Kurka OK after X Games crash (Skiing)

February 23, 2011

After two Alaskans won medals at X Games 15 this year in Aspen, Colo., Andrew Kurka of Palmer was primed to join the club.

The 18-year-old is Alaska’s top mono skier and Challenge Alaska’s top athlete, a threat to podium every race.

Yet it wasn’t mean to be this time as Kurka crashed during practice and injured his back, keeping him out of the competition.

“I bottomed out my shock and got a compression fracture,” he told me. “When I first got injured it was hard to breathe for about two days because of the pain. But it’s been gradually getting better and now it’s like it never happened.”

He can’t get back on the mountain until the first week of March.

“The doctor says to stay safe,” he said.

Easier said than done; Kurka has always lived fast.

He manages to slow down long enough to dream, though.

One of his career goals was to compete at the X Games, where he joined fellow Alaskans Cory Davis of Soldotna and Callan Chythlook-Sifsof of Dillingham.

He didn’t win a medal, but settled for a good time.

“The vibe was definitely fun,” he said. “Everyone was having a blast while staying seemingly professional. I spent most of my time in the athlete’s lounge talking with people, watching the events and eating the free food.”

Even better, he got invited back.

“I feel fortunate to have seen what I’ll have to prepare myself for next year,” he said.