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Mt. Hood, OR, Nov. 30, 2001–It wasn’t an Olympic trial or a 75 mph downhill, but Olympic champion Bill Johnson was back on snow Friday at Mt. Hood. Johnson, whowas nearly killed in a racing crash last March, donned a helmet and clicked into his Atomic racing skis for a few runs on Mt. Hood, not far from his home in Gresham,Ore.
It was an uplifting experience for the 41-year old Johnson whose crash in a FIS race prior to the Chevy Truck U.S. Alpine Championships last March at Big Mountain,Mont. nearly claimed his life. Doctors performed critical surgery in the hour after the accident to give Johnson a chance. The rest, including an arduous physical andmental rehabilitation, he did on his own.
Johnson was all smiles after a few easy runs on Mt. Hood, just looking to get back on skis to enjoy the sport which shaped his wild and crazy career.
The Olympic champion talked with reporters after his brief outing and expressed satisfaction with his effort. “It felt great, I turned a lot,” he told the Associated Press.
Johnson’s life has changed dramatically since that day in Montana. He has little recollection of the accident and has been making a slow recovery, first in a rehabcenter and lately at home with his family in Oregon. His comeback, once focused on being a part of the 2002 Olympic team, has now turned to regaining his physicalskills and mental accuity.
Friday’s small ski outing at Mt. Hood was both symbolic and realistic. Billy Johnson is back on skis.