Starting Lineups: Watch 'The Crash Reel' As A Winter Olympics Primer


This week, snowboarding has been a major topic of conversation surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Unfortunately, it's been for the wrong reasons. That's because two Olympic snowboarders have already been injured practicing on the Sochi slopestyle course, as Finland's Marika Enne hit her head and was carried off on a stretcher one day after men's favorite Torstein Horgmo of Norway broke his collarbone on the same course.

It's led Shaun White, the most recognizable snowboarder on the planet, to pull out of the slopestyle competition, which in turn sparked a bit of a controversy as Canadian snowboarders Sebastien Toutant and Max Parrot then threw some Twitter barbs White's way.

The injuries and the trash talk brought to mind the story of Kevin Pearce, who at one time was White's biggest rival in snowboarding. Sadly, Pearce suffered a severe brain injury in a crash while training for the 2010 Olympics and then had to completely rebuild his entire life — relearning how to speak, walk and just about everything else.

Pearce's story is masterfully detailed in the documentary "The Crash Reel," which I watched a few months ago. It is a fantastic documentary that shows the rise of Kevin Pearce as a snowboarder who competed against White since childhood to the rivalry he developed with White as the two traded spots on the podium. It also talked about their rocky relationship and then reminds everyone just how dangerous the sport is, as Pearce suffers a traumatic brain injury that rendered him a shell of his former self. In fact, due to his brain injury, the Kevin Pearce that results is not the same Kevin Pearce that wowed snowboarding fans before his injury. His brain does not function in the same way, and as a result result his personality has been altered.

In the end, Pearce has been forced to stop competing in snowboarding events, as another traumatic brain injury could be lethal. It's a sad yet remarkable story, one that shows the difficult transition athletes — and their families and friends — must make when they can longer do what they've always done … or when their sport puts their lives in danger.

So as you're watching these Olympic snowboarders amaze us in Sochi, don't forget what they're all laying on the line every time they take off.

Links …

DataBall - Grantland

The Anatomy of A Stopper: Talking With Andrei Kirilenko, the off-ball superstar - The Brooklyn Game

Finnish Soul Is Reflected in Goalies - The New York Times

The NFL's most tortured fan bases - Sports on Earth

Update: George Zimmerman Will Fight DMX Because Nothing In This Life Makes Any Fucking Sense Anymore - Philebrity

Ken Griffey Jr. Owns Over 100 Copies of His Rookie Card - SI's Extra Mustard

For the Birds - Grantland

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar And The Ways Basketball's Past Created Its Future - Studio@Gawker

How Ryan Perrilloux disappeared completely - SBNation

The Big Book Of Black Quarterbacks - Deadspin

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