ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (AFP) - Russian freestyle skier Maria Komissarova was seriously injured on Saturday while training on the Sochi Olympic course for the ski-cross event, the Russian freestyle federation said.
"Maria Komissarova received a serious injury today during training. She was urgently taken to hospital," the federation statement said.
"Doctors carried out the necessary examination and took the decision to operate on her on the spot," it added.
The state-owned R-Sport news agency quoted a source familiar with the situation as saying the 23-year-old had sustained a fractured vertebrae.
"Maria has a fractured vertebrae. The nature of the injury does not make it possible to transfer her to Moscow for the operation," said the source.
"Now the doctors are deciding what to do but an urgent operation will be carried out in the hospital in Krasnaya Polyana."
Crashes have been a common feature of the snowboard and freestyle skiing events at these Games.
Norwegian snowboarder Torstein Horgmo broke his collar bone in a crash during men's snowboard slopestyle training before the Games began.
Canadian slopestyle skier Yuki Tsubota fractured her jaw in competition when she landed short on a jump and hit the rim of the slope, bringing her knee thumping up into her jaw.
In moguls, American skier Heidi Klose broke a bone in her thigh and tore her cruciate knee ligament after a crash in training.
Others such as teenage American skier Maggie Voisin and Austrian snowboarder Adrian Krainer were forced out of the Olympics after suffering injuries in crashes on the slopestyle course, while Japan's Miki Ito pulled out of the moguls after a training crash.
In ski jumping, Russia's Mikhail Maksimochkin was taken to hospital after breaking his ribs in a fall in that event.
It is not just competitors finding themselves in harm's way at these Games.
A worker at the bobsleigh track was hit by a forerunner sled that is used to clear and test the course before the competition begins.
Reports suggested he had broken both legs.
Komissarova was not expected to be a medal contender but she was one of the most visible Russian athletes at the Games having posed for a series of racy pictures prior to the Olympics.
Her crash on the ski-cross course, also used for snowboard cross, is perhaps not so surprising given the daredevil mentality of some of those athletes.
American snowboarder Nick Baumgartner said the danger element was exactly what had attracted him to the sport in the first place.
"That's why I enjoy the sport, I like to have that. If it's dangerous and scary, and I overcome that and do well, that's what I'm looking for," he said.
"I'm looking for that rush, that adrenaline; that's the reason I do it, that's what brought me to this sport."