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The importance of sports medicine for the Sochi Games
  1. Kathrin Steffen1,2,
  2. Lars Engebretsen1,2
  1. 1Department of Sports Medicine, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Department of IOC Medical & Scientific, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kathrin Steffen, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, PB 4014 Ullevål Stadion, Oslo 0806, Norway; kathrin.steffen{at}

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Many of us winter sport enthusiasts will still remember the last Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver 2010: fantastic organisation and weather—a real ‘folk festival’ with street parties up in Whistler and in downtown Vancouver. However, we also remember a high number of injuries and tears of disappointment among athletes in the spectacular snowboard and ski freestyle races at Cypress Mountain specifically.

In these cross-disciplines on snow, inspired by motocross, athletes compete in heats of four and race head-to-head at high speed through jumps and obstacles of varying difficulty. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) injury surveillance during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games reported snowboard and freestyle cross as high-risk disciplines, and women were specifically prone.1 In many cases, these injuries prevented the athlete from further participation in the Olympics.

Snowboard and freestyle are under close scrutiny

What are the IOC and the International Winter Federations doing to make the sports safer? Injury reports from the last skiing and snowboarding World Cup seasons indicate that knee and head injuries are the most common injuries.2 Catastrophic head injuries, such as skull fractures or cerebral haemorrhages, are rare but despite that there were …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.