A fall in the Giant Slalom on Monday at the Beijing Olympics has resulted in a broken left leg and several torn ligaments for USA skier Nina O’Brien, who has ties to Lake Tahoe.
According to Mark Jarvis, owner of Tahoe Ski Girl, where O’Brien is a member, the injuries were confirmed today following O’Brien’s severe fall on the slick artificial snow on the Beijing course.
O’Brien suffered a compound fracture of her left tibia and fibula during the women’s giant slalom, and an initial stabilization procedure was successful.
Jarvis said the Palisades Tahoe skier suffered no head or neck injuries.
“I’m a little heartbroken, but also feeling so much love,” O’Brien told Skiracing.com. “Thank you to everyone who’s reached out. My phone is flooded with messages, and waking up to your words means more than you know. The good news is that today is a new day – and I get to cheer on my teammates. Good luck to everyone competing and enjoy it.”
USA teammate Mikaela Shiffrin, who was heavily favored to win the Giant Slalom and had a fall on her run that ruined her chances, commented about O’Brien on her Twitter account.
“We’re so heartbroken for @nina_obrien … she showed so much heart and fire in her skiing today, and it all got shredded to pieces on the final turn. This sport … this sport is so damn hard,” Shiffrin wrote.
The Beijing Olympics just started, but they have sadly ended for O’Brien, who was born in San Francisco and attended Dartmouth College. The 24-year-old O’Brien was also going to compete in the Women’s Slalom event at the Winter Olympics.
Tahoe Ski Girl is selling Nina O’Brien shirts and all the proceeds will be going to her.
The Palisades Tahoe Ski Team product crashed near the finish line yesterday morning (Monday, Beijing time) in her second Giant Slalom run, sending gasps throughout the crowd that included many fellow Olympic skiers.
Doctors and emergency responders tended to O’Brien on the icy snow for almost 10 minutes, before dragging her away from the finish area on a stretcher.
“I keep replaying it in my head, wishing I’d skied those last few gates differently,” O’Brien posted to social media shortly after the announcement. “But here we are. I had surgery last night to stabilize my tibia, which unfortunately was an open fracture through my leg. I’ll get the rest fixed at home, but for now I’m in great hands.”
Starting the second of two runs in sixth place, O’Brien was going fast on the final turn when she slipped and appeared to hurt her leg, very close to the finish line.
There were other falls throughout the second round of Giant Slalom runs, but O’Brien’s was the scariest. She lost balance after clipping one of the final two gates.
Her skis split, her right knee appeared to bend underneath her at an awkward angle, and she tumbled toward and over the finish line as her skis and poles went flying.
Footage of the crash aftermath confirmed O’Brien clutching her left leg.
O’Brien lay on the artificial snow, but was “alert and responsive,” according to a U.S. ski team spokeswoman. She was “calm, worried about delaying the race, and wanted to know how fast she was skiing.”
<h2>Nina O’Brien File</h2
- Sport: Alpine skiing
- Event: Slalom, Giant Slalom
- Born: Nov. 29, 1997
- Birthplace\Hometown: San Francisco, Calif.
- College: Dartmouth College
- Team/Club: Palisades Tahoe Ski Team /Burke Mountain Academy
<h2>HOW SAFE IS THE ARTIFICAL SNOW?</h2> Video showed fellow skiers in disbelief following O’Brien’s crash.
O’Brien was one of multiple skiers who fell during the first Alpine race at these Winter Games. She wasn’t the only casualty in the Giant Slalom competition.
There have already been multiple crashes in the Beijing Olympics, raising questions over the host’s decision to use nearly 100-percent artificial snow for the 2022 Winter Games.
Apart from its environmental impact, the decision has been criticized by some athletes, including retired British freestyle skier Laura Donaldson, who called it “dangerous.”
It comes at a time when the future of the Winter Olympics is under threat because of climate change, according to a new university report. The warning came as Beijing prepared for the first Winter Olympics to use nearly 100-percent artificial snow.
<h2>TAHOE PAIR UNIMPRESSIVE IN DOWNHILL</h2>: Bryce Bennet finished 19th and USA teammate Travis Ganong took 20th in the Men’s Downhill on Monday in Beijing.
Each downhill skier got one shot down the treacherous course that had its share of wipeouts.
Bennet had a promising run going when it all went bad when he couldn’t control his skies and veered off the course. The effort to get back on the right path greatly impacted his score.
The 29-year-old Bennett, who was born in Truckee and raised in Tahoe City, trained with the Squaw Valley ski team.
Ganong, 33, calls Alpine Meadows home and represents Palisades Tahoe.