Worker hit by bobsled is stable after surgery
SOCHI, Russia—The Russian ice worker struck by a speeding bobsled was conscious and in stable condition Friday after undergoing surgery on two broken legs, Olympic organizers said.
International Olympic Committee and Sochi officials said they are still investigating why the worker was on the track and didn’t hear the warning signals about the sled approaching.
A forerunning sled—sent down the track to make sure conditions were suitable for two-man training—crashed into the worker Thursday near the finish line at the Sanki Sliding Center.
The unidentified worker broke both legs and was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he underwent surgery late Thursday.
“The operation went smoothly,” Sochi organizing committee spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina said Friday. “He’s conscious. He’s stable. He’s good right now.”
“We all wish him a speedy recovery,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.
Officials declined to give the man’s identity or more details of his injuries, citing issues of medical privacy.
Sliding officials who reviewed video of Thursday’s incident saw three men working near the finish line, two of them scurrying over the wall as the bobsled neared. The investigation centers on suspicions the workers could not hear any warnings that a sled was coming down the track.
One possibility was that the injured worker, who was using a motorized air blower, simply may not have been able to hear any announcement.
“We’re still looking into what exactly happened there, so it’s really premature to say why he was on the track after the alert went on,” Kosterina said. ‘So we’re still looking into that.”
The Sochi track was designed to be safer following the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumarishtavili at the Whistler Sliding Center in 2010.
Gilbert Felli, the IOC executive director of the Olympic Games, said it appeared the safety conditions of the Sochi track were not at fault.
“We’re trying to understand what did happen exactly,” he said. “It seems like there’s nothing concerning, really, the safety of the track. But we are waiting for the end of the inquiry to see exactly what did happen.”
The forerunner sled precedes training sessions and competitions to make sure things like the timing system are operational.
“According to standard procedure, a warning signal was given ahead of the forerunners’ bob beginning its run on the track,” Sochi organizers said in a statement. “The reasons for the icemaker’s presence on the track after the warning signal are currently being determined.”
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