Alaska's two Paralympians out of Games with injuries

Beth Bragg
Reed Hoffmann

Alaska's two Paralympic athletes are gone from Sochi, leaving with more injuries than when they got there.

Palmer's Andrew Kurka and Juneau's Joe Tompkins both injured themselves in crashes during training runs for the men's sit-skiing downhill race at the Paralympic Games in Russia.

"I was excited to get the chance to represent my country. Perhaps a bit (too) excited," Kurka, 21, posted on Facebook. "During a training run in Sochi I crashed and broke my back."

Kurka, a first-time Paralympian, told the Daily News he crashed after launching off a jump on the course. and s than when they got there.

On his Facebook page, Kurka said he suffered compression fractures on his T-5 and T-6 vertabrae. He said he plans "on being back at in in no time."

Kurka was partially paralzyed at age 13 in a four-wheeling accident at Jim Creek. Tomkins was injured in a 1988 car accident.

Tompkins, 45 and a four-time Paralympian, said on his Facebook page that he's in Germany awaiting surgery on hip Monday. He said he crashed in Thursday's training, as did Kurka.

"Joe broke his femur in the training run (and) I broke my back," Kurka said on Facebook. "There were some brutal crashes on that course."

The downhill course at Sochi's Rosa Khutor Alpine Center claimed its share of victims in Friday's men's race, in which 10 of the 22 racers failed to finish. Among those who crashed was Tyler Walker of Aspen, Colo., whose spectacular spill made a lot of highlight reels and knocked him unconscious. He was airlifted off the mountain and later said on Facebook that he was fine.

"I don't remember crashing but I didn't break anything," Walker's post said. "Thanks so much for all the support, it means everything. I totally got a ride in a Russian helicopter, though!"