The Sochi Network

Horror on the slopes: Dangerous injuries mount up for women in Sochi

The Sochi Network

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Cheshire (right, Imago) and Komissarova (left, Reuters) in action before their respective falls

A British teenage skier has been forced to pull out of the Sochi Olympics following the latest terrible injury to take place on the Sochi slopes at the Winter Olympics.

Rowan Cheshire, 18, was knocked unconscious in a training accident on Sunday. The halfpipe skier from Stoke was diagnosed with a concussion after she hit her face on the left-hand wall of the halfpipe and had to be admitted to hospital.

She tweeted the following photo of her face following the accident:

Cheshire returned to the Athlete's Mountain Village on Monday where she was looked after by Team GB medical staff after her release from hospital before having to leave the Games entirely on Tuesday.

She had been tipped for success in the Games after taking home her first World Cup title in Calgary last month and Ski Halfpipe and Slopestyle head coach Pat Sharples, said: "We are relieved that Rowan is on the mend but naturally upset for her that she won't be able to compete in Sochi. She is only 18 years old, however, and has a bright future ahead of her."

Though Cheshire is in Sochi for the skiing, the halfpipe has already found itself under scrutiny for being dangerous and in a terrible condition.

The brother and coach of incumbent Olympic snowboard champion Torah Bright infamously branded the standard of the halfpipe last week “f*****g retarded”.

Olympic superstar Shaun White suffered a painful-looking bump directly onto his backside as he failed to make it three consecutive gold medals.

Eventual winner Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland and Japanese youngsters Ayumu Hirano (silver) and Taku Hiraoka (bronze) also had to deal with the state of the halfpipe, during which several of the participants were visibly dissatisfied with its condition.

The irony for American White was that he had withdrawn from another discipline he had entered – the slopestyle – amid concerns that its own dangerous nature would harm his chances of completing a halfpipe ‘three-peat’.

The problems with the Sochi halfpipe are just some of the safety concerns from the first week or so of Olympic action, the worst of which came in the unfortunate story that Russian ski cross racer Maria Komissarova broke her spine during training.

The 23-year-old dislocated and fractured vertebrae whilst practising, and was forced to undergo an emergency six-and-a-half hour operation.

The injury prevented her from competing on Friday, and of course has now ended her Olympic participation entirely.

"Maria Komissarova received a serious injury during training. She was urgently taken to hospital," the Russian federation said in a statement.

"Doctors carried out the necessary examination and took the decision to operate on her on the spot."

Ski cross is an event where skiers race down a mountain against each other while negotiating big-air jumps and obstacles.

It was added to the Winter Olympic programme in 2010.

And on Sunday, American Jacqueline Hernandez and Norway’s Helen Olafsen had to be carried off the boardercross course. Hernandez was whipped backwards in her fall and smacked her head against the course while somersaulting down.

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Hernandez is carried off the track on a stretcher after crashing (Reuters)

On this evidence, what do you think – is enough being done in Sochi to make the conditions safe for Olympians? Are changes even required to the Winter Olympic structure completely – not just in Russia, but beyond?

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