Extreme sports need to consider safety revamp

Caleb Moore crashes during the snowmobile freestyle at the Winter X Games. Photo courtesy of Christian Murdock of The Gazette.

Caleb Moore crashes during the snowmobile freestyle at the Winter X Games. Photo courtesy of Christian Murdock of The Gazette.

Snowmobiles were not made to be flipped.

On Jan. 24, four-time X Games medalist Caleb Moore, 25, crashed his snowmobile during the snowmobile freestyle event at the 2013 Winter X Games in Aspen. According to ESPN, Moore was attempting a back flip when his snowmobile nose-dived into the top of the ramp. He landed facedown in the snow, his vehicle rolling over his body and down the hill.

Moore walked — with help — off of the ramp, and went to the hospital to be treated for a concussion. He died Jan. 31 of a brain complication and bleeding around his heart, according to news reports.

Moore was the first person to die in 18 years of the Winter X Games, but the number of serious injuries is staggering. At this year’s four-day event, at least six athletes were sent to the hospital in ambulances, according to the New York Times.

Colten Moore, younger brother of Caleb Moore, separated his pelvis in a crash on the same course a half-hour after his brother crashed. Other serious injuries included a fractured spine, an injured knee and a concussion. During Jackson Strong’s run in the Best Trick event Jan. 27, a runaway snowmobile ran into the crowd, causing spectators to scatter, while a little boy hurt his leg while trying to get out of the way.

In 2012 in Aspen, X Games athletes paid a tribute to Sarah Burke, a freestyle skier who died in a half-pipe accident in Utah Jan. 19, 2012 — a week before last year’s games. She was 29.

A little more than two years earlier, in the same half-pipe where Burke’s accident occurred, snowboarder Kevin Pearce sustained a traumatic head injury, which ended his snowboarding career at age 22.

I get it — the X-Games are supposed to be the pinnacle of extreme sports, but intensity comes with inherent risks. At what point, however, does it go from avant-garde athleticism to unnecessary danger?

Why was it necessary to flip a nearly 450-pound snowmobile mid-air? Caleb Moore’s life ended because of the mounting pressure in modern snow sports to push the boundaries of safety and physical possibility.

Whether it is from one’s personal motivation to achieve and innovate or from outside expectations of grandeur, these sports have reached a level that exceeds extreme and catapults into excess.

Measures need to be taken to prevent accidents like these from happening. In nearly all professional sports, when life-threatening injuries occur, safety measures and new regulations are implemented. It’s a shame, though, that for snow sports, it takes a death to spark the discussion.

I’m not arguing the athleticism and value within extreme sports. It’s because of my support that I wholeheartedly believe reform needs to happen. These young, promising athletes should be able to excel and shape the sport, just under safer guidelines.

It doesn’t matter how cool it looks to land a crazy new trick. No back flip is worth a life.

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Nikki Work

Nikki Work

Nikki Work is the Managing Editor at The Metropolitan. She has contributed to The Metropolitan as a reporter since 2011. She is majoring in journalism with a minor in political science and expects to graduate in 2014. From a young age, Nikki dreamed of a career in journalism and eventually hopes to work for in political reporting and analysis for a large news magazine.
Nikki Work

Latest posts by Nikki Work (see all)

Nikki Work

Nikki Work is the Managing Editor at The Metropolitan. She has contributed to The Metropolitan as a reporter since 2011. She is majoring in journalism with a minor in political science and expects to graduate in 2014. From a young age, Nikki dreamed of a career in journalism and eventually hopes to work for in political reporting and analysis for a large news magazine.

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