2 halfpipe wrecks remind riders of dangers

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 15, 2013 at 5:56 pm •  Published: December 15, 2013
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BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (AP) — Torin Yater-Wallace broke two ribs. Simon Dumont suffered a concussion.

Yes, it could have been much worse. But still, the injuries to two top Americans in the year's first Olympic qualifier serve as a stark reminder of the dangers that exist on the halfpipe.

Yater-Wallace broke his ribs during a practice run for the Dew Tour ski halfpipe finals Saturday. He posted pictures of himself lying in the hospital bed on Twitter and Instagram. On Sunday morning came an even more telling tweet: "I hate the word Sochi" — as good an indicator as any that his road to the Olympics may have stalled out in Breckenridge.

Shortly after Yater-Wallace's injury, Dumont walked off the course after losing a ski and slamming his back on the icy halfpipe. He was diagnosed with a concussion, which comes with an automatic 24-hour waiting period before an athlete can get back out on the mountain. He's expected to return for next week's contest in Copper Mountain.

"Feel like I got hit by a small car, more like a moped," Dumont tweeted Sunday afternoon. "Time for PT, ice, relaxing, and a fresh start tomorrow at copper for the Grand Prix."

Kyle Smaine, who finished sixth in Saturday's contest, said Dumont wrecked right before the competition began — a jolt that was hard to put out of his mind before heading into the halfpipe himself. But like most everyone in these sports, he knows what he signed up for.

"I think it's as safe as it can be, but it's definitely not a safe sport," Smaine said. "Football players get hurt; basketball players get hurt. We do what we can to mitigate it, but it's never going to go away."

Yater-Wallace and Dumont were hurt in the same sport that took the life of Sarah Burke, the four-time Winter X Games champion who pushed hard to have halfpipe skiing included in the Olympics. Burke hit her head trying a routine trick during a training run in January 2012. After she died, friends and coaches agreed that she had taken all the right precautions.

Other high-profile stars to suffer major injuries on the halfpipe include snowboarder Kevin Pearce, whose competitive snowboarding career ended with a head injury suffered during a training run in 2009. One of Pearce's close friends, Luke Mitrani, broke his neck in a snowboarding wreck in New Zealand last August.

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