Olympics: Crashes and injuries, a winter's tale

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia - While the Sochi Olympics produced numerous thrills and spills, with dreams made and others shattered, it was also a painful time, physically, for many competitors.

Crashes, injuries and with athletes stretchered off pistes were a common feature of these Games, not least at the Extreme Park, where snowboarding and freestyle skiing called home these past two weeks.

Accidents are not unusual in these sports and almost all athletes have been involved in crashes and suffered injuries, but the reason they have been under the spotlight is because sometimes they have proved fatal.

Two years ago, Canadian Sarah Burke was killed after a training crash in Park City, Utah.

Here AFP Sports looks at the most dramatic of the crashes over the Sochi Winter Olympics:

Maria Komissarova (Russia) - freestyle skiing

Perhaps the worst accident of these Games befell Russian ski cross rider Komissarova, who fractured her spine after a crash in training on February 15. Komissarova underwent a six and a half hour operation in which a metal implant was inserted into her spine to replace a broken vertebrae. She was later flown to Munich for more surgery.

Yuki Tsubota (Canada) - ski slopestyle

While most of the worst crashes came in training as athletes tried to get used to unfamiliar courses, Tsubota's accident came in competition. She came up just short on a jump and failed to make it over the lip of a slope, meaning she hit the flat ground hard rather than hitting the slope running. Her knees were jarred into her face, resulting in a broken jaw.

Torstein Horgmo (Norway) - snowboard slopestyle

Horgmo's injury was the one that started it all off, several days before the Games even began. He crashed on a rail feature on the slopestyle course and was stretchered from the piste with his neck in a brace. After being taken to hospital, he was diagnosed with a broken collarbone. His accident gave impetus to the many voices complaining about the slopestyle course and how dangerous it was. Improvements and changes were made and by the time the competition itself came around it was largely receiving praise.

Heidi Kloser (USA) - moguls Kloser was a medal hopeful in the women's moguls competition but that all ended in a training crash. It was a dramatic one too on the demanding course with Kloser suffering a broken thigh bone as well as a torn cruciate knee ligament. She wasn't the only one to suffer on that course as Japan's world championship silver medallist Miki Ito also pulled out following a training crash.

Mikhail Maksimochkin (Russia) - ski jumping

It is perhaps surprising how few incidents there have been in ski jumping given that competitors leap off a jump and travel more than 100 metres through the air. As it was, that was the undoing of Maksimochkin, who was taken to hospital after breaking his ribs in a fall.

- It's not just the athletes who were in the wars, though, as even workers preparing the venues have also put themselves in harm's way. One such was a bobsleigh track worker who broke both his legs after being hit by the forerunner sled.