Boarder left partially paralyzed after jump
A local teenager was paralyzed from the waist down in a snowboarding accident at Buttermilk Mountain recently, and is lying in a Grand Junction hospital bed recovering from spinal surgery.Eben Mallory, 17, of El Jebel, was negotiating the second of three jumps at the Buttermilk snowboard park three weeks ago when he crashed.”I guess I somehow picked up too much speed … where I came down was past the landing spot, where it was pretty steep,” Mallory recalled from his hospital bed on Friday.”I was just going straight off,” he added, explaining that he was not attempting any trick moves that may have contributed to his crash landing.He said he fractured his right wrist and damaged his spine in an area he said has been described as the T-12 vertebrae, a little above the waist.He said he had to undergo surgery to relieve pressure on a nerve, and that it is not known how long he will be paralyzed or if he will recover.”They don’t really say,” he said. “They say it’s just going to take time to tell.”He said he had gone over the same jump “many times” before, and that he had never before experienced a “serious” injury while snowboarding.According to a local snowboarding shop manager, while some of the jumps at the Buttermilk park are high on the scale of difficulty, they are not dangerous under normal circumstances.”I think it’s just conditions” that can cause problems, said Michelle Johnson of D&E Snowboards in Aspen, adding that sometimes kids get overly enthusiastic with their stunts.”They do crazy things,” she conceded. As for the jumps in general, she said, “Some of them are really difficult. But I think it’s just conditions that can make for problems. The conditions are really icy and hard right now.Aspen Skiing Co. officials indicated they have not gotten complaints from either snowboarders or the public in general about the snowboard park.”That deal with Eben Mallory was very unfortunate,” said Buttermilk Mountain Manager Peter King. “It’s really awful.”In general, he said, the snowboarding public is pleased with the snowboard park.”The local riders seem real happy with what’s going on there,” King said. “And it hasn’t stuck out that there’s a lot more injuries at the snowboard park than anywhere else.”Skico attorney Dave Bellack said he has not heard any complaints about either the safety of the jumps at the park, or that they are too difficult for the general riding public.Some snowboarders feel the biggest jump at the park, which is situated lowest on the hill above the Bumps Restaurant at the base of the mountain, is not for beginners or even intermediate riders.”It’s too much for some of these kids,” said one boarder, who declined to give his name, at Buttermilk last weekend.
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.