The Winter Olympics will get underway in PyeongChang, South Korea tomorrow with 92 nations competing in 15 different sports. Now, we don’t know about you, but for us half of the intrigue of the Winter Olympics is the amount of danger involved in a number of the events. And though Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards may have made us all believe anyone could do it, take it from us; the Winter Games can be a very, very dangerous place.
In general, athletes at the cold-weather games are going through events at faster speeds and spend more time in the air than those in the summer Olympics. Such is the danger at the Winter Olympics that according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), more than 1 in 10 athletes at the past two Games were injured during their events. So what are the most dangerous event at the Winter Olympics 2018?
Sport with Most Fatalities: Bobsledding
Technically speaking, athletes who compete inside a bobsled are in most danger of fatality if history is anything to go by. Though no athlete has actually been killed during the event at the Winter Games, bobsledding has resulted in the greatest number of deaths (6) among Olympians during competition or training, with the likes of the USA’s Jimmy Morgan dying during the 1981 World Championships in Italy.
It should be said, however, that bobsleighs have become significantly safer in recent years, even though they’ve become capable of much quicker speeds. Despite racing down an icy track at speeds of 80+ mph, bobsleigh these days is surprisingly towards the bottom of ‘most dangerous Winter Olympic sports’ with only 18% of competitors at the 2014 Sochi Games getting injured in some way.
Sport with Most Fatalities at the Winter Olympics: Luge
While statistically getting injured during the luge is more unlikely than pretty much any other sport at the Winter Olympics according to the IOC, it is the sport which has caused more deaths than any other event during the Games. Given that lugers can reach speeds of up to 96mph on nothing more than a glorified mini bathtub, it’s not surprising that when things go wrong, they can go very wrong.
The most recent Olympic event death occurred in 2010. Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, died in a luge crash on a practice run at the Games in Vancouver after losing control in the penultimate turn of the course. He was thrown off his luge and over the sidewall of the track, striking a steel pole at almost 90mph. He was the second competitor to lose his life during the luge at the Olympics, following Britain’s Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypecki at the 1964 Games in Innsbruck.
Sport with Most Injuries at the Winter Olympics: Freestyle Skiing
Given that the event involves skiers speeding downhill, launching themselves off a ramp, and completing mind-boggling twists and flips in mid-air, it’s hardly surprising the most dangerous sport in the Winter Olympics by far is freestyle skiing. It’s so dangerous that a whopping 49% of all athletes who competed in the sport at the 2014 Sochi Olympics were injured during the event.
In a study of freestyle skiers conducted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the most common injury types in freestyle skiing were joint and ligament injuries (43%) followed by fractures and bone stress (19%). Your knees are incredibly susceptible in freestyle skiing according to the study, with it accounting for 56% of all joint and ligament injuries. Maybe we’ll just stick with curling…
If you’re doing the ski season this year, here’s some of 2018’s must-have skiwear essentials!