At this year’s winter Olympics in Vancouver, all eyes were on the snowboarding champion Shaun White as the crowd eagerly awaited the unveiling of his newest tricks, perfected on his own private half pipe in Colorado. While most consider him the best, one man might have beaten White, if he’d only had the chance.
Kevin Pearce has defeated White twice in the past couple of years. In fact, many say that Pearce was the closest thing to a nemesis that White has in his sport.
But Kevin Pearce may never snowboard again.
On New Year’s Eve Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury after attempting an amazing but perilous snowboarding trick known as the double cork. The 22-year-old Vermont native slammed his head on the edge of the half-pipe, knocking himself unconscious.
He was airlifted to a hospital in Utah where he had been practicing. Here he remained in a coma for weeks and spent nearly a month in critical condition. He is currently living in a full-time care facility for patients with brain and spinal cord injuries.
Pearce has only just begun to speak again, needs help regaining the ability to walk, and is struggling with vision problems caused by this traumatic impact with the icy lip of the half pipe.
Though Pearce went from Olympic hopeful to viewing the action from a hospital bed, he doesn’t seek sympathy nor curse this cruel fate. According to his family, he as not complained once about his injury. When he was first able to speak again, the first words he mumbled to the doctor were “Will I be able to snowboard again?”
This question speaks as much about this brave man as it does about this dangerous sport. Here’s to hoping the answer to Pearce’s question is YES.