Japanese Olympic officials reportedly described Yuto Totsuka as having “no big injury” Wednesday, apart from pain in his hip, which came as very good news, indeed. The 16-year-old snowboarder was taken to a hospital after a scary crash during the men’s halfpipe final at the Winter Games in South Korea.
On the second of three scheduled runs, Totsuka went airborne for a spinning, complex trick, but his trajectory was off. Instead of a relatively soft landing inside the halfpipe, the Japanese athlete slammed into its lip, and after tumbling down toward the bottom of the course, he lay there motionless for a few moments.
A hush fell over the crowd, which had been in a frenzy over a hotly contested event that ultimately ended with Team USA’s Shaun White winning his third gold medal. Eventually, Totsuka was able to sit up as paramedics attended to him, and he was skied off the course on a stretcher.
Totsuka burst onto the halfpipe World Cup scene in September, winning his first event. He became known for a fearless style even among his fellow competitors, often opening his runs with more challenging tricks than others would attempt right away.
Despite the severity of his crash Wednesday, initial reports indicated Totsuka escaped major injury. This post will update with news on his condition, as it becomes available.
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