Snowboarder recovering from broken neck
An American snowboarder is recovering in Christchurch's Burwood Hospital after breaking his neck on a skifield near Queenstown.
Luke Mitrani, 23, fell and landed on his back while training in the halfpipe at the Cardrona Alpine Resort on Sunday.
He posted a photograph of himself lying in a hospital bed to photo-sharing website Instagram on Tuesday, and said the past few days had been "terrifying".
"I was paralyzed for the first minutes ... slowly got the feeling back & than got air lifted on a 2 hour helicopter ride to Christchurch," he wrote.
He underwent surgery at Christchurch Hospital that involved surgeons taking part of his hipbone and operating on his neck to stabilise the injury.
Mitrani said he was grateful that he was "gonna be okay".
"Appreciate every second of this life while we have it," he wrote.
Mitrani's brother, Jack, also took to Instagram after the accident, publishing a photo of Mitrani clutching a colourful teddy bear and grinning as he lay in his hospital bed.
"Words can not express the feeling of seeing this smile on his face and knowing he is going to be okay. Thank you for your love and support everyone. We can rest assured that he is going to be okay," Jack Mitrani wrote.
In a second post today, Luke Mitrani said he had been moved to Burwood Hospital to undergo rehabilitation and had just taken his first steps since the accident.
"My nerves on my right hand are coming back to normal and most importantly everything is looking bright for the future. I am very fortunate to have such amazing frends and family. Life is good, even when its a pain in the neck," he said.
Mitrani was reportedly the youngest person to make the United States snowboarding team, aged 12, and last year jumped to fifth in the World Snowboard Tour rankings.