Sitski at the X Games — An Unfortunate Ending

Unfortunately, Andy Campbell crashed during qualifying and broke his femur. Then he skied down. Here is his account of his last day at the X Games.

?I was first in the runnings for qualification and had to make some last minute repairs to my sitski. If I missed my slot I wasn’t going to get bumped down the order because of the ESPN induced timeframe and would just have to wait for the second qualifying run.

Up in the gates and on my last ready-to-ski 195, this ski was tuned up and I wasn’t having any problems in the warm, wet and sticky snow. I was crapping myself prior to the start, but as soon as the gate went down and I hit the first jump I was feeling great.

I hit the top of the course at full speed and knew I’d go slower through the rest of the course to ensure I’d qualify and not crash out. Everything was going well until I landed a jump and bent the ski. I didn’t even wipe out but knew the ski was wrecked and pulled to the side, utterly gutted because I knew I was on a good run.

Then it hit home that I didn’t have another ski. The running order was reversed for the second run so I was last and had a little time to try and sort everything out. First priority was getting a ski, any ski. I had a 192 but the binding was broken.Then I remembered seeing a girl in the same make of sitski as me, she was here spectating and pretty new to skiing sitting down. Someone ran off and grabbed her ski. Only problem was that it was a 155 slalom ski that looked as if it hadn’t seen a tuning room since I last played football.

But it was my only option and I decided to take the course extra slow, not getting any air at all, just qualify and get the new 195s sorted out for the next day. I got back up to the gates with 10 seconds to spare and hit the course straight away, took everything slow as hell, not getting any air, even off the first kicker. I felt like a complete pussy.

I got half way down, just coming up to the road gap and had to decide whether to hit it or take the safety option over the cat track to the right. I knew I had enough speed to clear the road gap, preferred going over it than hitting the rutted up cat track, knew that it didn’t involve height but rather length and decided that it would be fine to hit.

I had a good approach and set up well for what I thought was going to be a very simple air, no kicker or anything. I’m not sure whether it was the short tail on the ski, or just me being in the back seat too much, but as soon as I left the snow I felt like I was doing a back flip (something the spectators later said it looked like I was going to complete). I’m sure it wasn’t that far, but it felt like forever and I can remember being completely inverted, in complete silence, waiting for the impact to come.

I hit hard, coming down directly on my back. Once again the pain was immense, nausea flooded over me and I could do nothing but emit a low, Neanderthal-like growl. A medic was on me straight away but I couldn’t do or say anything for at least 30 seconds. All I cared about was checking if I could move my hands still, and I could. I laid there for a couple minutes while I got my breath back and the pain died away and decided I was okay to ski down.

The impact had thrown the cover off my legs, so I gave them a quick check to see if there was any obvious signs of a break and everything looked good so I set off down to the bottom, lots of pain in my back, neck and head still but completely oblivious to any break in my leg.

I took my time getting down, any thoughts of qualifying long gone from my mind and talked to a few people at the bottom before I headed over to the wheelchair and started getting unstrapped.

I got myself unstrapped from the sitski but just felt too banged up, nauseous and weak to transfer into the wheelchair by myself so got a couple people to help lift me across. As it turned out I had one person grab my legs, and one person grab me under the shoulder and lift me straight across to the chair, still oblivious that I had broken my femur.

When I got in the chair I kind of stumbled forward, because the femur was no longer supporting me, and thought something was wrong. I could immediately see abnormal movement in my left femur and knew straight away what had happened.

I still couldn’t feel any pain, which kinda makes it even more freaky. I could feel the vibrations and crunches of the bone on bone so knew it was a break, I didn’t know if it was open or closed though. One of the other skiers wives held my lower leg in place to provide some support and I let everyone know what’d happened.

Once the ambulance arrived I got transferred and taken to the hospital. Three hours later I was in surgery and had a rod inserted at the knee, all the way up the full length of the femur. It’s slightly ironic that the area that’s broken is the only area of my legs I have any sensation very, very little sensation, but I’m still able to feel some things. It’s very vague and I can?t pinpoint the area at all, or differentiate between a feather or a red hot steak knife but sometimes if I’m touched on that thigh I can feel it.

I’m sore and in pain pretty much everywhere, my broken leg hurts because it’s broken and has a big metal rod in it, my unbroken leg hurts because it always does and I get phantom/nerve/neurological pain there (whatever you want to call it, it hurts) and my entire back, neck and head are aching, swollen and bruised from the last four days of crashes and wipeouts.

Apparently it’s good to go pretty much straight away. Apart from the issue with pain, I’ve started the insurance ball rolling and should be getting repatriation flights sorted out for as soon as I’m ready. I’m in no rush whatsoever though, getting lifted on and off aircraft my baggage handlers is about as comfortable and enjoyable as it sounds without a broken femur.?

– Andy Campbell/theandycampbell.com

We at TSKJ wish Andy a speedy recovery and hope to see him charging it again soon.


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