It was the one crash that almost cost Shaun White a trip to the 2018 Winter Olympics. The crash occurred in New Zealand when White’s snowboard hit the top of the halfpipe. The two-time Olympic gold medalist was doing a double cork 1440 when his board clipped the top of the halfpipe, folding in on him. He ended up hitting his head and then began to fall head-first, according to NBC Sports.
You can see this in the graphic video above.
It’s hard to watch White get so banged up. Although plenty of athletes have had some gnarly falls, this one was particularly scary, even for White.
“I just like scared myself. I’ve never really had that much blood coming out of me before,” White said from his hospital bed.
White, who shared some pretty bloodied-up photos on Instagram, sat in the snow while waiting for help. The white powder around him had been sprayed red from the blood gushing out of his face. He ended up needing 62 stitches to close up the wounds. He had gashes from his forehead to his mouth, his upper lip getting the worst of it. In fact, White’s lip is actually blurred out in the video above.
“The wall itself is about 22 feet, so I flew all the way down. I’ve fallen that way a million times. It’s kind of a perfect situation where I hit right on my lip and split my lip open. … I was bleeding a lot. I got up and rode down to the lift off area. I wasn’t knocked out. I ended up riding myself down to the paramedics office, the ski patrol. They’re like, look, the hospital is really far away, so I ended up taking a helicopter to the hospital and getting patched up,” White told NBC Sports.
The next day, things got even worse for White.
White’s lungs began filling up with blood following the crash, according to NBC Sports. He suffered a pulmonary lung contusion which left him in intensive care.
“Pulmonary contusions occur when injury to the capillary membranes of the lung leads to the collection of blood within the interstitial spaces. This causes alveolar hemorrhage, consolidation, and edema, leading to decreased lung compliance, ventilation-perfusion mismatch, hypoxia, and respiratory distress. Complications of pulmonary contusions include pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and, in rare circumstances, death,” reports Science Direct.
White was determined to get back to snowboarding, however, and he knew that he needed to qualify for the upcoming Winter Games — and that’s exactly what he did. He was advised to “take a few weeks off” by his doctors. But as soon as he was feeling up to it, he got back to training.
“He was 11th at January’s Winter X Games — his worst finish there since 2000 — but then finished first, second and first in his last three events. He peaked at the finale, the U.S. Open in Vail, Colo. White landed a cab double cork 1440 and a double McTwist 1260 in one run for the first time, according to The Associated Press,” NBC Sports reported.
And now, he’s set to take on the halfpipe in PyeongChang, South Korea, even though he still has stitches in his tongue from October’s crash.
He is the oldest U.S. Olympic halfpipe snowboarder to compete in the Olympics, but he’s fired up and ready to go.
You can watch White go for his third gold on Tuesday, February 13.