Ice Climbing Festival in Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics: Medical management and injury analysis

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Objective Sports ice climbing (SIC) is developing rapidly as an independent sport with Olympic potentials. To date there has been no prior systematic evaluation of injury risks and injury patterns in a SIC-specific setting. Methods This paper reports injury statistics collected during the Ice Climbing Festival, which was held during the XXII Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. More than 2500 amateur climbers and 53 professional athletes climbed during 16 days on a dry tooling lead-difficulty, and a 17-m vertical ice wall (grade M4/M5 or Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme [UIAA] V+/VI-). Results The injury incidence rates were 0.82/100 in lead-difficulty and 0.83/100 in speed ice climbing with an overall incidence rate of 0.83/100. The injury risk in amateur climbers was 248 injuries per 1000 hours of sports activities. There were no major accidents or fatalities during the event. SIC could be graded I according to UIAA Fatality Risk Classification. Penetrating and superficial soft tissue injuries (cuts and bruises) were the most common. The anteromedial aspects of the thigh and knee were the most typical injury locations. Conclusions The findings from this study provide an opportunity to compare injury patterns in SIC with what has previously been reported for traditional ice climbing. SIC has lower fatality risks, higher minor injury rates, and comparable injury severity to traditional ice climbing. The main limitation of our findings is that they were obtained on a population of amateur ice climbers with no previous experience. Further research should be performed to define injury risks in professional competitive ice climbers, and standard methodologies for reporting injuries should be considered.




Mashkovskiy, E., Beverly, J. M., Stöcker, U., & Bychkovskiy, S. (2016). Ice Climbing Festival in Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics: Medical management and injury analysis. Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, 27(1), 117–124.

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