Austrian snowboarder breaks neck in crash at Olympics

Have questions about the Big Air event? Let these Olympic snowboarders explain the rules. USA TODAY Sports

An Austrian snowboarder broke his neck in a crash Thursday, but doctors have ruled out serious permanent damage, the Austrian Olympic committee said in a statement.

Markus Schairer fractured his fifth cervical vertebrae during a quarterfinal race in snowboard cross at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, sailing through the air and landing gruesomely on his upper back and neck on the course's final jump. The impact caused the 30-year-old's goggles to pop off and left him lying on the ground while his competitors crossed the finish line.

Schairer somehow returned to his feet and finished the race under his own power.

The Austrian Olympic committee said in the statement that Schairer, who was in fourth place at the time of his crash, will be transported back to Austria by medical personnel "as soon as possible." There are no early signs of neurological impairment or long-term damage, according to the committee.

This is not the first serious injury that Schairer, who also competed in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, has suffered while racing. According to his Olympic profile, he broke five ribs in a crash at the 2010 X Games, then fractured a joint and tore four ligaments in his left shoulder during another race in 2013.

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