With the Paralympics under way in Sochi, one U.S. athlete has come home following a training accident that broke his back.
U.S. alpine monoskier Andrew Kurka left Moscow Friday following an accident during his first training run on March 5 that broke his T5 and T6 vertebrae, according to Kurka’s official Facebook page.
“It was my first run, and I hit the jump too fast, I think,” Kurka said in a phone interview Sunday.
Kurka was examined by doctors in Sochi before returning home to Palmer, where he is resting and in stable condition. According to Kurka, his doctors have stated that surgery is improbable in the immediate future.
“I am loving the chance to get home to see my family, to see Alaska, I love this place,” Kurka said. “But I am definitely missing the opportunity of a lifetime, in Sochi.”
Kurka suffered a similar injury in 2005 when an ATV accident damaged three vertebrae that left him slightly paralyzed from the waist down. He says he took up monoskiing after his physical therapist enrolled him in a program called Challenge Alaska.
Since then, Kurka has participated and medaled in several international competitions, including the X Games and the World Cup Panorama.
“I am not giving up,” said Kurka. “I’m going to try to do the world champs next year!”
Kurka is one of 692 atheletes representing the U.S. in the 2014 Sochi Paralympics, which began Friday.