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Johnson Improves Enough for Transfer to Oregon

April 12, 2001|Associated Press

KALISPELL, Mont. — Former Olympic downhill champion Bill Johnson, who has been in a coma since a crash at Big Mountain ski resort last month, was flown Wednesday to a Portland, Ore., hospital to be closer to family.

Johnson, 41, remained in a coma, but has improved enough that doctors felt it was safe to move him, said Jim Oliverson, a spokesman for Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

"He's doing so well, as is evidence by the fact that he's being transferred," Oliverson said. "He's been up in the wheelchair. He opens his eyes. This morning, he drew his knee up in bed, which is a wonderful movement."

Johnson, who traveled to Portland on a charter flight, will continue his recovery at the Providence Portland Medical Center.

Johnson was critically injured when he crashed at about 50 mph during an FIS downhill race before the U.S. Alpine nationals in March.

Johnson's crash happened while he was trying to stage a comeback and qualify for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. He won gold in the downhill in Sarajevo in 1984.

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