SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — American snowboarder Kevin Pearce was in critical condition Saturday at a Utah hospital after suffering a “severe, traumatic brain injury” in a training accident, one of his doctors said.
Pearce is in the University of Utah Hospital’s intensive care unit in Salt Lake City. Dr. Holly Ledyard said Pearce is stable condition and has not yet needed to undergo surgery.
“Kevin sustained a severe, traumatic brain injury … (and) is being kept sedated,” Ledyard said in a statement released by the snowboarder’s publicist. “The focus over the next week will be watching for any swelling in his brain and keeping his brain pressure normal.”
Pearce was preparing for next week’s Olympic qualifying events at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., when he hit his head during a training run Thursday in Park City.
“Kevin has a long recovery ahead of him,” Ledyard said.
According to an update Saturday afternoon on a Facebook page set up by his family, Pearce was “doing well, he continues to maintain his stable condition. Being young, healthy and strong is working in his favor.”
“Family and friends remain positive and are thankful for the outpouring of support,” said Pearce’s spokeswoman, Danielle Burch.
The 22-year-old from Norwich, Vt., is a top-ranked halfpipe rider. Along with Shaun White, he is considered to be one of America’s top athletes in a sport dominated by the United States.
Olympic halfpipes are essentially hollowed out ice shells, the sides of which rise up to 22 feet in the air. Riders gain speed as they go from one side to another and fly several feet over the edges, where they flip and spin, often rotating 720 or 1080 degrees on a single jump.
Pearce was in the process of completing a twisting double back flip when he caught his toe-side edge while landing, Burch said. He was wearing a helmet.
Three weeks ago, Pearce fell during a preliminary run at an Olympic qualifying event in Copper Mountain, Colo., and suffered a concussion.