Freeskier ‘Baby J’ Daiek in hospital following accident
June 3, 2011
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – South Shore freeskier Josh “Baby J” Daiek is recovering in a Reno hospital room after a collision with a tree that he said could have been far worse.
Daiek, 28, was skiing with two friends at Kirkwood Mountain Resort when they set up above a natural jump in ski area’s Eagle Bowl about 11 a.m. Sunday.
He had been hitting the jump all year, Daiek said during a Wednesday phone interview. The jump sends skiers between a pair of trees.
“Conditions were awesome, I was all fired up,” Daiek said.
But as he approached the lip of the jump at an estimated 35 to 40 mph, he hit a chunk of ice hidden underneath about a foot of fresh snow.
The collision sent him hurtling sideways towards one of the trees.
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Realizing he was headed for an impact, Daiek was able to spin his skis in front of him in a bout of “quick problem solving.”
He struck one of the trees about 15 feet up and fell to the snow, briefly losing consciousness. Hitting the tree feet-first may have saved his life, Daiek said. The impact shattered his bindings and skis.
Following the accident, a friend was able to contact ski patrol using a cell phone. Paramedics then drove Daiek to Carson Valley Medical Center, where he was airlifted to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno.
Helicopters were unable to fly to Kirkwood Sunday afternoon because of high wind and low visibility, said Care Flight spokesman Kurt Althof.
Daiek suffered seven broken ribs, a punctured lug and a lacerated liver in the crash. He said he expected to leave Renown’s Intensive Care Unit Wednesday and be out of the hospital entirely in a couple of days.
He said he was having a hard time moving around, but was otherwise in good spirits.
“All things considered, I’m feeling pretty good,” Daiek said.
Daiek’s injuries cap an otherwise successful year for the South Shore resident, including a top finish at the North American Freeskiing Championship’s Kirkwood stop in February.
He said he had hoped to compete in freeskiing events in Chile and Argentina this summer, but those plans are likely on hold as he recovers.
Daiek said he definitely expects to return to competition next winter.
“All and all I feel pretty fortunate, pretty lucky,” Daiek said.