Injured Russian skier taken to Germany as crashes mount

The Russian freestyle skier who fractured her spine in the worst accident of the Winter Olympics was Sunday flown to Germany city of Munich for treatment, as the Sochi Games saw new high-speed crashes.

Maria Komissarova, 23, had undergone a six-and-half-hour operation at a hospital in Krasnaya Polyana outside Sochi, after the horrific accident in training Saturday for the ski-cross event.

But following a visit to her bedside late Saturday by President Vladimir Putin, a decision was taken to fly her to Munich for further treatment.

"Today, Maria Komissarova was transferred on a special flight for the continuation of her treatment in Germany," said the statement by Russian freestyle ski federation.

"In line with a decision by her family, she has been sent to a clinic in Munich specialised in the treatment of this kind of injury," it added.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the R-Sport news agency that Komissarova had arrived in Germany in the afternoon and would undergo a second operation there.

Mutko emphasised that like other Russian athletes at the Games, Komissarova was fully insured so there would be no problem financing her treatment.

The federation said earlier Sunday that she remained in a "serious but stable" condition. It has declined to give any prognosis or further details.

-'She really wanted the Olympics'-

The federation said that Komissarova had told Putin that her father was very worried about her condition.

"The president then decided to speak to him on the telephone. He (Putin) assured the father that doctors were doing everything so that she completely recovers," it said.

The father then flew to Sochi to visit his daughter, after which the decision was taken to transfer her to Germany

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said that it did not appear that it was "the format or the course that is necessarily the problem."

"Safety of the athletes is our number one priority," he emphasised.

Ski-cross is one of the most frenetic and risky events of the Games, where skiers race down a slope filled with jumps, obstacles and banked corners.

Her father Leonid told the Lifenews website that his daughter had switched to ski-cross after sustaining repeated injuries while alpine skiing and admitted he had grave reservations about her choice.

"When she went over to ski cross, I said to her, maybe you?ve had enough? You've already had three injuries."

"She had a good education already. She could start a normal civilised life. She said 'no Dad, I want to achieve more in life'."

"She really wanted to get to the Olympics," he said, adding that she had been a last minute addition to the squad.

-'Number of crashes not abnormal'-

Komissarova's crash was by far the most serious incident so far at the Sochi Games, which has been marked by a number of falls in the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events.

In the similar snowboard cross event, medal hopeful Helene Olafsen from Norway was taken to hospital with a knee injury.

In other freestyle disciplines, Swiss aerials competitor Christopher Lambert suffered a suspected dislocated elbow while Britain's Rowan Cheshire was stretchered off the halfpipe after being knocked unconscious.

Earlier in the Games, medal hope Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone in a fall on the snowboard slopestyle course while in the women's freestyle skiing training American Heidi Kloser broke her thighbone and tore her cruciate knee ligament.

However Adams emphasised that IOC injury data so far showed there was "nothing abnormal" in Sochi compared with the last Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010.

President Vladimir Putin (2nd R) visits Russian freestyle skier Maria Komissarova in a hospital in Sochi on February 15, 2014