Olympian Bill Johnson Injured

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Big Mountain, MT, Mar. 22, 2001--Olympic champion Bill Johnson was critically injured in an accident at the Chevy Truck U.S. Alpine Championships Thursday at The Big Mountain in Montana. Johnson, the 1984 Olympic downhill champion, was undergoing surgery at Kalispell Regional Medical Center Thursday afternoon.

Johnson, who has been in a season-long comeback bid, was navigating a right turn through a section of course known as theCorkscrew, when he lost control and impacted the snow hard before sliding through protective fencing. He was treated atthe scene for head trauma and transported by Alert medical helicopter to Kalispell Regional Medical Center, about 20 milessouth.

The accident occured shortly before 10 a.m. MST. Johnson went into surgery shortly after noon, and was still in surgery at3:30 p.m. He is under the care of neurosurgeon Dr. Rob Hollis.

Johnson won three World Cup downhills and the Olympic gold in 1984. He continued racing until retiring after the 1989season. He started his racing comeback in November, and has been racing on the Nor Am circuit in the United States andCanada for five months. He had skied the Big Mountain course the previous two days in official training.

Thursday's accident came in a non-championship event. The first official championship event is scheduled for Friday.