NH native Walker wipes out in Sochi ski event
Franconia native Tyler Walker took a serious skiing spill at the Paralympic Winter Games on Saturday and then got a lift from a Russian helicopter.
"I'm OK! I don't remember crashing, but I didn't break anything," Walker posted on his Facebook page. "Thanks so much for all the support, it means everything. I totally got a ride in a Russian helicopter, though!"
A photograph posted on his Facebook page showed Walker, apparently in a hospital bed, with his face red with scrapes from hitting the snow hard.
The 27-year-old Walker - a 2004 graduate of Bethlehem's Profile High School and 2008 graduate of the University of New Hampshire - was skiing in the men's downhill sitting competition on a single ski when he went airborne and hit the ground several times before laying motionless facedown in the snow.
"Tyler Walker took one of the worst mono-ski crashes we've ever seen in today's downhill competition," said a Facebook comment from Northeast Passage, a privately funded UNH program that helps individuals with disabilities enjoy recreation.
"Hard to watch. He was airlifted off the mountain and later Tweeted that he is OK and has no broken bones," the Facebook post said. "We're so relieved he's in stable condition, and we're sending him good vibes and positive thoughts."
Nine of 21 skiers who started the race didn't finish.
Katie Branham, spokeswoman for the U.S. Paralympics, said Walker's status for the Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, was in flux.
"He will not race (today)," she said in an email. "We will let you know about the other races later in the week."
Last month, Walker, who now lives in Aspen, Colo., won the overall championship in the men's sitting class at the International Paralympic Committee Alpine World Cup Final in Italy.
Walker was born with lumbar sacral agenesis, a condition that left him without a spine after the first veterbra, according to his biography at teamusa.org. At age 4, because he had no control over his legs, doctors amputated them at the knees.
Besides skiing, he also enjoys handcycling, skateboarding, canoeing, knee boarding, tennis and hockey.