Luke Mitrani injured the C5 vertebra in his neck on Sunday after landing on his back in the Cardrona Alpine Resort halfpipe in New Zealand. According to U.S. Snowboarding Medical Director Kyle Wilkens, Mitrani underwent surgery Monday to stabilize the fractured vertebra, and the surgery was successful. Mitrani is reported to be neurologically sound but will continued to be monitored.
"The past two days have been terrifying," Mitrani wrote in an Instagram post on Monday, along with a photo of himself in a neck brace at Christchurch Hospital. "I was paralyzed for the first few minutes... slowly got the feeling back and then got air lifted on a two hour helicopter ride to Christchurch. Surgery consisted of them taking part of my hip bone out and then cutting my throat to re-place and stabilize my neck... Thanks to everyone for the love and good vibes. I'm so grateful to say that I'm gonna be okay. Appreciate every second of this life while we have it!"
Mitrani, a pipe top competitor, had been in New Zealand training for this week's Burton High Fives event, as well as the run-up to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Though he narrowly missed the cut for the U.S. Olympic Team in 2010, Mitrani finished the 2012-13 season in the fifth spot in the World Snowboard Tour pipe rankings, with an overall title in the U.S. Grand Prix of Snowboarding to his credit. He had entered the current Olympic qualification season primed to earn a spot on the 2014 U.S. Team.
Mitrani's older brother Jack, also an accomplished pro snowboarder, arrived in New Zealand on Monday and promptly shared a new photo of Luke from the hospital.
"Words can not express the feeling of seeing this smile on his face and knowing he is going to be okay," Jack wrote. "Thank you for your love and support everyone. We can rest assured that he is going to be okay. Much love."