Russian ski jumper fractures ribs in training accident

Russia's Mikhail Maksimochkin is evacuated after Wednesday night's training jump.

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Mikhail Maksimochkin fractured ribs in a dramatic training crash on the large hill at the Sochi Olympics and spent Wednesday night in hospital.

Still, the Russian ski jumper hasn’t ruled himself out of the Olympics just yet.

Alexander Uvarov, president of the national ski jumping federation, said he visited Maksimochkin in hospital on Thursday morning to discuss options for rehabilitation.

”Usually it takes a week to take off pain and from two to three weeks to heal the injury,” Uvarov told The Associated Press. ”He has his ribs fractures. So far, there is no indication that he might continue to compete.

”But you know, athletes sometimes will insist to go on despite their injuries. It’s up to him, his coach and doctors to make the final decision.”

Normal hill gold medal winner Kamil Stoch of Poland crashed during the same session Wednesday, leaving the hill with his left arm in a sling. He was not seriously injured and was expected to take part in the second set of training rounds on Thursday night. The gold medal final is Saturday.

Despite the accidents, an FIS official said through organizers that the facilities were safe, and they planned no changes to the setup for Thursday evening’s training.

Paramedics immobilized Maksimochkin with a neck and back brace and strapped him to a stretcher before rushing him to the hospital following the accident on Wednesday. He attempted to stand up after falling, but collapsed on the icy landing area, and officials rushed to his aid.

Among those training on the first night was Thomas Morgenstern of Austria. The three-time Olympic champion was hospitalized with skull and lung injuries after a training crash on Jan. 10, four weeks after sustaining facial cuts, bruises and a broken finger following a bad landing during a World Cup event.

The large hill ski jump at Sochi has a vertical drop of 140 meters from the starting position to the landing area, roughly equivalent to a 40-story fall in about nine seconds.

Competitors reach speeds of around 90 kilometers per hour (55 mph) and are about six meters (20 feet) off the ground during most of their descent. By the time they land, they are travelling at about 70 kph (42 mph).

Morgenstern, asked if he had concerns on the large hill at any competition, didn’t mince his words.

”I would be lying if I said no,” he said after his accident in January. ”There is a certain fear, that’s for sure. Not on the normal hill, but it’s different on the large hill.”


Associated Press writer Leonid Chizhov in Sochi, Russia, contributed to this report.