Notebook: Russian skicross racer fractures spine in crash

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Olympic skicross racer Maria Komissarova of Russia underwent a 6½-hour operation on her fractured spine after 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 monitored 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.

King headed to Sochi after all

The White House says former tennis great Billie Jean King, who couldn't attend the opening of the Olympics because of her mother's illness, will be a member of President Barack Obama's official delegation to the Games' closing ceremony. Joining King will be American speed skaters Bonnie Blair, who won five Olympic gold medals and a bronze, and Eric Heiden, who earned five Olympic golds.

Meanwhile, in South Korea

The people of Pyeongchang can confidently promise two things when they host the Olympics: it'll be cold, and there will be no concerns about snow. While a warm spell has created challenging conditions for the skiers and snowboarders competing in the mountains above Sochi, there has been heavy snow in the region that will host the next Winter Games in 2018. Pyeongchang, three hours east of Seoul, is already a favored destination for affluent winter sports fans. It has the typical look and feel of an Alpine resort. Kim Yong-woon, a former South Korea national ski team member who is mayor of a small village in the region, has been visiting Sochi to inspect the infrastructure and said the Black Sea resort area has a summery feel.

Another bobsled mishap

The top U.S. women's bobsled sustained damage to its front end after a fast training run. Elana Meyers and brakeman Lauryn Williams completed their practice run in 57.50 seconds -- 0.34 seconds faster than any other sled -- before banging a wall in the outrun. The pair did not take their second run so mechanics could fix the BMW-designed sled. On Friday, Meyers crashed the sled at the bottom of the course on her first run. She and alternate brakeman Katie Eberling were uninjured and made a second run in USA-1 without incident.

Different kind of curl route

Royalty from Britain, Norway and Monaco have been among the VIPs this week at the curling tournament. Add Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis to the list. The San Francisco 49ers star dropped in to watch the U.S. women play Sweden. Flanked by his agent and a representative of one of Team USA's sponsors, he watched the final five ends of the Americans' 7-6 loss. Davis gave curling a try for the first time in 2009, two months before the Vancouver Games, and loved it. He is USA Curling's honorary captain for the 2014 Games -- he had the same role four years ago -- and even gets on the ice when he can.


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