Tahoe woman who had near-death ski accident featured on cable show
Premiering tonight at 8 on Discovery Health Channel, “Impact: Stories of Survival” features the story of Anna Kanarowski of Truckee, who lost control on a steep, ungroomed slope while competing in the World Extreme skiing championship in Valdez, Alaska.
In the April 1997 accident, Kanarowski lost both skis and tumbled spectacularly 600 feet down the frozen face of the mountain, crashing into rocks and falling over steep cliffs before coming to a stop. She suffered massive internal bleeding – a torn liver – that could have killed her. Instead she was in the hospital for five days and is now completely recovered.
“This was one of the best and luckiest stories we’ve told because the film of her fall says it all,” said Bob Niemack, executive producer of the show. “How Anna survived this fall is miraculous.”
Filming the fall was John Sandy, a ski filmmaker, who gave Niemack the authorization to use the film.
The hour-long program follows Kanarowski’s case, as well as three others, from the moment of life-threatening impact through rescue, treatment and recovery. Their lives flashed before their eyes, but thanks to swift rescues, skilled doctors and cutting edge medical techniques, they all lived to tell their tales.
For Kanarowski, a Washoe County School District teacher, the experience was all too real. Conscious the entire time of the fall, she said her head came to rest just feet from a rock. Had she hit the rock, she would have died.
“I remember stopping and thinking, and knowing that something inside of me wasn’t right,” she said. Rushed to the hospital, she discovered that her liver was torn. Surprisingly, she had no other damage to her body and no broken bones.
“It was one of those stories where she should have died but she didn’t. She was in such tremendous shape that she walked away with her life,” Niemack said.
Kanarowski said she was happy to lend a hand to the Discovery Health Channel Film.
“(The accident) has been on TV before. Some of the shows have been good and others not so good, but this one seems like it has a really good purpose other than showing the shock of it,” Kanarowski said.
The program begins at 8 p.m. on Discovery Health Channel. Check your local TV listing for channels on Charter digital cable or your satellite provider.