Though the video was taken
by an amateur photographer, its significance is major. Kevin Pearce, seen in a
blue jacket, is back on his snowboard for the first time after suffering a traumatic
brain injury while training for the Olympics in 2009.
"Basically Kevin went
up out of the half-pipe and as he came down he caught his head on the edge of
the pipe," said Dr. Matthew Gammons of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Teams.
And though Pearce was
wearing a helmet, Gammons says it didn't help
"He actually hit kind
of more lower on his face than on the side where the helmet wasn't protecting
him," Gammons explained.
At the time, doctors
questions whether Pearce-- then just 23-- would ever walk again, let alone
need different types of rehab, whether it be more along the lines of how the
brain functions or the balance and strength and coordination," Gammons
said. "In Kevin's case it was a lot of the latter so that he could get
back on a snowboard."
Pearce, seen in a recent
YouTube video, says his persistent physical therapy is what made the
"I really focused on
getting my eyes better, getting my balance better and just overall working
harder in the physical therapy, getting everything back dialed in. You know, I
feel that all of that has helped so much and it's got me into this perfect
position where I feel so good to get back out there and so much more
comfortable than I did a year ago," Pearce said.
And he sure looked
comfortable Tuesday as he hit the slopes out in Colorado.
"So, I guess snowboarding
is such a big part of me, it really defines the person I am. It kind of comes
through in so many different ways. It's just gonna be so cool to get back to
that. I feel like it's such a huge thing that's been missing in me. It's just
so exciting that I'm going to get that back," Pearce said.
And he isn't the only one
who's excited. At mountains across Vermont Tuesday, skiers and riders said
they're thrilled to see Pearce back on the slopes.
"It's good to have
him back. I've always looked up to Kevin Pearce as a younger rider. When I
found out he got hurt training for the Olympics, super bummin'. I've always
looked up to him and followed him. I ride for Kevin, you know," said Drew Abramovich,
"It seemed like a
pretty significant injury they thought that maybe he would possibly not be able
to walk again, so the fact that he's back on a snowboard, I think, is
awesome," snowboarder Kagan Prouty said.
Gammons says Pearce may
never recover enough to compete again, but that Pearce's goal has always been
just to get back on his board.
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