Crashes, injuries mount at Olympics
Doctors in Turin, Italy, probably were as deserving of a medal as any of the 2,500 Olympic participants on Monday.
No less than 11 athletes were injured at the Torino Winter Games as several crashes occurred on the ski slopes and luge track, in the centre of the halfpipe and at a skating rink.
During a women's downhill training run, Canada's Allison Forsyth tore a ligament in her left knee when she lost control of her ski and skidded into the protective fencing.
Forsyth will return to Calgary on Tuesday for surgery and begin at least six months of rehabilitation.
Forsyth insisted the course in San Sicario, Italy, is safe. Olympic organizers increased the height of several jumps and sharpened corners after some skiers complained it was "boring" following a World Cup event last year.
"I think it was a very difficult course as far as the conditions of the snow, and the conditions of the snow isn't anybody's fault but nature," Forsyth said.
Kerrin Lee-Gartner of CBC Sports attributed Monday's problems to the course conditions, saying it was icy and grippy in spots.
Austrian skier Michaela Dorfmeister, the harshest critic of the course last year, told CBC Sports that some turns are very icy and bumpy, but added "it's a very nice downhill."
Defending Olympic champion Carole Montillet-Carles of France suffered rib and back trauma on Monday, while gold-medal favourite Lindsey Kildow of the United States was airlifted to hospital after sustaining a severely bruised hip in a free-fall crash.
Montillet-Carles, 32, was one of the skiers who expressed some concern about the course on Sunday.
"There is a trick at every gate, a lot of jumps and they have put a lot of water at some points and that affects your stability," she said.
American Julia Mancuso, who finished fourth in Monday's training, couldn't understand why there were so many crashes.
"It (the course) really was no problem," Mancuso told CBC Sports. "It's a little bumpy, so maybe they were catching edges or just getting caught off guard, but it's an awesome course."
In luge, American Samantha Retrosi sustained a concussion and experienced short-term memory loss after slamming into the wall on the second run of the women's singles competition.
The 20-year-old appeared unconscious as she slid underneath her sled through at least two curves. Retrosi was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Turin, where she was expected to spend the night.
Italy's Anastasia Oberstolz-Antonova, Czech slider Marketa Jeriova and medal hopeful Natalia Yakushenko of Ukraine also crashed, while Canada's Alex Gough hurt her ankle during a shaky run in which she nearly came off her sled.
The lightning-fast track in Cesana, Italy, was reconfigured last year for safety reasons. Some of the changes involved raising the ice base between curves 16 and 17, near the site of Retrosi's accident.
Some wonder if the track is too dangerous, but current leader Sylke Otto of Germany isn't among that group.
"It's a very hard and difficult track," said the defending gold medallist. "Crashes are always possible, but it's not too dangerous. But it is a track where you have to concentrate the whole time."
Also injured on Monday was Japanese star snowboarder Melo Imai, who was carried away on a stretcher after hurting her lower back during the qualifying rounds.
During the pairs free skate, China's Zhang Dan crashed to the ice and slid into the boards after a failed throw quadruple Salchow. Dan and patner Zhang Hao, consulted with paramedics before resuming their routine. The pair received a standing ovation and were awarded the silver medal.
Figure skaters Phyo Yong Myong and Jong Yong Hyok of North Korea pulled out of the pairs final after Phyo crashed into the boards in practice.
with files from Canadian Press and Associated Press