Skier Johnson Moved To New Hospital

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Kalispell, Mont. April 11, 2001 (AP)--Former Olympic downhill champion Bill Johnson, who has been in a coma since a crash at Big Mountain ski resort last month, was moved Wednesday to a Portland hospital to be closer to family.

Johnson, 41, remained in a coma, but has improved enough that doctors felt it was safe to move him, said Jim Oliverson, a spokesman for Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

``He's doing so well, as is evidence by the fact that he's being transferred,'' Oliverson said. ``He's been up in the wheelchair. He opens his eyes. This morning, he drew his knee up in bed, which is a wonderful movement.''

Johnson was placed on a charter flight to Portland, where he'll he treated at the Providence Portland Medical Center.

Johnson was critically injured when he crashed at about 50 mph during an FIS downhill race before the U.S. Alpine nationals in March.

Johnson's crash happened while he was trying to stage a comeback and qualify for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. He won gold in the downhill in Sarajevo in 1984.

His mother, D.B. Johnson, lives in a Portland suburb. Oliverson said she had asked doctors for permission to move her son to Portland as soon as they felt it was safe.

``She made it very clear it had nothing to do with the care he received here, but with her desire to have him closer to home and family.'' Oliverson said.