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UW Medicine says fake snow at Olympics could hurt more athletes

By on February 4, 2022 0
Credit: AP Photo, Lee Jin-man

SEATTLE, Wash. — The University of Washington says artificial snow used for the Beijing Winter Olympics could put athletes‘ health at risk.

An orthopedic surgeon at UW Medicine says artificial snow generally melts and freezes faster than regular snow, creating harder, icier mountains.

“I think we might see more injuries than usual due to course conditions,” said Dr. Mia Hagen, orthopedic surgeon at UW Sports Medicine Center. “Potentially some of these injuries can be even more serious than we would otherwise see due to the speed at which the athlete has a fall.”

Skiers might be most at risk due to the tight turns and traction they need to perform. Hagen says ACL injuries are very common in winter sports and some skiers can fall victim to slippery slopes. She encourages athletes to be wary of these conditions and to adapt accordingly.

“With the Winter Olympics coming up, I think there’s a lot of excitement in the public to go out there and enjoy those winter sports,” she said. “And we just have to remember to practice safe technique and try to avoid injuries when we can.”

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