Notes: Ski racer fractures spine during training

Russian racer Maria Komissarova had a 6½-hour spine operation and was visited by President Vladimir Putin.
mikhail klimentyev/reuters
Russian racer Maria Komissarova had a 6½-hour spine operation and was visited by President Vladimir Putin.

Olympic skicross racer Maria Komissarova of Russia underwent a 6½-hour operation on her fractured spine following a training accident Saturday.

Russian freestyle ski federation spokesman Mikhail Verzeba said Komissarova fractured the 12th dorsal vertebrae in her lower-middle back and was taken to a hospital near the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park for emergency surgery.

‘‘The operation is over . . . it’s been successful,’’ Verzeba said.


The International Olympic Committee was monitoring the situation. President Thomas Bach said, ‘‘Our thoughts are with the athlete and we wish her a full and speedy recovery.’’

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The national freestyle ski federation issued a statement later saying a team of specialists participated in the surgery to insert a metal implant in Komissarova’s spine.

The federation said Komissarova was conscious, and described her condition as ‘‘grave’’ but stable, adding that it was likely she'd need further surgery within weeks.

The 23-year-old Komissarova was practicing for next Friday’s contest on a sunny morning on the 1,200-meter course, which has nine banked turns and 25 jumps.

Jenny Wiedeke, spokeswoman for the International Ski Federation, said the accident occurred on a series of jumps near the top of the course and that Komissarova fell while exiting the third jump.


She was taken by sled to the medical services tent, and from there to the hospital. Team doctors decided to do the surgery immediately instead of transporting her down to Sochi.

Komissarova is ranked 33d in the World Cup standings and recovered from a leg injury last year to qualify for the Olympics. Her best World Cup finish was a second-place at a race in Switzerland in 2012.

Shiffrin ready to race

So far, slalom world champion Mikaela Shiffrin has been watching the Sochi Olympics on TV from afar. Now she’s in town and eager to head down a ski slope herself.

The 18-year-old American will make her Olympic debut in Tuesday’s giant slalom. Her best event, the slalom, is Friday.

The youngest women’s slalom champion in Winter Games history was Italy’s Paoletta Magoni, who was 19 at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.


‘‘There will definitely be more nerves, because this means something to the rest of the world, so that also makes it mean something more to me,’’ Shiffrin said Saturday, a day after arriving in Russia.

Slope a ‘disaster’

How to know when an Alpine skiing course is hard: When only 31 of 49 athletes who start can even finish the course.

Soft snow, steep angles, and tough curves — all common complaints Saturday at the women’s super-G course during the gold-medal run.

‘‘There is no snow at the bottom, it’s not funny anymore. This is a disaster, it was a shame for everybody,’’ said Switzerland’s Laura Gut, who finished fourth.

Only one of the first eight starters finished, leading the rest of the skiers to change their strategy. For many, adjusting still didn’t work.

‘‘Everybody was crashing around, it’s difficult to stay on your skis — you are constantly losing them,’’ Gut said. ‘‘I don’t know if this is the best way to show off our skiing. It’s not a race. You are just trying to come down.’’

Chan unsure of future

Patrick Chan didn’t get what he came to Sochi for, that elusive Olympic men’s figure skating gold medal that Canada never has taken home. Now he’s at a crossroads in his career at the age of 23. Chan is uncertain if he will continue competitive skating. Next up on the schedule after he came in second to Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu at the Sochi Games would be the world championships, which Chan has won the last three years. He was noncommital Saturday about going next month to Saitama, Japan. ‘‘I have won three world championships and I don’t know if I could go to another one now,’’ Chan said.

No positive tests yet

With no positive tests recorded more than halfway through the Olympics, the IOC believes the stringent anti-doping net put in place for the Games has scared cheaters away. Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC medical commission, said he was not surprised. He said the beefed-up program of targeted pre-games and pre-competition testing — as well as the storage of doping samples for 10 years — was working as a strong deterrent . . . The International Olympic Committee says it has been assured that a Russian activist’s three-year prison sentence was not related to his criticism of the environmental impact of Olympic construction in Sochi. The IOC had asked for clarification after Yevgeny Vitishko was sentenced this week for spray-painting a fence on a property in a forest where construction is banned. Vitishko had been critical of the Olympic construction projects in Sochi and Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to press Russian authorities to free him.