Russian skicross racer has surgery after crash

OSSIAN SHINE AND ALEXEI ANISHCHUK
Last updated 07:05 16/02/2014
Maria Komissarova
Reuters
BAD INJURY: Russian Maria Komissarova was taken into surgery after a crash during practice for the women's skicross racing.

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Russian Olympic skicross racer Maria Komissarova underwent six-and-a-half hours of spinal surgery on Saturday (local time) after breaking her back in a Sochi 2014 training crash.

The 23-year-old had a metal implant inserted and surgeons will not know how successful the operation has been for three or four days.

Her condition remains serious but she is stable, the Russia Freestyle Skiing Federation said, adding that she was likely to be taken to a Moscow hospital or abroad when it is possible to move her. Her mother, Maria, is due to arrive in Sochi tomorrow.

The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin would visit Komissarova, who was now conscious, while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in a statement: "Our thoughts are with the athlete and the family".

Komissarova suffered the injury during training at the PSX Olympic skicross venue at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. She was taken to Krasnaya Polyana Hospital Number 8, which was specially built for the Olympics, where doctors decided to operate.

"During one of her training runs, Maria injured her spine," the freestyle team's head of press Mikhail Verzhba said. "It is a serious injury."

Verzhba said the athlete had received medical assistance almost immediately.

The 1200 metre skicross course at Extreme Park is a medium-pitch slope which features cambered turns, gap jumps, drops and flat sections.

The skiers race down the course in groups of four in a test of speed, skill and aggression with the first across the line the winner.

"You will never be able to exclude any kind of risk," IOC President Thomas Bach said.

"We feel very sorry for the athlete. We hope that the operation will be successful and that she will be back."

Bach said that, as he understood it, the accident had nothing to do with conditions at the Extreme Park.

"The first information is that it was nothing to do with the infrastructure, the snow conditions. It was in a training session and this unfortunate incident happened.

"Our thoughts are with the athlete."

TRAGIC PALL

Komissarova's accident comes two days after a track worker at the Feb. 7-23 Olympics was struck by a bobsleigh, suffering two broken legs.

The worker was hit by the "forerunner", which is sent down the track ahead of the official competitors to check for safety.

Russian ski jumper Maksim Maksimochkin was taken away on a stretcher on Wednesday night after crashing during practice on the large hill. He spent the night in hospital and was diagnosed with two fractured ribs.

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On the slopes, Liechtenstein's medal hope Tina Weirather missed the downhill and super-G after suffering a heavy bruise when she fell in downhill training on Sunday. She was not entered in the combined.

Slovenia's Rok Perko broke his nose in a fall in men's downhill training, while French skier Brice Roger tore his anterior cruciate ligaments in the same training session and is out for six months.

Canadian Marie-Michele Gagnon dislocated her shoulder after straddling a gate in the super-combined on Monday. She returned for the super-G today but skied out.

In figure skating, Jeremy Abbott slammed into the barriers after falling on his opening jump. He lay grimacing in pain for almost a minute but then finished his programme.

Komissarova's crash, though, marks the first major athlete accident of the Sochi Games.

Four years ago, a tragic pall hung over the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver when Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died in a crash during a training run on the day of the opening ceremony.

- Reuters

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