It was Friday the 13th after all.
Nicolas Yopp was freeriding off Outback Chair at Mt. Bachelor when an unexpected bump threw him just slightly off balance. A skier since as long as he could walk, Yopp is a championship racer and not easily thrown. But he was railing a GS turn at 60 miles per hour at the time.
"I'm not exactly sure what happened after that," explains a self-described "loopy" Yopp, still groggy from pain medication. "Once I caught an edge that propelled my body to flip and I tumbled down the hill a few times. I must have jammed my boot against the hardpack snow somehow in the process."
The result: A broken tibia and fibula, and immediate reconstructive surgery, which added even more screws to a plate already there from a previous mountain biking accident. More broadly, it also means that Yopp, a deaf ski racer from Sisters, will not be able to compete at the Deaflympics to be held in Russia at the end of this month.
It was especially disappointing because it is the second time that Yopp will miss the Deaflympics at the height of his prowess.
The Deaflympics has been operating summer games since 1924 and winter events since 1949—the second longest running multiple sporting event, and the first major sporting event for athletes with physical limitations. The winter games include hockey, snowboarding and skiing. Instead of a starting gun, skiers are cued by visual aids.
In 2011, the Deaflympics were slated for Slovakia. Three days prior to the event, though, they were canceled when it was discovered that the Deaflympic officials were embezzling money.
"It was a crushing blow to me and all the athletes who had trained hard and fundraised for the big race," Yopp explains. He has previously competed in two Deaflympics—in Sweden 2003 and Salt Lake City 2007—but he was hoping that his third international competition would be the charm, and a top finish. "Deaflympics Russia was going to be my redemption," Yopp explains. "I felt prepared for it and was getting excited."
He was also planning for the Russia event to be his curtain call from competitive skiing. Twenty-nine years old at the time, Yopp was ready to call it a career following Russia, and now, four years later, even though he won't have a chance for another Deaflympics competition, he plans to stay the course.
"I have had a long ski race career," he says. "I still plan on retiring. There are so many other things in life I want to focus on like traveling with my partner and working on building my work career."
Yopp has been skiing since he was a toddler, and he acknowledges he will always be a skier at heart; he even entertains the idea of racing in the masters class in years to come.
"I have been race skiing since I was a little kid," states Yopp. "I grew up in Sisters, so Mt. Bachelor is really my home mountain in many ways."
He adds, "In general, all the support I've received from the deaf community and my friends has been amazing. . . I would like to thank Cara Frank, my girlfriend, for her support. Also, my family and friends. Also, my coach, Greg Timm, who worked with me every week. Some local supporters helped me towards my fundraising goal too. An additional thanks to Oregon Adaptive Sports for their sponsorship."