KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Olympic officials are trying to determine why a worker on the track used for sliding sports at the Sochi Games was in the path of a speeding bobsled that crashed into him, causing leg injuries and a concussion.
A forerunning sled sent down the track to make sure conditions were suitable for two-man training crashed into the worker Thursday at the Sanki Sliding Center, an incident that could have been far worse and immediately harkened memories of the on-ice death of a Georgian luger at the Vancouver Games four years ago.
The unidentified worker broke both his legs and was flown to a nearby hospital where he underwent surgery and was said to be doing well, an Olympic official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because medical information on the worker has not been released.
Sliding officials who reviewed video of the crash saw three men working near the finish line, two of them safely scurrying over the wall as the bobsled neared. The subsequent investigation quickly revolved around suspicions that the workers could not hear any announcement that a sled was coming down the track.
One possibility was that the man, who was using a motorized air blower, simply may not have been able to hear any announcement.
We still do not know why he was in this zone and exactly what happened, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach told The Associated Press shortly after the crash.
The Sochi track was designed to be safer following the death of luger Nodar Kumarishtavili at the Whistler Sliding Center in 2010. His fatal wreck came just near the finish line, and in an eerie twist, Thursday’s mishap did as well.
China speedskater pulls off shocker
Zhang Hong pulled off a stunning victory in the women’s 1,000 meters and gave China its first gold ever in Olympic speedskating.
Zhang skated in the seventh of 18 pairs based on her middling results.
But she posted a stunning time of 1 minute, 14.02 seconds, breaking the track record and just missing the Olympic mark set by Chris Witty at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Around the rings
The balmy weather poses no major risk to the Olympics, for now, with no need to bring in stored snow at the mountain venues, Bach said.
Spring-like temperatures covered Sochi for a second straight day, reaching highs of 59 degrees both along the coast and in the mountains, raising concerns over slushy snow and ice.