Danger Quotient Soars at Olympics

Technological advances allow athletes to push themselves too far
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2010 7:15 AM CST
Shaun White goes airborne in the US Snowboarding Grand Prix finals, Jan. 22, 2010, in Park City, Utah. After the event, White admitted that he was scared to pull the trick that injured Kevin Pearce.   (AP Photo/Colin E Braley)

(Newser) – The unrelenting reports of serious injuries to would-be medal contenders have intensified an air of danger hanging over this year’s Winter Olympics. Some of the injuries have been truly chilling—like the traumatic brain injury snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered while perfecting his double cork. “I was scared,” said Shaun White, after pulling off the same trick last month. “I’ve never admitted that. I was scared to do this trick.”

The games have been adding ever riskier events for decades, like snowboard cross, which saw the death of a rider weeks after its 2006 debut. And while there’s more safety equipment than ever, technology has also allowed athletes to go ever higher and faster. The snow is now entirely man-made, injected with water to make it super-slick. “It’s not ski racing anymore,” one slalom competitor remarked, comparing the surface to “pond ice.”

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