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Worker hit by bobsled on Sochi practice run

A worker hit by a sled used to ensure safe track conditions was sent to the hospital with a concussion and leg injuries.

charlie riedel/associated press

A worker hit by a sled used to ensure safe track conditions was sent to the hospital with a concussion and leg injuries.

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.

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The unidentified worker was airlifted to a nearby hospital. There was some confusion regarding his injuries; some officials said one leg was broken, others said both were fractured.

Sliding officials who reviewed video of the incident 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 said shortly after the crash.

Given that the sled had not crossed the finish line, it probably was not braking. But it’s also unclear how fast the sled was going, since it was only a forerunner, which precedes training sessions and competitions to make sure things like the timing system are operational. Regardless of its speed, any sled at that area of the track would generate massive force.

‘‘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 released more than three hours after the accident. ‘‘The reasons for the icemaker’s presence on the track after the warning signal are currently being determined.’’

Bobsled training was held as scheduled, albeit with a delay of about 35 minutes. The inaugural Olympic luge relay also took place at the venue later Thursday night, without interruption or incident.

NBC in the ‘Zone’

NBC has borrowed an idea — and a voice — from football’s popular ‘‘Red Zone’’ broadcasts for a digital channel that tries to reflect the breadth and immediacy of the busy days at the Winter Olympics.

The ‘‘Gold Zone’’ is one of NBC’s most popular online offerings, and perhaps a model for how future Olympics will be presented on television.

On Thursday, the ‘‘Gold Zone’’ dipped into coverage of the first US men’s hockey game, a 7-1 rout of Slovakia. Shrinking pictures so two appeared side-by-side on the screen, host Andrew Siciliano simultaneously displayed Russia’s game with Slovenia, and asked viewers to vote via Twitter which game they most wanted to see.

Within an hour, ‘‘Gold Zone’’ also darted around to live speed skating, curling, and biathlon.

At one point, the screen was divided into quarters with live action in each box.

NBC tried something similar during the London Olympics in 2012 as an alternative to streams of individual sports, but without any narration, said Rick Cordella, senior vice president and general manager of NBC Sports Digital. A few months ago, the company decided to fully embrace its inspiration by contacting Siciliano.

Appeal denied

Argentine skier Maria Belen Simari Birkner lost her legal bid to compete at a fourth Olympics alongside her sister and brother.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport says it had no jurisdiction to judge an appeal by Simari Birkner against her non-selection on Jan. 20 by Argentina’s Olympic team and ski federation.

A CAS panel says its Olympic authority began Jan. 28, though Simari Birkner’s case ‘‘would have failed’’ on its merits.

The court says she alleged discrimination ‘‘on the basis of her family affiliation.’’

Simari Birkner’s sister Macarena and brother Cristian Javier are both competing in Alpine races at the Sochi Olympics wearing vivid black and white polka-dot race suits.

Cristian Javier Simari Birkner carried Argentina’s flag at the Opening Ceremony.

Naked truth

A Lebanese Olympic skier depicted in revealing photographs and a video that circulated on the Internet said her country’s sports officials are ‘‘on my side.’’

Three years ago, Jacky Chamoun posed for a calendar photo shoot. Behind-the-scenes footage recently was posted online, and Lebanon’s sports and youth minister reportedly ordered an investigation.

But Chamoun said in an interview most people have been ‘‘supporting me and defending me.’’

Youssef Chamel Khalil, the administrator of Lebanon’s Olympic Alpine team, said ‘‘there is no problem’’ for Chamoun, and she will compete in the Sochi Games.

‘‘It’s OK. In Lebanon, there is a little bit another way to think,’’ Khalil said. ‘‘Lebanon is a country of so many cultures.’’

The 22-year-old Chamoun is scheduled to race in the slalom Feb. 21.

She said the footage that found its way onto the Internet was never supposed to surface. She has spoken about the video with photographer Hubertus Von Hohenlohe, the German prince and skier who is competing in his sixth Olympics for Mexico. She said he apologized.

‘‘He’s a really good friend. It’s not his fault,’’ said Chamoun, who is from Beirut and lives in Geneva.

Zetterberg ailing

Sweden’s men’s hockey captain Henrik Zetterberg missed practice Thursday to rest a herniated disk in his ailing back. Zetterberg stayed at the Olympic Village while the Swedes practiced for Friday’s game against Switzerland. Sweden team doctor Bjorn Waldenberg said Zetterberg will decide whether he can play Friday after consulting with the NHL’s doctors in Sochi. Zetterberg had anti-inflammatory treatment on his back . . . Mikhail Maksimochkin of Russia fractured two ribs in a dramatic training crash on the large hill and spent Wednesday night in a hospital. He won’t attempt to qualify for the individual final.

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