UW Medicine says fake snow at Olympics could injure more athletes

Credit: AP Photo, Lee Jin-man

SEATTLE, Wash. — The University of Washington claims the artificial snow being used for the Beijing Winter Olympics could put athletes’ health at a risk.

An orthopedic surgeon at UW Medicine says the manufactured snow usually melts and freezes over faster than regular snow, creating harder and icier mountains.

“I think we might see more injuries than we normally do because of the course conditions,” said Dr. Mia Hagen, an orthopedic surgeon at UW Sports Medicine Center. “Potentially, some of those injuries may be even more serious than we would otherwise see because of the amount of speed that the athlete has when they take a fall.”

Skiers could be at the greatest 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 may fall victim to the slippery slopes. She encourages athletes to be wary of these conditions and adjust accordingly.

“With the Winter Olympics upon us, I think there’s a lot of excitement in the public to go out there and enjoy these winter sports,” she said. “And we just need to remember to practice safe technique and try to avoid injury when we can.”

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