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Austrian Snowboarder Markus Schairer Broke Neck, Still Finished Race

A snowboarder about to crash.

Austrian snowboarder Markus Schairer is one of the luckiest Olympians this year. Not so much for his performance, but because the injury he suffered during it could have been much worse.

Competing in the first quarterfinal of men’s snowboard cross, Schairer took a nasty fall, landing hard on his back after flying through the air.

He suffered a fracture of his fifth cervical vertebrae, but fortunately no nerve or spinal cord damage. Incredibly, he finished the race, though he was formally disqualified.

The Austrian Olympic Committee confirmed Schairer's injury. He will return to Austrian soon, per this release.

This is the (rough) translation of the Austrian press release:

Snowboard crosser Markus Schairer suffered a fracture of the fifth cervical vertebra during his fall in the quarterfinals in Bokwang. The good news: Neurological impairments are not present, consequential damage can currently be ruled out. In addition, the Vorarlberger pulled an elbow injury.

The 30-year-old had come to the penultimate jump hard to crash, but could then independently drive to the finish. The return transport to Austria is prepared (with medical assistance), should take place as soon as possible.

Here's the video of Schairer's crash. Again, this dude is incredibly fortunate.

Again, that could have been much, much worse.

The coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics can be seen on NBC and its affiliate networks.