Kevin Pearce was an Olympic hopeful, driven not only to make the U.S. team but to win the gold medal--and he probably had the best chance of beating defending Olympic champion Shaun White next month at the Vancouver Games.
Now the Olympics are not remotely important to Pearce, or to his family and many friends, who are hoping and praying the star halfpipe rider will recover from the horrific accident he endured during training in Park City, Utah, on Thursday.
Pearce, 22, of Norwich, Vt., remains in critical but stable condition in a Utah hospital with an injury suffered when he struck his head above the eye on the icy halfpipe wall during practice for next week's Olympics qualifier at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.
Pearce, who was knocked unconscious and underwent surgery to relieve fluid buildup, had become White's only real nemesis. He beat White at the Burton European Open in 2008 and 2009. Some thought his silver-medal run during last winter's X Games was better than White's gold-medal run, which was scored a mere point higher.
But Pearce didn't state such during the media session afterward. He took his silver without complaint on that chilly night in Aspen, but it was clear he was not content and that he was driven to win, not to finish second. Hopefully, that drive will help carry the personable athlete through his current ordeal.
Fans who wish to deliver some positive energy can do so on a Facebook page that was set up for this purpose on Friday. Pearce and his family, undoubtedly, will appreciate the support.
-- Pete Thomas