An American pro snowboarder is recovering after getting swept up and buried alive by a backcountry avalanche in the area around Whistler.
Eighteen-year-old Brock Crouch and a team of other pro riders were shooting a snowboard film when the slide happened last Sunday.
“It took me through about 1,000 feet and over several rock bands before I ended up at the bottom, buried with no oxygen for almost 5 minutes.”
Shin Campos, who was acting as the safety co-ordinator for the film, says the crew snapped into action when they heard the avalanche.
“A big, not explosion but a big… hard to describe, just rushing that you can just hear. A big rumble, I guess a big rumble,” he said.
“So we uncover his head, get his airway clear, he’s like, you know, blue or like, you know extremely… he’s not responsive. But as soon as we get his airway clear, he starts moaning and you know, we’re like, ‘Oh, OK, he’s alive.'”
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In his Facebook post, Crouch attributed his survival to his team, who he described as “some of the most experienced people in the world when it comes to backcountry safety.”
“I can’t thank everyone enough for all the love I’ve been shown the last few days. I especially want to thank our pilot, Justin, John, Cam, Mark and Shin for saving my life,” he wrote.
“I love snowboarding more today than I ever have and I can’t wait to get back on my board and shred with everyone again!”
Crouch, a member of the U.S. Snowboarding pro slopestyle team, knocked out five teeth and suffered a torn pancreas and serious bruises to his eye and face. He also fractured his L2, L3 and T12 vertebrae.
Amazingly, he wrote, none of the injuries were serious enough to require surgery.
Campos said Crouch was released from Vancouver General Hospital on Friday, and has now made his way home to California to start his recovery.
Crouch has competed in three X Games and was also part of the 2017 U.S. Surfing team that won gold at the I.S.A. World Junior Surfing Championships in Japan.
— With files from the Canadian Press