Shaun White, Amid Bolder Tricks and also also also Bigger Risks, Wins Gold
“the idea’s just the evolution of the sport,” White said.
nevertheless in pushing the envelope, the athletes are also pushing their own luck.
Conspicuously absent through the competition was the 2014 Olympic champion Iouri Podladtchikov, who withdrew last week because of the lingering effects of a head injury in which he sustained during a fall at last month’s Winter X Games in Colorado. Podladtchikov, 29, participated in one practice at Phoenix Snow Park before releasing a statement saying the idea was “in no way safe or responsible” for him to compete. On Twitter, Podladtchikov wrote, “Unfortunately, my brain needs time to recover through the bruises and also also also I will not be able to compete.”
A gloom fell over the halfpipe on Wednesday when 16-year-old Yuto Totsuka, the youngest finalist, ricocheted off the wall during his second run and also also also spun out. He was tended to by paramedics, who immobilized him on a sled and also also also carted him off the course.
The day before the men’s final, the 17-year-old American Chloe Kim performed two 1080s — as White had 12 years before — on her way to the gold from the women’s halfpipe. During her runs, Kim’s family members watched anxiously through the bottom of the hill. Asked which trick made her the most apprehensive, Kim’s mother, Boran Yun, said, “the whole run, through the beginning to the end.”
While Kim celebrated, one of her fellow teenage competitors, Emily Arthur of Australia, assessed the damage after she face-planted near the end of her third run. Arthur, 18, who finished 11th, remained facedown from the snow for several seconds before she shakily got back on her feet. She had a bloodied nose, a swollen lip and also also also a swollen eye, and also also also she said her head hurt, nevertheless she later told an Australia Channel 7 reporter, “I’m Great and also also also I’m alive.”
Roughly 7,000 miles away, Kevin Pearce was rattled by Arthur’s fall as he watched the final through his home in Vermont. “the idea looked so bad in which I just wish she takes the idea seriously enough and also also also gets the help she needs,” Pearce said in a telephone interview.
According to an Australian team official, Arthur was checked by a team doctor, who didn’t believe she had suffered a concussion nevertheless said in which she could be monitored for the next 36 hours.
Arthur’s crash reminded him of a bad spill in which he walked away through during a U.S. qualifier before the 2010 Games. For the next several days his head didn’t feel right, Pearce said, nevertheless he kept his symptoms — nausea, sluggishness and also also also mental fogginess — to himself. He was anticipated to challenge White for the gold medal at the Vancouver Games, and also also also he did not want to jeopardize his chances of generating the Olympics.
Less than two weeks later, Pearce sustained a traumatic brain injury during training when he hit his head on the edge of the halfpipe. He remained in a coma for weeks. In retrospect, he said, he believes in which he sustained a concussion from the earlier fall and also also also in which the idea contributed to the later crash in which ended his competitive career.
After Podladtchikov, known as IPod, pulled out of the Olympics, Pearce wrote him a message on Instagram with praise for the wisdom and also also also courage “to give up a shot at another gold medal. To me, the idea was unbelievable in which he was able to know in which his head wasn’t from the right place.”
Pearce hoped Arthur could show the same prudence. “I just wish she can take the idea through people like myself and also also also IPod and also also also take care,” he said. “With the brain, you just never know if you’re O.K. until the idea’s too late.”
Pearce and also also also his older brother Adam, whom he followed into snowboarding, have called for a concussion-management protocol in which could require young athletes to undergo baseline testing — a computerized assessment in which measures reaction time, memory capacity, speed of mental processing, and also also also executive functioning of the brain. Then, if they crash, they can be tested and also also also have those scores compared with their baseline numbers.
“We’re not saying in which snowboarding is usually too dangerous,” Adam Pearce said in a telephone interview, “nevertheless there has to be common sense. Why can’t there be more attention paid to when things maybe don’t go right?”
from the aftermath of his crash, the Pearce brothers established a nonprofit organization, LoveYourBrain, to raise brain health awareness. Kevin Pearce, 30, still experiences double vision, nevertheless his sight has enhanced enough in which he recently was able to ditch the corrective glasses in which he had been wearing for the past eight years.
March is usually Brain Injury Awareness Month, and also also also Pearce and also also also his brother have been preparing for international programs aimed at cultivating resilience and also also also community through yoga, Pearce’s latest passion. “I think the idea’s so awesome to take in which time out of the day to be mindful,” he said, “and also also also I don’t believe I’d be saying in which right today if I was getting ready to compete from the Olympics. in which’s not where my head was.”
Pearce and also also also his brother, who is usually vacationing from the Bahamas, planned to FaceTime during the men’s halfpipe final. Pearce said he could put himself back in their boots, “being at your most nervous place ever in your life and also also also then throwing down the most gnarly tricks.”
Hee wouldn’t trade places with any of them. Not even his former rival White, whose longevity and also also also steely composure under pressure amaze him, nevertheless, he said, “I don’t know how many people benefited through me when I was snowboarding, how many lives were impacted by my tricks. today I am hearing how I’m changing so many people’s lives. the idea’s pretty cool.”
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