will be impossible for me to race - in a few days the injury will be much worse," she said.
"The best thing I can do is to prepare for the 30km mass start (on February 27th)."
Majdic, second in the overall World Cup rankings, said the area where she fell -- a bridge over a small stream -- was unsafe.
"The accident happened on an icy corner, the area was not secured, I slipped and the momentum carried me over the edge," she said.
"There was a big drop -- about three meters -- and I landed in a small stream with rocks. I was falling towards a big rock and I managed to turn on my side, but I still broke both poles and a ski.
"I was in pain and some volunteers helped me out. They wanted to take me to the medical center, but I yelled, 'take me to the start.'
"I was screaming in pain at the track, I think it was the first time all the national coaches were cheering for me, they could hear how much pain I was in.
"When the pain-killers wear off, it will be very painful."