ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA (AFP, REUTERS) – Japanese snowboarder Rina Yoshika is out of the Beijing Olympics after injuring her spine in a heavy fall in practice on Thursday (Feb 3), the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) said.
The 22-year was taken away in an ambulance after crash-landing coming off a jump on the snowboard slopestyle course at the Genting Snow Park.
The JOC later said she had suffered a spinal injury but was not paralysed.
She will not compete in the slopestyle or Big Air events at the Games as planned, and will return to Japan once she has received the necessary medical care.
Yoshika lay motionless after her crash and when a medical team rushed to help, she cried out in pain when they tried to move her.
It took almost 20 minutes for Yoshika, wearing training bib No. 24, to be moved from the course on a stretcher.
The Beijing Games, which open on Friday, are taking place in one of the driest regions of China and rely almost entirely on man-made snow.
American snowboarder Jamie Anderson, a reigning two-time Olympic champion, said on Wednesday she had been scared trying out the slopestyle course and its artificially made surface, calling it "bulletproof ice".
"I think the majority of it is artificial snow so it's not quite ideal," Anderson said, adding "you definitely don't want to fall".
The women's snowboard slopestyle competition is set to begin with qualifying on Saturday.