Military Sports

National Guard soldier Emily Sweeney crashes out of Olympics

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — American luger Emily Sweeney, a sergeant in the New York Army National Guard, 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, one of seven soldiers competing in the 2018 Games, 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.

Emily Sweeney, a sergeant with the New York Army National Guard, is a member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program. (Michael Sohn/AP)
Emily Sweeney, a sergeant with the New York Army National Guard, is a member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program. (Michael Sohn/AP)

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.

These were the first Olympics for Sweeney, 24, a military police officer with the New York Army National Guard.

play_circle_filled In this Nov. 18, 2017, photo, pilot Codie Bascue, front, Nathan Weber, Carlo Valdes and Samuel McGuffie, of the United States, compete in the four-man bobsled World Cup race in Park City, Utah. For whatever reason, sliding sports have always gotten tons of attention from the military, and the team that is wearing red, white and blue in Korea has plenty of people who wear the flag at work as well. Weber is a Green Beret. (Rick Bowmer/AP)
US Olympic sliders: Red, white, blue ... and green

Nate Weber is one of seven Army soldiers who will be sliding for the U.S. at the Pyeongchang Games that start next week, wearing the American flag in a foreign land — with the same level of pride that the 10th Special Forces member has during his three deployments abroad.

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.

Sweeney’s teammate and fellow National Guard Sgt. Taylor Morris took 18th in the men’s single luge event. Sgt. Matthew Mortensen, a member of the New York Army National Guard’s 1156th Engineer Company, will race for a doubles luge medal with partner Jayson Terdiman on Wednesday.

Four more soldier-athletes are taking part part in two- and four-man bobsled events; the first medals in those races will be awarded Monday.

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