LUDLOW, VT. – The first time I met Kevin Pearce he was flying high. It was the run-up to the Vancouver Olympics and this young kid from Vermont was poised to take the podium on snowboarding’s half pipe for the U.S. Olympic team.
He was a good looking, quiet young man who seemed to have his head screwed on straight. One of the most memorable things he told me was that his strong family bonds helped him keep his feet on the ground in spite of all the publicity and promotion that comes with being a world-class athlete.
Then things went terribly wrong.
During a training run on Dec. 31, 2009 in Park City, Utah Kevin missed a new maneuver called the “Double Cork” – he slammed his head into the side of the icy course and was left in critical condition. The impact was so severe he even cracked his helmet.
Suffering from traumatic brain injury, doctors placed Kevin in a medically induced coma so his brain could heal. After about a month in critical care, he was moved to Craig Hospital in Denver, a world renowned rehabilitation center that specializes in treating traumatic brain injuries. He suffered severe memory loss, impaired vision and had to learn to walk again.