Posts Tagged ‘Cypress’

Keeping Kevin On Their Minds

Pearce Patch

Patches honoring injured snowboarder Kevin Pearce were worn at the halfpipe. (Luke Winn/SI)

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The men’s halfpipe final may go down as the best party of these Games, a raucous, sold-out affair that was punctuated by Shaun White’s Tomahawk and closed a day that SI’s Brian Cazenueve called the greatest in U.S. Olympic history. But there was an ominous absence on Cypress Mountain — that of American snowboarder Kevin Pearce, one of White’s chief competitors on the pipe, who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury while practicing a cab double-cork on Dec. 31 in Park City, Utah.

As of Wednesday, Pearce was in the Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo.; according to an NBC Sports report, his serious condition is such that he “must learn to walk again.” Pearce stayed on boarders’ minds at Cypress — American Scotty Lago dedicated his bronze medal to Pearce and another injured teammate, Danny Davis — and reminders of him were in the pen at the bottom of the halfpipe.

Gabe L’Heureux, a team manager for Burton (which sponsors the Americans), was handing out patches his company had made that read, “I Ride 4 Kevin.” He had about 500 of them to distribute on Wednesday and Thursday, and said, “We just wish Kevin was with us. Hopefully, he’s watching this, and it’s not the same without him. He’s one of the best snowboarders in the world.”

Pearce, the son of well-known glass-blower Simon Pearce, had initially practiced his cab double cork on a private halfpipe in California, where SI’s Austin Murphy was reporting a feature in June. Murphy wrote about that experience this week:

By increasing the “Wow!” factor, boarders also jacked up the danger. Last June 18, for a story on Kevin Pearce, I took a Sno-Cat up to a private halfpipe on the backside of Mammoth Mountain in California. The pipe was paid for by Nike, which sponsors Pearce, a supremely talented and gracious 22-year-old, and one of the few people on the planet to have beaten White in the pipe. Pearce was happy and excited that day. He and several members of his crew — the now-notorious Frends — were busy dialing in various double-corked moves. Mitrani was perfecting his “double-Michalchuck.” Danny Davis was polishing his cab double-cork. Pearce had landed a Double McTwist. Before my eyes, they were accelerating the progression of their sport.

The fun ended when Pearce, attempting a switch double Haakon flip, slammed his board into the deck, then rag-dolled to the bottom of the pipe. He’d broken a bone in his right ankle, and would not ride for another three months. In that story I quoted Jake Burton, whose company sponsors Pearce. “Every time these guys go for it, it’s a leap of faith,” said Burton of the new generation of double-corked moves. The halfpipe, he went on, “is just getting more challenging. And dangerous.”

Pearce sticker

Kevin Casillo wore stickers in support of Pearce, his old teammate, on Wednesday. (Luke Winn/SI)

Nike team rep Dave Driscoll was also at the Olympic halfpipe on Wednesday, wearing a Pearce patch. He’s kept in contact with Pearce’s parents, and said of Kevin, “He’s making progress. He’s a real fighter — he’s making positive steps toward recovery every day, and continues to amaze his doctors with the progress he’s making.”

Outside the stands before the final, I ran into one of Pearce’s old teammates, Kevin Casillo, a former pro snowboarder who’s now a rep for Spy. He was wearing an “I Ride For Kevin” sticker — the one that appeared on a number of boards at events such as the X Games, and probably would’ve been seen at Cypress if the Olympics allowed anything to be affixed to equipment — and a sticker for Pearce’s “Frends” crew below that. Casillo was adamant that Pearce’s snowboarding career wasn’t finished.

“Kevin’s a strong person,” Casillo said. “He’ll be back sooner than anyone thought.”

Pearce patch

Burton's Gabe L'Heureux wearing his patch while Louie Vito (left) and Shaun White (center) walk past. (Luke Winn/SI)

  • Published On Feb. 18, 2010 by lukewinn