US Olympic Snowboard Contender Seriously Hurt
Kevin Pearce strikes his head during training
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2009 6:22 PM CST
Kevin Pearce launches in the air during a practice run during the Winter X Games 13 in Colorado in January.   (AP Photo/Nathan Bilow)
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(Newser) – One of the top US snowboarders was seriously injured today when he struck his head performing a risky maneuver in training. Kevin Pearce, a 22-year-old Vermont resident, will undergo a procedure in Utah to relieve pressure on his brain after he hit his head on the half pipe. Pearce, a favorite to make the Olympic team, had been training for a qualifying event with some of the world's top snowboarders, reports the New York Times.

He had been trying to pull off a double cork, a new move that amounts to a "twisting double back flip," writes the Times' John Branch. “He did it a little too hard, put a little too much oomph into it, and over-rotated on his second flip,” said coach Mike Jankowski. Pearce has gained renown by being one of the few snowboarders in recent years to defeat legend Shaun White in direct competition.