Russian skicross racer has successful surgery

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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - Olympic skicross racer Maria Komissarova of Russia underwent a 6½-hour operation on her fractured spine following a training accident Saturday.

Russian freestyle ski federation spokesman Mikhail Verzeba said Komissarova fractured the 12th dorsal vertebrae in her lower-middle back and was taken to a hospital near the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park for emergency surgery.

“The operation is over … it’s been successful,” Verzeba said.

The International Olympic Committee was monitoring the situation. President Thomas Bach said, “Our thoughts are with the athlete and we wish her a full and speedy recovery.”

The Russian presidential website said Vladimir Putin visited Komissarova Saturday night in the hospital where she underwent surgery.

Medical staff briefed Putin on the surgery and further treatment and the president “wished her a speedy recovery,” the statement said.

Putin also called the skier’s worried father and told him “doctors will do everything possible for her recovery.”

The statement gave no update on Komissarova’s condition.

The national freestyle ski federation issued a statement after the surgery saying a team of specialists inserted a metal implant in Komissarova’s spine.

The federation said Komissarova was conscious, and described her condition as “grave” but stable, adding that it was likely she’d need further surgery within weeks.

The 23-year-old Komissarova was practicing for next Friday’s contest on a sunny morning on the 1,200-meter course, which has nine banked turns and 25 jumps.

In the main competition, four skiers race against each other, with the top two advancing through heats until the final.

Normally during practice runs, skiers are on the course themselves, or traveling down the mountain in loosely packed bunches.

“The course is difficult. It’s of the highest possible level of complexity, there is nothing simple about it,” Verzeba said. “However, this all is irrelevant now, she got injured, and the rest does not matter.”

Jenny Wiedeke, spokeswoman for the International Ski Federation, said the accident occurred on a series of jumps near the top of the course and that Komissarova fell while exiting the third jump.

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