PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- American luger Emily Sweeney avoided serious injury in a frightening crash that knocked her out of the Pyeongchang Olympics on Tuesday during the final heat of the competition. The diagnosis was that Sweeney had only some bumps and bruises.
"I'm OK," Sweeney said.
Sweeney 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.
Many in the crowd looked at the monitors, horrified -- including the athlete's mother, Sue Sweeney.
The stands were filled with fans cheering raucously, and they immediately went silent waiting for some sort of sign that Sweeney would be all right.
It took several minutes for Sweeney to get to her feet, then several more before she could finally start a slow walk to the finish area -- surrounded by team and on-site medical personnel.
"I've never been so relieved than when I saw her getting up and walking," said American teammate Summer Britcher, choking back tears.
These were the first Olympics for Sweeney.
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, Britcher lost control at the start and collided with some walls -- but got down the track without crashing or serious injury.