Team USA moguls racer George McQuinn has regained consciousness and is being evaluated by doctors after hitting his head on the final jump of his super final during FIS World Cup action Thursday at Deer Valley Resort.
McQuinn, of Durango, Colo., appeared to hit the back of his head on the takeoff for the second jump. His body immediately went limp and he slid on his stomach, head first, down the remainder of the Champions course. Team USA medical personnel and ski patrollers raced to the finish, where McQuinn was stabilized and placed on a backboard. He was transported down the hill on a sled pulled by a snowmobile.
A short time later, US Freestyle team communications liaison Lara Carlton said McQuinn had regained consciousness and was “seeking medical evaluation.”
McQuinn was the only American man to reach the super final in Thursday’s World Cup moguls races at Deer Valley, which are also serving as Team USA’s final Olympic qualifier. He qualified with the third-highest score in the six-man super final after topping the leaderboard through much of the 16-man final.
After a stoppage of about 15 minutes, competition resumed. Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury, the world leader and defending Olympic gold medalist in moguls, had the misfortune of being the next competitor down the course. He shook off the shock of the moment, however, to turn in the winning run, climbing a World Cup podium for the 100th time in his career.
“This one is for him,” Kingsbury said. “I know this was his first super final. He’s an exciting skier with a bright future. I just hope he’s OK and we get to ski in a super final in the future together.”
McQuinn has been electric in the final races before the Olympics. A second-place finish at the national championships and a couple of wins at a U.S. moguls selections event in Winter Park earned him his first World Cup start last week in Mont-Tremblant, Canada. He finished 29th of 53 competitors the opening day and moved up to 19th the following day.
In the opening event at Deer Valley, he went right to the top, where he fended off challenges from a stacked international field primed for the Olympics as well as several Americans who call Park City home. They included two-time Team USA Olympian Brad Wilson, who placed ninth, and Cole McDonald, who was among several athletes who skidded off the course.
Wilson thought he had done enough to podium, pumping his fist and giving a big smile following his run. The judges, who were not on site, thought differently.
“I don’t really know what they didn’t like about my run,” Wilson said. He added, “I felt like I could have had it today. I was feeling good with today, and usually when that happens, I end up on the podium. But today wasn’t one of those days.”
Nick Page, another Park City skier who calls Deer Valley home, did not compete in the finals even though he qualified in second place and could have secured his place at the Olympics with a finish on the podium. Page, who watched the event from the media area, said he’d taken a spill in the finish area during one of his runs and withdraw out of an abundance of caution. He said he hoped to be back in action for Friday’s races.
Deer Valley is celebrating its 20th year of hosting an FIS Freestyle World Cup, which includes aerials and moguls competitions. The events typically are held at night, but they were moved to the afternoon this year. Carlton said that decision had to do with the event being held earlier in the season, to fit it in before the Olympics.
Kingsbury said that made conditions difficult, especially in the super finals.
“It was not easy,” he said. “With the weather, obviously it was getting darker. And since it was warm this afternoon, the snow started to crisp. So it gets harder and it’s faster for your feet. And with that happening, yeah, you’ve got to breathe and kind of de-connect the fact that, you know, a guy that you know hurt himself bad. You’ve got to focus on staying in the present moment.
“I hope he is OK,” he added of McQuinn.
Japan’s Ikuma Horishima, who raced last, took second place and his teammate, Kosuke Sugimoto, placed third.
The difficult conditions also threw the women’s super final for a loop. The first three women in the six-woman race crashed or skidded off the course. That included the two American super finalists, Olivia Giaccio and Elizabeth Lemley.
Kai Owens crashed on her finals run. Tess Johnson was 10th and Hannah Soar, who along with Jaelin Kauf has already secured her spot in Beijing, placed 15th.
France’s Perrine Laffont won the event, followed by world leader Anri Kawamura of Japan and Jakara Anthony of Australia.
Moguls racing continues Friday at Deer Valley with qualifying starting at 9:30 a.m. and finals beginning at 2 p.m.