Fiala breaks his back in Snowmass Ski Tour race |

Fiala breaks his back in Snowmass Ski Tour race

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

FRISCO ” One of these days, Jake Fiala swears he is going to beat Casey Puckett in a skiercross race.

He’ll have plenty of time to come up with a plan, now that Fiala is out for the season after breaking two vertebrae in his back while trying to pass Puckett in Friday’s Honda Ski Tour semifinals at Snowmass.

Fiala was taken down from the course on a backboard and rushed to the hospital by ambulance, where he went through a number of tests to evaluate the damage. A CT scan showed he had sustained a compression fracture of his L1 vertebrae, and a full fracture of his L4. He was deemed stable and released around 7 p.m.

“I can walk, not fast, I’m just in a back brace,” the Frisco resident said by phone on Tuesday. “I’m going to have to watch the race on TV next week to see exactly what happened.”

Fiala said he was attempting to squeeze past Puckett and another racer during their four-man semifinal heat, when Puckett veered to the right to protect his advantage and sent Fiala soaring through the air into a section of jumps that the racers call “whoop-de-doos.”

“I just missed the press and somehow caught my tail and ended up bouncing across the whoops,” said Fiala, who still ended up eighth overall and took home $1,500 in prize money. “I haven’t seen it or anything ” they said it was pretty bad ” but I was pretty high up (in the air) and landed on a pretty sharp whoop.”

Friday’s race was moved up a day from Saturday because organizers anticipated inclement weather on Saturday. However, Friday turned out to be the uglier day, with flat light making it difficult to take chances on the Snowmass course. Daron Rahlves also crashed, in training, and was unable to race.

Ironically, Fiala also was trying to pass Puckett in the Winter X Games final just down the road at Buttermilk at the end of January, when Puckett veered left to protect his lead ” and the gold medal ” sending Fiala sliding into the course netting in a spectacular crash that made ESPN’s SportsCenter. Fiala held on for the silver medal in that race, his best result in two years on the skiercross circuit.

“I’m bound to beat him one of these days,” Fiala said of his Atomic teammate.

Fiala will miss the final race in the Jeep King of the Mountain series, as well as the final Ski Tour stop at Squaw Valley, Calif. In all, he said he’ll spend the next 2 months in a back brace, unable to bend, lift or twist.

“Eight weeks, I’ll take it,” he said. “It could’ve been a lot worse. Better to happen at the end of the season than at the beginning. Plus, I’ve heard of a lot worse as far as back injuries.”

“Any kind of ski racing, you’re on the edge,” he said. “And I was on the edge. I wanted to beat those guys.”

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