Home » Swiss bobsled athlete has surgery after being thrown to ice and hit by sled in training crash

Swiss bobsled athlete has surgery after being thrown to ice and hit by sled in training crash

Swiss bobsled athlete has surgery after being thrown to ice and hit by sled in training crash

ALTENBERG, Germany (AP) — Swiss bobsled athlete Sandro Michel is recovering from emergency surgery, his team said Wednesday, after a training crash that has some sliders considering whether it’s safe or appropriate to compete in World Cup races this weekend.

Michel was in a four-man sled piloted by Michael Vogt when it crashed Tuesday during training for this weekend’s World Cup races in Altenberg. Michel is the brakeman, meaning he is the person in the back of the sled.

He was tossed from his seat in the crash and was on the ice when the sled — after it came to a stop — starting sliding back down the icy chute. The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation said Michel was “run over by the bobsleigh which was uncontrollably sliding back from the finish area.”

Michel lost consciousness in the crash and was airlifted from the track to a hospital about 75 miles (120 kilometers) away in Dresden because of the severity of injuries he suffered to his leg, hip, thigh and chest, team and IBSF officials said.

It is not known how fast the sled was going when it crashed. Some sleds during training sessions on Tuesday were reaching speeds of about 80 mph (129 kph).

The crash left athletes from many countries shaken and plans were being put together for a meeting on Friday to discuss safety concerns — including why there were no mechanisms in place to try and stop the sled when it began sliding back toward Michel. Training was to continue as planned for the rest of the week and the IBSF said racing would take place this weekend as planned.

“If this was one of my teammates I certainly would not want to be competing in a World Cup like everything is normal,” British bobsledder Greg Cackett wrote on social media. “I think the race should be canceled, our friends in the Swiss team should be allowed time to come to terms with what’s happened, IBSF and global tracks should communicate what they’re going to do about this and we can all refocus on world champs.”

Bobsled and skeleton’s world championships start later this month in Winterberg, Germany. This weekend’s Altenberg races are the last World Cup events prior to the world championships; there is one last World Cup weekend coming in mid-March to Lake Placid, New York.

The Swiss team said Vogt “suffered a severe concussion and bruises” and push athletes Dominik Hufschmid and Andreas Haas also had slight injuries.

“Swiss Sliding is deeply saddened by this accident and wishes Sandro Michel, Michael Vogt, Dominik Hufschmid, and Andreas Haas a speedy and full recovery,” the team said in a statement.

“The federation has left it up to the other Swiss teams in Altenberg to decide whether they want to participate in today’s remaining training sessions and the races over the weekend.”

Safety has been a major talking point in sliding sports for years, particularly after some high-profile incidents such as the luge death of Georgia’s Nodar Kumaritashvili in a training run hours before the opening ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Canadian bobsledder Chris Spring crashing into the roof of the Altenberg track and suffering severe puncture wounds in 2012, and a 2021 incident where Polish luger Mateusz Sochowicz was seriously injured when he crashed into a metal gate that was inexplicably blocking the track during a training run in China.

Vogt and Michel are an experienced team who placed fourth at the 2022 Beijing Olympics in two-man bob and took bronze at the world championships last year.

The pair won a World Cup race in December and are third in the season-long standings. Vogt’s four-man bob crew is fourth in that discipline’s World Cup standings.


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