A professional free skier C.R. Johnson, 26, was killed Wednesday afternoon while skiing at Squaw Valley, Calif. He was reportedly taking a run down a steep chute on the signature Light Towers when he smashed his head against a rock outcropping.Johnson was skiing with a group of friends when he fell at a “very, very tight, rocky area.”
Johnson fell face first, then spun around and struck the back of his head on rocks, according to the AP report. He was reportedly wearing a helmet, but Rogers said the helmet took a serious blow. Rogers said that Johnson was skiing for recreation with friends and not as part of a competition.
“He’s the defining person who put halfpipe skiing on the map,” two-time Winter X SuperPipe champion Simon Dumont told ESPN Action Sports. “He’s a huge part of how halfpipe skiing is right now.”
C.R. Johnson was the first skier to complete a 1440 — four complete 360 degree spins — which he performed at his home mountain of Squaw Valley.
In 2002, he had competed in superpipe and halfpipe skiing at the X Games and won the US Open against Tanner Hall in 2002.
In 2005, Johnson survived a life-threatening accident at Brighton resort in Utah when another skier accidentally landed on him. Johnson sustained a serious traumatic brain injury and was placed into a medically-induced coma for 10 days. Incredibly, Johnson was back in action by the end of that winter after spending several months in rehab, where he had to relearn even basic motor skills like swallowing and talking.
Johnson was a two-time Winter X Games medalist, earning bronze in the 2001 Big Air and silver in the 2002 slopestyle.