World-class snowboarder Luke Mitrani’s life has been full of twists and turns, not unlike his raging runs in the superpipe. The strength, courage, and determination Mitrani has often relied on to push his limits, will now be depended on as he recovers from a severe neck injury sustained during a September 1 training run.
While preparing for the Burton High Fives invitational event in New Zealand, he fell out of a gnarly frontside double cork 1080 and landed on his back, fracturing his neck within the critical cervical spine area. While being treated and stabilized in the ice-hardened pipe, his mind raced with fear, envisioning a worst-case scenario. “I was thinking if I can ever move, if I'm paralyzed, as long as I don't die I will appreciate every aspect of this life,” said Mitrani in a New Zealand Press interview.
Expert surgical staff repaired his C5 neck vertebrae, to prevent further damage to his spine that could prove catastrophic. In the next few days, likely a whirling blur for him, he rested in his hospital bed, supported by a neck brace. Riding a high from his successful surgery, Mitrani was relieved to be transferred to a nearby Burwood Hospital which specializes in post-surgery recovery. The staff, expert in treating sports injuries like these, guided him through this initial stage of physical therapy.
After a week, they gave him the go-ahead to return home to Mammoth Lakes, CA. On Friday, Mitrani posted on Facebook, “Happy to be feeling much better, last day here in Christchurch...Goodbye Burwood Hospital and friendly staff...Thanks again everyone for all the love & positive energy.”
No stranger to injury, Mitrani has overcome past physical setbacks to return to sport. He soon rejoined his elite-level peers on the unending “hamster wheel” cycle where the mastery of one difficult trick, immediately opens the door to an even scarier world of danger. Here these risk-taking halfpipers must next conquer an even more dangerous maneuver just to keep pace...
Mitrani longs to return to the halfpipe, and is now focused on his road to recovery, bypassing a path to the Sochi Olympics he was hoping to follow this winter.
Yet, athletes who have been rocked by potentially career-ending and life-threatening injuries like these, face challenges that will test not only their physical recovery, but their mental resolve. Akin to the loss of a loved one, a sudden and severe setback often triggers such reactions shock, denial, anger, and sadness – all understandable emotions. Over time, these feelings typically yield to acceptance and adaptation – representing a healed, and now healthier mindset.
In his corner, he will be boosted by physical therapy, mental counseling, and endless encouragement from his extended support network of family, fans, and his “Frends.” During the next several months, Mitrani will surely meet these challenges head-on – in his typical goal-oriented and positive outlook way – and while blazing a newfound trek back to his halfpipe home.