Snowboarding Tricks Get More Difficult, Dangerous

Olympic hopeful Kevin Pearce sustained serious injury during difficult trick.

ByABC News via logo
December 31, 2009, 6:14 PM

Jan. 5, 2010 — -- As the Olympic qualifiers for snowboarding are set to start today in California, one fresh-faced hopeful will be missing from lineup.

One of the country's best boarders, Kevin Pearce, is in critical condition in a Utah hospital after he was seriously injured last week during a training exercise, prompting some to consider whether the extreme sport has become too extreme.

Pearce, 22, suffered what doctors called a "severe traumatic brain injury" when he smashed his head on the ice after attempting a trick on the half-pipe called the double-cork; a twisted double back-flip.

"I think it was a matter of 'when,' not 'if,' someone was going to be hurt doing that trick," Snowboarder Magazine editor Pat Bridges told "Good Morning America."

Click here to see a video of snowboard superstar Shaun White performing the double-cork.

The move was barely attempted a few years ago but is now nearly a must for a winning run and for any boarder looking for an edge.

"Part of that edge is going harder, going bigger, going fast and doing more difficult tricks," Bridges said.

The half-pipe structure used at the Mammoth Mountain, Calif., where the Olympic qualifying events are held, has 22-foot-high walls, guaranteeing the potential for big falls.