Steamboat Springs For University of Colorado freshman Pat Duran, earning a spot to this week's NCAA National Skiing Championships was a big break.
But a bad break in Sunday's training ended Duran's hopes of helping the CU ski team bring home a national title, and that will keep him out of the men's giant slalom and slalom races in Steamboat Springs later this week.
"I was coming off of my best giant slalom finish of the season -- a third at the regional championship," Duran said. "I was hoping that this would be a chance to break through."
But while racing down the giant slalom course on Con--centration ski run during Sun--day's training, things went terribly wrong for the skier who spent last season training with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
First, he got a little behind in the gates. Then, when he tried to adjust his line, he caught an edge and got flipped backward.
"I got twisted around and went backwards through a gate," Duran said.
He thinks his leg was wedged between the gate and the ground, and the fall snapped his femur, breaking it in five places.
"I knew right away that it was broken," Duran said. "I was sliding down on my back, but I could see that my leg was going in the wrong direction."
Duran said two Utah coaches were the first on the scene, followed by one of his assistants, Jed Schuetze. Duran was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center, where he underwent surgery Sunday afternoon. A rod and several screws where used to repair his shattered leg, and early reports are that he will make a full recovery.
He was still in bed Monday morning, but he plans to be up on crutches in the next few days and cheering for his CU teammates from the finish areas.
"He's a great kid, and a good athlete," coach Richard Rokos said. "He had great hope and excitement when he came here.
"In an accident like this you worry about it being career ending, but they told him he would probably walk out of the hospital tomorrow. So we will pick him up and give him three more years of championships."
Duran and Buffalo teammates Josh Bryan and Lisa Perricone are former members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Duran trained in Steamboat Springs during the 2004-05 season, before joining the CU team right before the school year began. He said he isn't sure what his major at the will be, but he is dabbling in journalism.
Duran was hoping to represent CU when the NCAA Championships opened Wed--nesday with the men's and women's giant slalom races on Concentration. Freshman Jean-Francois Ferreira is expected to take Duran's place.
Other racers with ties to Steamboat Springs include Lisa Perricone's brother, Gaspar Perricone, who will be racing for Utah, and Mark Iverson, who will compete for the University of Montana.