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Curlers more likely to hurt themselves than lugers, speed skaters

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Curlers may be sporting the wildest pants of any event at the Olympic Games. But they are at risk for more than being flagged by the fashion police.

Four percent of the sport’s competitors saw injuries, according to a survey of injuries at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Based solely on injury rates, that made curling more dangerous than six other winter sports, including speed skating, freestyle moguls, luge, and biathlon.

The survey also had some expected results: the snowboard cross sustained the highest rate of injuries within any event – 35%. This is nearly double the rate of the next most-dangerous event, bobsled, which had a 20% injury rate.

The luge, another sledding sport, surprisingly had one of the lowest injury rates at the 2010 Olympics – only 2%. But of the two luge-related incidents recorded, one was the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili who was killed when he was thrown from the track near the end of the course.

The survey, by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, also gathered data on bodily injury locations. Athletes’ knees, heads and feet were most likely to sustain injury, but there was wide variation between sports. Alpine skiing and snowboarding were particularly rough on the knees, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all knee-related injuries at the games.

Hockey players sustained injuries to the face more frequently than competitors in any other sport, while bobsled, skeleton and luge were particularly rough on the neck and upper back.