BEIJING, China — The U.S. ski team says American skier Nina O’Brien has sustained a compound fracture of her left tibia and fibula after falling toward the end of the women’s giant slalom at the Beijing Games.
Monday’s race had to be delayed for about 15 minutes when O’Brien slid across the finish line at the end of her second run. She was screaming in pain after stumbling through the last gate as her skis crossed in front of her. For most U.S. viewers, the race happened in the early hours of Monday morning.
O’Brien was taken to a hospital in Yanqing for “an initial stabilization procedure” and the team says she will return to the U.S. for further evaluation and care.
"Nina would like to express her gratitude to all of the people who assisted her so quickly in the finish area at the race, and especially to the doctors and nurses at the hospital who have taken such great care of her," a statement from the ski team read.
O’Brien, who is 24 years old, had been sixth fastest after the opening run.
The crash came hours after another mishap for the U.S. alpine ski team. Top star Mikaela Shiffrin, the defending gold medalist in giant slalom, missed a gate early in her first run and slid off course. She was disqualified from the event.
After O'Brien's crash, Shiffrin tweeted that they "are so heartbroken for Nina.. she showed so much heart and fire in her skiing today, and it all got shredded to pieces on the final turn."
"The warrior that she is, she will get back stronger and speedier than ever, with the same upbeat and kind attitude that is trademark Nina. But tonight w'ere all just sad and crossing our fingers for the best news possible," Shiffrin wrote.
Several skiers crashed or went off course in what was the first day of competition at the Olympics.