One of the biggest risks of the Olympics is injury. Any athlete at any sports competition is of course prone to injury, but these Games are different.
The physical intensity of such internationally-driven competitiveness, matches no other. There is no doubt that the caliber of performance is higher than ever. And with high prowess, comes high risk.
Injuries have already begun at the 2022 Beijing Games. Here’s a list of Olympic athletes who have been injured since the Games’ kickoff:
Nina O’Brien, Alpine Skiing
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The 24-year-old American alpine skier crashed early Monday morning during the second run of the women’s giant slalom event. Towards the end of her run, O’Brien fell, skidded into one of the gates and slid into the finish area. She was down for several minutes, yet alert and responsive. The event was delayed as she was stretchered off and tended to by medical personnel to address her injuries.
In an update Monday night, the U.S. Ski Team announced O'Brien had badly broken her left leg, sustaining a compound fracture of her tibia and fibula. She was taken after the crash to a hospital in Beijing, where an "initial stabilization procedure was successfully performed by local doctors," and she will return to the U.S. for further evaluation.
"Nina would like to express her gratitude to all of the people who assisted her so quickly in the finish area at the race, and especially to the doctors and nurses at the hospital who have taken such great care of her," the U.S. team included in the Twitter statement.
Brianna Decker, Hockey
The American forward collided with a player from Finland during their game on Thursday. She suffered a leg injury after being tripped from behind by Ronja Savolainen 9:32 into the first period. Decker's cries of pain were audible throughout the area, and medical professionals immediately scurried onto the ice to carry her out via stretcher. She received prompt medical attention, including a CT scan and MRI, right within the hockey arena.
Marin Hamill, Freestyle Skiing
Team USA's Martin Hamill suffered a scary crash during her second run of the qualifying round for women's slopestyle skiing. Medics came out to attend to Hamill for about 10 minutes before she was taken off in a stretcher to a waiting ambulance. She could be seen holding her right leg, but the exact nature of her injury was unclear.
While Hamill still managed to qualify for the finals after a solid first run, her ability to compete moving forward in these Games is in serious doubt.
Dominik Schwaiger, Alpine skiing
The 30-year-old German alpine skier lost control and fell on his back, sliding down the mountain into the safety nets during the men’s downhill on Sunday. He was taken off the mountain in a toboggan with an injury to his left arm.
Park Jang-hyuk, Short track speed skating
The South Korean skater injured his left hand in a collision during the 1,000m event, quarterfinal heat. Jang-hyuk was in second place when Pietro Sighel of Italy clipped his skate from behind him and caused him to fall. As he slid toward the wall, Wu Dajing of China, who was trailing the group, hit Jang-hyuk's hand with his skate. The skater was seen grabbing his left hand in pain. Medical personnel rushed the ice to assist.
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And here’s a list of notable Olympic athletes who were hurt prior to the Games official start:
Rina Yoshika, Snowboarding
The 22-year-old Japanese snowboarder will not be competing in the 2022 Games in the slopestyle competition, after suffering an intense crash during a training run prior to the Games. The No. 12-ranked snowboarder in the world, badly injured her back after falling hard on a jump during a practice session Thursday. She is confirmed to have suffered a spinal injury, but is not paralyzed.
Mateusz Sochowicz, Luge
This Polish luger suffered a terrible leg injury on the same Beijing track, just three months prior to the start of the Games. He fractured his left kneecap after crashing into a metal barrier during a practice run in November 2021. Sochowicz, known as “The Seagull,” did not medal in this year’s competition, after placing 27th in the singles runs, however he is commended for even being back on the same track.
Kai Owens, Freestyle skiing
The 17-year-old American freestyle skier injured her left eye during a training run on Tuesday, before the Olympics began. Owens’ injury was evident, seeing that her eye is still swollen, but she still competed during Sunday’s moguls finals. She was one of four other American skiers to advance to the second round of the moguls finals. Unfortunately, Owens was bumped out, along with Team USA’s Hannah Soar.
Alex Deibold, Snowboarding
At 35 years old, Alex Deibold was hoping to make his way back to the Olympic slopes, but an injury kept him from doing so. The 2014 bronze-medalist suffered from a head injury in November 2021 after falling during a qualifying run at an SBX World Cup.