Despite recent setbacks, some Canadian athletes are shaking off their injuries and taking the next few days to rest before the start of the 2014 Olympic Games.
But Canada’s Sochi medal predictions may suffer as some gold medal hopefuls are still recovering from recent injuries.
While snowboarder Mark McMorris said he was in “great spirits” after suffering from a fractured rib on Jan. 25, competing in the slopestyle event in Sochi will likely be very painful for the Olympic gold-medal favourite.
The 20-year-old Regina native caught his snowboard on the lip of a rail and landed on the bar, then slid down on his right side before hitting the snow during his slopestyle event at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.
“The biggest challenge for these athletes is that they’re working so hard, they’re pushing the limits of what humans are capable of,” physiologist Greg Wells told CTV’s Canada AM.
And for Morris, that “requires a lot of oxygen, and that means he has to breathe a ton…that puts all the stress on the ribs.”
Morris won’t be the only injured Canadian athlete competing in Sochi. Defending Olympic gold medalist and World Champion Maelle Ricker broke her wrist on Jan. 28 while training in Aspen.
The snowboarder underwent surgery for a compound fracture in her left forearm and is now wearing a half-cast. “Because her event is snowboard, she should be fine and able to compete,” Wells said.
Slopestyle champion Kaya Turski, another gold medal hopeful, tore her ACL on a training run about six months ago. Doctors replaced Turski’s torn ligament with synthetic material, and on Jan. 26 she captured her fourth Winter X Games gold medal in women’s slopestyle.
And while women’s ski jumping will be making its debut at Sochi, Alexandra Pretorius was forced to withdraw from the Games after suffering from an ACL injury.
“She’s out of the Olympics, but she’s only 18 years of age, so we’re hoping we can see her again,” Wells said.
Other recently-injured athletes who will be competing in Sochi include biathlete Brendan Green, who suffered from a herniated disc in his back, and speed skater Brianne Tutt, who broke her collarbone, skull, neck and ribs during practice only 12 months ago.
“There are some incredible stories,” Wells said. “We’re in for a fun ride for the next few weeks.”
In its Sochi Olympic projections, The Associated Press calculated 13 gold medals and 31 medals overall for Canada.