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Just How Dangerous Are Winter Olympic Sports?

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Pyeongchang has witnessed its fair share of thrills and spills, but which events result in the most injuries?

Dramatic crashes, spectacular spills and high-profile injuries – if anything, a week and a half of action in Pyeongchang has proved Winter Olympics events carry with them a fairly high degree of risk.

Australian snowboarder Jessica Rich competed at the Games just a month after tearing her ACL, and revealed she had previously broken her back, and twice broken her collarbone.

Her team-mate, Cam Bolton competed in the snowboard cross with a suspected broken wrist, while Jarryd Hughes, who won silver, has had five knee operations over the course of his career.




British speed skater Elise Christie was injured in a dramatic crash in the 1500m, and snowboarder Katie Ormerod broke her heel during training.

Australian snowboarder Tess Coady also sustained an injury during training, blaming strong winds. There have been numerous other examples.

So, just how dangerous are the various Winter Olympic sports?

We don’t yet have the final injury statistics from Pyeongchang, but journal articles detailing injury records are available from the 2010 Games in Vancouver, and 2014 in Sochi.

The relatively new events of slopestyle snowboarding and skiing are both in the top five, with snowboarding having a particularly high rate of injuries at 37 per 100 athletes.

The aerials skiing event also results in a high rate of injury, particularly during the Sochi Games, where the injury rate was 48.8 per 100 athletes, a staggeringly high figure.

The reports also looked at how severe injuries were by measuring the rate of injuries resulting in recovery times greater than a week.

The moguls, slopestyle (snowboard) and cross (both ski and snowboard) all had higher rates of more severe injuries at Sochi, with all these events having a severe injury rate of 14 or higher.

Overuse injuries were also quite common in bobsledding and cross-country skiing, while contact with the ground was the most common cause of injury for slopestyle, halfpipe and cross events.

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