As junior Porter Shattuck spun in the air, his back facing the ground, his eyes gazing up at the sky, he knew he was in trouble. “In those few seconds, I thought I was done for,” Shattuck said.
Luckily, he wasn’t alone during this – his friends were watching him.
“The second he went airborne, it was like his skis were being yanked out from under him,” junior ski team member Alex Rogers said. “He got too much air on the jump and it sent him sideways, and there was no recovering from that – he was locked in, and was going to fall on his back.”
As Shattuck fell to the ground, he could feel the wind being knocked out of him. “I was lucky to have both Alex [Rogers] and Esten [Barker] there to help me out, because I couldn’t even stand or breathe,” Shattuck said. “I was worried I’d gotten paralyzed. The pain was excruciating, all throughout my back,” Shattuck had to wait on the mountain for a full hour.
While Shattuck was receiving help from Rogers and Barker, they noticed their skiing friend, Ivan, who had stopped by to help. Ivan called their ski coach, Quincy, who called ski patrol. They were then taken down the mountain to a parking lot where Shattuck was put into an ambulance.
“My heart was racing the whole time,” Rogers said. “Even now I’m surprised I was able to stay calm with how scary the situation was. I could barely sleep for a week after.”
At the hospital, it was discovered that Shattuck’s T10 and T11 vertebrae, right along the middle of the spine, were fractured. Shattuck, thus far, has managed to cope well with the accident.
“My recovery’s been quick so far, and aside from carrying my backpack around, movement is really easy for me right now,” Shattuck said. “For about a week it was incredibly stiff – I couldn’t move without feeling intense pain and I had to sit in specific ways,” Shattuck said.
Shattuck, despite his quick recovery, still has his limits – he cannot “lift anything over 10 lbs, run, do push-ups, or perform tasks involving great physical ability.”
Shattuck’s spinal injury, overall, was not debilitating. “Luckily, my parents are going to allow me to continue skiing in the future, even after the accident, because they know how important it is to me,” Shattuck said.
Shattuck is constantly asked questions such as “are you okay”, “can you walk?”, or “are you still going to ski?”. Shattuck’s answer to all of those questions are “I’m fine, and I can’t wait to return to skiing.”