Canadian ski legend Dave Irwin, the original Crazy Canuck, remains in critical condition after hitting his head during a training run at the Export A Extreme Skiercross at Sunshine Village.
Whistlers Steve Podborski, another Crazy Canuck and a close friend of Irwins, acted as the family spokesman during a press conference on March 26. Podborski confirmed that the 46 year old was in a coma and on life support.
Dr. Ann Kirby, the attending Intensive Care Unit Physician at the Calgary Foothills Hospital told the assembly that Irwin had a significant brain injury and the whole brain is bruised.
"His long-term outlook is hard to predict at this time," said Kirby. "There is no quick recovery.
"One-third of the patients have a good recovery, one-third are bad and are left severely disabled and dependant, and one-third do not survive. Generally speaking with these types of brain injuries we tend to sedate the patient to facilitate the recovery."
Podborski said he was optimistic that Irwin would recover from the injury. "The doggedness and determination of Dave will help him pull through this."
News of the incident sparked a huge outpouring of support for Irwin and his family from across Canada and around the world. The hospital has been flooded with messages from people who remember the man who helped to spark a golden age in Canadian alpine skiing history.
"The Irwin family are deeply appreciative of the support from around the country and around the world," said Podborski. "It is wonderful to hear their messages of encouragement."
Irwins aggressive and out of control racing style either put him into the fence or on to the podium, earning him the nickname the "Crazy Canuck". Together with Ken Read, Dave Murray and Steve Podborski, Irwin helped put the Canadian Team in the international spotlight in the late 1970s and early 80s.
Irwins best World Cup finish was a victory in a downhill at Schladming, Austria, in 1975, which earned him a spot in five Canadian Sports Halls of Fame.
He has remained active, recently winning the Hyundai Legends of Skiing Downhill in Vail, Colorado on March 15.
Irwin was wearing a helmet when he lost control on the challenging course and crashed head-first into the hard-packed snow. He was evacuated by helicopter, first to Banff Mineral Springs hospital and then on to the Foothills Hospital.
According to Fred Bosinger, general manager of Sunshine Village resort and a friend of Irwin, "It happened on a fairly easy part of the course."
Irwin was the second downhill legend to sustain a severe head injury last week. Bill Johnson, the 1984 Olympic downhill champion, crashed in a training run for the U.S. national championships at Big Mountain, Montana March 22. Johnson, who at age 40 was attempting a comeback, is also in a coma.