Ski Jumping - Jumps are fine, official says in wake of crashes

The International Ski Federation has no concerns about the ski jumps at the Sochi Winter Olympics, a federation spokesman said on Thursday, in the wake of two night-time training crashes, one of which sent an athlete to hospital.

In the last jump on Wednesday night on the large hill, Olympic gold medallist Kamil Stoch suffered a bloody nose and left the course with his left arm in a sling after crashing.

Poland's Stoch, the world number one, won the normal hill on Sunday.

Russia's Maksim Maksimochkin had earlier been taken to hospital for observation after landing heavily. Officials said neither man was badly hurt.

"There are no concerns. For sure, the ground crew will check everything in detail today ... These things can just happen," said Horst Nilgen, a spokesman for the ski federation.

Some jumpers have complained the artificial snow at the ski jumps is soft, making it harder to grip.

"This was not a problem. Otherwise we would not have done two rounds of training for sure," said Nilgen when asked about the snow conditions.

During training sessions for both the men's and women's normal hill events, several athletes fell over as they came to a halt after appearing to lose their grip.

"The snow is a bit tricky in the landing area. You have to stay focused," Norway's Anders Bardal told reporters after the two crashes.

Slovenia's Peter Prevc, who won silver in the normal hill on Sunday, said the artificial snow had relatively large crystals.

"Frozen it is hard but unfrozen it is like sand and the ski can go under it," he said.

The men are due to train again on Thursday night in preparation for Saturday's large hill event.

Mikko Martikainen, who is working as official snow consultant for the Olympics, said there was no problem with the snow at the ski jumping complex.

The complex groups the two jumps as well as a 2.5km cross-country course, which Nordic Combined athletes raced over during the normal hill event on Wednesday in mild temperatures.

"Yesterday, at the warmest spot ever in the history of the Winter Olympics, the ski jump venue, we had a perfect competition at 14 Celsius (57 Fahrenheit) and the snow pack was minus one C," Martikainen told Reuters Television.

Falls are common in ski jumping. Three-time Olympic gold medallist Thomas Morgenstern of Austria is still recovering from crashes in both December and January.

Women's world champion Sarah Hendrickson suffered severe ligament damage in a crash last August. Although she made it to Sochi, she performed well below her best. (With additional reporting by Iain Axon; Editing by Peter Rutherford)