KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — American snowboarder Jackie Hernandez took a nasty spill during a seeding run Sunday morning and had to be taken off the snowboard cross course on a sled by medical personnel.
The 21-year-old Hernandez was the sixth rider down the course and landed awkwardly off a small jump, tumbling backwards and slamming her head on the ground. She appeared to be motionless on the ground for a couple of minutes, but eventually sat up and was communicating with medics before they placed her in the sled. Team officials said Hernandez suffered a concussion and though she couldn’t compete, she watched her teammates race later Sunday.
Hernandez, a native of Londonderry, Vt., was the second snowboarder of the day who had to be taken off the course. Norway’s Helene Olafsen, the 2009 world champion, was the first rider of the day and also suffered a bad fall. One day earlier, on the same course at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, Russian skier Maria Komissarova injured her back on a fall and had to undergo emergency surgery.
“It’s always really a big bummer when you see some of your friends go down and get injured,” said three-time Olympian Lindsey Jacobellis, “and you never really know because you’re kind of just sitting up there. I try to really just zone out and not think about it and focus on what I got to do.”
The riders were participating in seeding runs to determine positioning in the quarterfinal heats. The rules of snowboard cross have been tweaked at these Olympics and there will be six riders per heat, which could create more chaos and crashes, snowboarders say.