PARK CITY — A powerful gust of wind sent large trash cans, at least one metal chair and trash flying across the Park City High School track Saturday during a training session for U.S. Olympic bobsled and skeleton athletes.
None of the athletes were hurt.
Greg West, who hopes to compete for the U.S. in skeleton at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, said he was part of the group at Saturday's informal training session. The athletes were running timed sprints as part of their summer training regimen, he said.
"The off-season is the on-season. That's when the work is done," said West, who played football in college and discovered the sport of skeleton while watching the 2010 Winter Olympics.
"I was watching the Games with my roommates in Alabama and one roommate looked at me and said, 'You can do that,' and I was like, 'I can do that,' and we Googled it," West said. "Short version, from April 2010 to October 2010, I went from having just a regular first job out of college to getting an invite to live at the Olympic Training Center."
That invitation comes with the understanding that there will be a lot of training, West said, which is what the athletes were doing Saturday when the lightweight optical timing devices they were using began to move in circles and lift off the ground.
"They were not falling (over). They were kind of doing this motion," West said, twirling his fingers in the air.
Surveillance video from the school shows a sudden gust of wind peppering the athletes with dust and debris. One of the athletes even appears to hurdle a flying garbage can. West, however, wasn't so lucky.
"Something hit me in the back," he said. "I would love to see the video to see what actually hit me."
The video shows West sitting trackside in a chair when the wind starts to move through. As the wind builds — and garbage cans lift off the ground around him — West gets up from the chair, which promptly blows away. West turns his back to the wind and is hit by a large red garbage can in the back of the right leg — the same leg he injured about 12 weeks ago.
"I literally just got cleared to get out and start jogging again (on Friday)," said West, who was grateful to escape the incident without injury.
"I've seen tornadoes, I've been in a hurricane, I've been in an earthquake, and then I get knocked over in a little windstorm in Park City on a football field," he said. "I mean I got laid out by something blowing through the air when I was just sitting there minding my own business.
"It's kind of weird," West added, noting that he and his fellow athletes often joke about what freak injury might end their Olympic dreams.
"I have nightmares about that kind of thing," he said with a laugh.
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