Winter Olympics 2018: Austrian snowboarder breaks neck, finishes race

Austrian snowboarder Markus Schairer broke the fifth cervical vertebra in his neck during a frightening fall in the men's snowboard cross quarterfinals Thursday at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Doctors said he escaped any permanent damage.

The force of the impact sent Schairer's goggles flying off his head as his competitors passed on their way to the nearby finish line. In spite of the injury, Schairer somehow got back to his feet and finished the race without assistance.

Schairer fractured his fifth cervical vertebrae, the Austrian Olympic committee said in the statement. While the injury sounded frightful, the Austrian Olympic Committee said after the examination that Schairer was in stable condition and had suffered no neurological issues.

The 30-year-old had come to the penultimate jump hard to crash, but could then independently drive to the finish. "He's expected to return to Austria for further testing and treatment".

In 2013, he ruptured four shoulder ligaments and fractured a joint in a training accident.

Schairer was in fourth place before his fall, The Washington Post reported, and had hurt his elbow in a crash during an earlier run.

Sixteen-year-old Yuto Totsuka was carried from the scene on a stretcher after he was seen landing a crumpled heap following the fall on the course.

  • Steve Townsend