Olympians show their bravery and throw caution to the wind

Alexander Bushroe
Compared with their summer counterparts, the winter competitions feature athletes traveling at dizzying speeds or reaching towering heights in pursuit of Olympic glory.
Alexander Bushroe

It doesn't take long while watching the Winter Olympics to come to the realization that the majority of the sports and events on display skew toward the more dangerous end of the scale. Compared with their summer counterparts, the winter competitions feature athletes traveling at dizzying speeds or reaching towering heights in pursuit of Olympic glory.

There are some exceptions, of course. As interesting as I find curling to be, it would be quite a stretch to refer to the game as one that poses any sort of safety risks to its participants. But, by and large, the events at the Winter Games to pose a higher risk of injury to the athletes involved.

Perhaps this is the main factor in my reticence to get involved in most of these sports. I prefer to enjoy the lugers fly down the track at 140km/h, for example, as a spectator rather than as a teammate or opponent. I just don't have that adventurous streak; danger is not, as it happens, my middle name.

I do find the courage of the competitors in these events inspiring. There is something to be said about the willingness to put aside any concerns about safety or fear of misfortune and train incessantly for the chance to take home the ultimate prize. Let us not forget that these athletes don't only perform high-flying midair somersaults or bullet-speed sled runs on merely one occasion during the games. They take the risk of injury each time they gear up for training or practice.

Like modern-day gladiators, they throw themselves into the arena with one purpose – to be victorious in battle.

With little regard for their own safety, the competitors set forth with one definitive purpose – to win gold for their country. They exhibit unquestionable bravery as they enter into daring events that comprise the Olympic competitions which are anarchic displays of boundless courage. They appeal to the innate sentiment that exists within us all.

I have a deep sense of respect for their chutzpah. Personally, I recoil at the notion of participating in sports in which the risk of injury is eminent.

Already at the 2022 Winter Games, multiple competitors have sustained injuries in their pursuits of Olympic gold.

Some of the athletes endured injuries prior to the Games themselves. Rina Yoshika, a snowboarder from Japan, is unable to compete at the Beijing 2022 due to an unfortunate incident at their training runs. Despite previous accomplishments, we should all be sympathetic to their plight and the plight of all athletes who made it to the Olympics but were injured just before competition during trial runs. It's quite a brutal hand to be dealt.

So which of the events pose the greatest danger to the athletes involved?

Short-track speed skating ranks in the top 10, if not simply for obvious reasons. The shorter the track, the more likely a disastrous tumble will occur. It's for this reason that entrants are required to wear more a heavier degree of protective equipment. These regulations keep the sport further down on this danger list.

Luge ranks higher on the danger docket, as a sport in which the racers descend the icy tracks at faster-than-highway speeds. In fact, the last Winter Olympian to unfortunately perish at the Games was Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia, who died during a trial run in Vancouver, Canada, in 2010.

Alpine skiing is an activity that poses plenty of danger as well. A hasty descent down the slopes combined with the urge to outpace the competition, the downhill racing sport often results in trips to the medical tent, or worse. This year alone, Alpine skiers Nina O'Brien and Dominik Schwaiger suffered injurious misfortune, with Schwaiger injuring his arm and O'Brien suffering a serious break to her left leg.

Freestyle skiing, though differing in nature from alpine skiing, also poses a great risk of danger to its competitors. It isn't difficult to see why; despite the heretofore brilliant performances by China's Gu Ailing and others, the sport's inherent danger and risk of injury is clear. Flying through the air and flipping and spinning around whilst on skis is an activity reserved for the steel-nerved.

Let us appreciate the truly daring spirit of these Winter Olympic athletes. I know they've got greater intestinal fortitude than I do!


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