At the U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Telemark Championship, held at the Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado on Saturday, one of the top competitors had a very bad crash. Early reports indicate that EJ Poplawski, the second place finisher last year, broke a ski in half while landing a big drop. He tried to ski it out, but crashed hard into a tree.
Among a concussion and other injuries, he broke his tibia and fibula (the lower leg) and severed the femoral artery — a life-threatening injury. It took several hours to get him off the mountain and life-flighted to advanced emergency care, by which time the damage was done. During four surgeries, the doctors were forced to amputate below the knee as they were unable to reattach the femoral artery. Unfortunately, it now appears the doctors anticipate having to amputate above the knee.
Poplawski is currently at Denver Health and Hospitals in Colorado with his parents and siblings. A fund to help with expenses is being set up by Mitch Weber, the owner of TelemarkTips.com.
Poplawski grew up in Vermont, but has been living in Salt Lake City and skiing at Alta for several years. A Google search shows that Poplawski tied for sixth place (out of nearly 100 male competitors) at the U.S. Free Skiing Nationals Qualifier held at Snowbird in February. He also took 11th place at the Alpine Meadows Telemark Freeskiing Championships just three weeks ago.