SAO PAULO (AP) — The Brazilian Olympic Committee said early Wednesday the gymnast who was expected to compete in freestyle skiing at the Sochi Games is unable to move her arms and legs following an accident while training in the United States.
The committee said in a statement that Lais Souza, who participated in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics, is being treated at an intensive care unit at University of Utah hospital. Doctors said she is “awake and can follow commands” but is breathing with the help of ventilators.
The BOC said Souza needed surgery to have her spine realigned after sustaining “severe trauma” in Monday’s accident in Salt Lake City.
“Lais has a long recovery process in front of her,” Team Brasil doctor Antonio Marttos said in the statement. “A long-term prognostic cannot be predicted at this time. Her medical team is doing everything possible to allow her to have the best recovery possible.”
The BOC said the 25-year-old Souza was wearing a helmet when the accident happened as she skied “freely” alongside Canadian coach Ryan Snow at Park City. The committee said she was not injured while practicing her freestyle maneuvers, but no other details on the accident were provided.
Souza was trying to become the first Brazilian to compete in freestyle skiing at a Winter Games. She didn’t automatically qualify for Sochi, but was still expected to earn a spot for the event.
She missed the 2012 Olympics as a gymnast because of a hand injury.
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