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Army Sgt. Emily Sweeney crashes out of Olympics

Emily Sweeney of the United States competes in her third heat during the women's luge final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

WONG MAYE-E/AP

By TIM REYNOLDS | Associated Press | Published: February 13, 2018

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — American luger Sgt. Emily Sweeney crashed out of the Pyeongchang Olympics on Tuesday, losing control of her sled midway through the final run of the competition.

There was no immediate word on the nature of Sweeney’s injury. She was able to walk toward the finish about 10 minutes after the crash, albeit very gingerly and with some assistance from team and on-site medical personnel.

Sweeney lost control around Curve 9, the track’s most treacherous spot, and then began careening all over the track. She wound up sliding feet-first up one curve toward the track roof before getting thrown from her sled and eventually tumbling to a stop.

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Sweeney remained on the ice for several minutes, then was able to sit on the track wall while medical personnel tended to her. The crowd at the Alpensia Sliding Center — which had been raucous all night — immediately went silent while waiting for any sign that Sweeney was fine.

Sweeney gave a grimaced smile and a wave to a group of soldiers cheering her on as she walked the final steps to the ambulance. The Eighth Army brought about 70 soldiers and dependents to the event, 100 miles from Camp Humphreys, to cheer on Sweeney and fellow soldier-competitors.

These were the first Olympics for Sweeney. She is on the U.S. luge team with two other soldiers, Sgt. Matt Mortensen and Sgt. Taylor Morris.

Most of the Army Olympians are part of the World Class Athlete Program, which was established in 1997 to give soldier-athletes a chance to show off their skills in international competitions such as the Olympics and the Paralympics. Soldiers must be nationally ranked in their sport to participate.

Curve 9 has been a problem for sliders throughout the early portion of the Olympics, causing many to skid, lose control and lose some time. Crashes, however, have not come as often as they did in the 2006 and 2010 Games, both of which left athletes openly complaining about track safety.

Later in the final run, Summer Britcher of the United States lost control at the start and collided with some walls — but got down the track without crashing or serious injury.

Stars and Stripes reporters Kim Gamel and Marcus Fichtl contributed to this story.
 

Army Sgt. Emily Sweeney waves as she walks from a crash on the luge track at Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.
MARCUS FICHTL/STARS AND STRIPES

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