Alexey Sobolev

International Ski Federation defends slopestyle’s safety

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It’s too early to comment on the amount and seriousness of injuries sustained in slopestyle skiing and snowboarding at the Sochi Olympics, an International Ski Federation (FIS) official said in response to an IOC official saying the injury rates were too high for the sports to stay in the Olympic program.

“The protection of the athletes’ health and the safety of the environment they are competing in are top priorities for the FIS and the IOC who work actively together on these important topics on an ongoing basis,” said FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis, according to insidethegames. “In regard to the slopestyle events that took place in Sochi, it would be premature to comment on the quantity and quality of injuries that occurred as the full IOC Injury and Illness Surveillance Study conducted by the IOC Medical Commission has not yet been finalized.”

Lewis said comments from the IOC’s Lars Engebretsen questioning slopestyle events’ safety were “apparently personal comments which do not represent the position of the IOC.”

“Right now the injury rate as it was in Sochi was too high to be a sport that we have in the Olympics,” Engebretsen, head of scientific activities at the IOC’s medical and scientific department, told The Associated Press last week. “That sport should change, otherwise we shouldn’t have it.”

In Sochi, Shaun White pulled out of snowboard slopestyle one day before the competition, citing injury risk. Another medal threat, Norway’s Torstein Horgmo, broke a collarbone in a training crash and withdrew. Canadian favorite Mark McMorris suffered a broken rib at the Winter X Games on Jan. 25 and won bronze in Sochi behind American Sage Kotsenburg.

Slopestyle events made their Olympic debuts in Sochi. However, greater injuries to elite athletes leading into the Olympics were suffered in another new sport, ski halfpipe.

USOC has ‘serious concerns’ about USA Curling

Russian pairs skater slices leg in worlds practice, needs 10 stitches (video)

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Russian pairs skater Yevgenia Tarasova needed 10 stitches after her partner’s skate sliced her leg in practice Wednesday.

Hours later, Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov skated to third place in the short program at the world championships in Helsinki.

“We were thinking about withdrawing because after this incident we left the ice immediately, there was a long break off the ice, we didn’t know how I would feel in skates,” Tarasova said afterward. “But when I was asked, ‘Will you skate?’ I said, ‘I will!’ And I wasn’t thinking about the pain during our performance.”

Morozov called her “a hero.”

In Thursday’s free skate, Tarasova and Morozov will be largely tasked with keeping Russia from going three straight years without world championships pairs medalists, which would be the longest drought for Soviet and Russian pairs since their dominance began in the 1960s.

Tarasova and Morozov trail Chinese leaders Sui Wenjing and Han Cong by 1.86 points and second-place Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany by .47.

Another Russian pair is in fifth place going into the free skate (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Full worlds short program results are here.

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MORE: U.S. pairs skater back from life-threatening condition

World Cup champ lands first quad cork 1800 (video)

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Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli landed what’s being touted as the first ski quad cork 1800 in a video published recently.

Ragettli, 18, is one of the leading slopestyle skiers in the world. He won the World Cup season title in 2015-16 and placed second this year, in addition to fifth- and sixth-place finishes at the last two Winter X Games.

Previously, Ragettli became the first slopestyle skier to land back-to-back triples in a full competition at the 2016 Winter X Games, according to ESPN.com.

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MORE: McMorris’ brother details life-threatening crash