Thursday, February 27, 2014
To the editor:
I write this letter as a longtime admirer of the Olympic Games. I watch avidly on television. There’s nothing I like better in the realm of athletics.
But I find myself deeply disturbed with what happened in Sochi. It seemed that each day another athlete was carried out on a stretcher. It’s evident that the games were very dangerous to the participants. New events like the half pipe, and the slope-style ski contests are done at very high speeds. Athletes catapult to execute 360-degree turns at high altitudes; then they hit the downhill portions at even faster speeds, and crashes have become all too common.
I’m not just speaking about the men’s events here. Young women in numbers suffered difficult ends. One young woman broke her back and had to have delicate and dangerous spinal surgery. Another crashed on a very fast downhill run and broke her jaw, another difficult repair. This is not normal Olympic competition.
Because Sochi is in a subtropical zone, the temperature was erratic and changed suddenly. Skiers trained for days on snow with a particular kind of surface. Then came a sudden temperature change, and with that the composition of the snow changed. Now they were performing their dangerous events on a different surface than the one they trained on. Sochi added its own dangers to already perilous stunt events. I certainly hope that the International Olympic Committee will be called to account for the makeup of the events, and the locale it chose for the winter games. In the meantime, congrats to all the skiers and all the competitors for making it through.