They’ve been described as the craziest athletes at the Sochi Paralympics and theres already been plenty of carnage at the sit skiing.
THEY’VE been described as the craziest athletes at the Sochi Paralympics.
All it takes is one slight bump to start in motion a fall that quickly descends into out-of-control chaos for sit skiers who are locked into a chair attached to a ski and are hurtling down the mountain at over 100km/h.
The downhill race – where competitors start at the top of a steep, winding mountain and it’s fastest to the bottom wins – was marred by repeated carnage on Saturday when 11 of the 27 competitors in their mono-skis failed to finish.
Some were lucky and skid off course before sliding sideways into a fence.
Others like American Tyler Walker, Briton Anna Turney, Mexican Arly Velasquez and German Franz Hanfstingl fell violently, bounced repeatedly off the ground and catapulted high into the air before finally coming to rest hundreds of metres from where the drama started.
In some cases the ski snapped from their chair and equipment worth thousands of dollars was sprawled across the snow like a train wreck.
Walker cartwheeled several times before coming to a stop where he lay motionless before medical staff arrived and he was airlifted from the mountain in a helicopter.
The US team later announced the 27-year-old, who was born with lumbar sacral agenesis and had both legs amputated at the knee at the age of four, was stable and conscious.
He later tweeted:
Im ok! I dont remember crashing but I didnt break anything. Thanks so much for all the support, it means… http://t.co/xdJIFRT3b0
mdash; Tyler Walker (@tbone_walker) March 8, 2014
Great Britain’s Anna Turney, who is paralysed from the waist down, remarkably emerged from her high-speed crash at Rosa Khutor with little more than a swollen lip.
“This is an extreme downhill damn it and I really wanted to win it,” Turney said.
“I really wanted it and at the end of the day I got my line slightly wrong, then it was so bumpy and I just popped out,” Turney said.
“It’s challenging and certainly where I crashed that was bumpy, but I think the course guys have worked really hard and made it as safe as they could.
“I don’t think it was unsafe, it was challenging.
“There’s a knuckle you bounce over and then it’s quite like undulating snow, ice really, and everyone is like ‘oh, it’s so dangerous’ but it’s a downhill at the end of the day.”
Turney barely had time to think when her sit ski kicked into the air and she was tumbling downward.
“I was just thinking ‘go straight, go straight, go straight’ and trying to be on a flat ski.
“I came over that jump, I landed on one edge and bounced onto the other edge, I felt like I was thrown around a bit and suddenly I was falling because it’s very quick – it’s so annoying.”
Some sit-skiers have no legs while others have little or no function in them and they are strapped into a large seat that sits inches off the snow with only their arms free to hold out-riggers in the hope they can stay on course.
Austrian Matthias Lanzinger was a world class able-bodied skier before losing his left leg in a racing crash and is now at the Sochi Paralympics where he competes in the standing class with a prosthetic.
Days before competition began Lanzinger said he was in awe of the sit skiers.
“For me in disabled sport, all the guys are heroes,” Lanzinger said.
“But the sitting category are all absolutely crazy and heroes.”
Australia has one sit skier in its team in Sochi, Victoria Pendergast, who will compete in the slower but more technical slalom event this week.