Kevin Pearce

Q&A with Kevin Pearce as ‘The Crash Reel’ sets to air

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The HBO debut of “The Crash Reel,” a documentary on snowboarding and the sport’s growing risks, shouldn’t be anything new for Kevin Pearce.

He’s seen the film, he’s lived the film and he’s been asked (and asked and asked) about the film. The opportunity to watch it on TV at his parents’ home in “the middle of nowhere” in Vermont on Monday night (9 ET) is still exciting.

“Pretty badass,” as Pearce put it.

Pearce is the focus of the 1-hour, 49-minute chronological compilation of home movies, interviews and snowboard footage directed by the Oscar-nominated Lucy Walker.

While Pearce never reached the Olympics, the film is very much about the Games from the opening scene. Key dates are identified as “XXX days before the Vancouver Olympics,” such as Dec. 31, 2009, 49 days before the Games.

A six-second clip from that New Year’s Eve morning is played three times throughout the film. Pearce is shown on a halfpipe run in a red jacket and dark pants with people on a ski lift in the background. He attempts the sport’s new, bar-raising trick, the cab double cork (a twisting double back flip). He misses. His head hits the snow, face first, with a sickening thud.

The rest of the film dives into Pearce’s rivalry with Shaun White and emotionally steps through his rehab from a traumatic brain injury. Freeskier Sarah Burke, who died on the same halfpipe in a training accident in 2012, makes a few short but powerful appearances in the film.

We’ll hold off on further details to let viewers learn on their own, but it sufficiently earned its place at the Sundance Film Festival and SXSW.

Pearce took time to answer questions about the film and his future in a telephone interview.

Q: What did you hope to accomplish with this film?

Pearce: What I really wanted was mainly to spread the word and spread the awareness of what a traumatic brain injury entails because I never had any idea until I had to muscle through it and drive through all the hard stuff and come back from it. I really tried to show people what was involved in the whole process, the power of family. What a supportive family can do to help somebody who is suffering, how it shows a family can help you come back and recover from what you’re faced with.

Q: What did you learn from seeing the finished product?

Pearce: I think really what I learned from it is what’s possible in life. It was super helpful seeing where I was, seeing what I put friends and family through and where I was at the end. I’m still fighting, but I got through the hardest parts of it. I made my way back.

Q: The footage of your crash is shown a few times in the film. What do you think when you see it now?

Pearce: If I had a tiny bit more speed and a little more air time, I would have been fine. Someone says it in the film that it was a perfect storm. Everything lined up perfectly that one moment for everything to go completely wrong. Unlucky, how close I was to being perfectly fine.

It’s also hard to think about because what has happened since, and what has come of it. It’s hard to know how to look at it. Was it so bad, or was it good? I woke up this morning and was able to brush my teeth, and a lot of people can’t say that. I look at it both ways. How lucky I am and how unlucky I am.

Q: Have you been back to the scene of the crash?

Pearce: I went back to Park City twice, went the last two years for Sundance, but I haven’t gone down to the mountain yet. It wouldn’t do that much for me to go back there. It’s not like this thing I’ve got to get back up there and come back to that halfpipe. I don’t really need to go near or have any interest of going near that pipe.

Q: Are there any safety measures you would like to see taken in snowboarding?

Pearce: Not at all. These kids should be allowed to do whatever they want. That’s why snowboarding is so special is because there are no rules. There’s nobody telling you what to do. I think helmets should be mandatory in these competitions, but for the most part they are.

It would be very hard on me if (because of me) there become rules in snowboarding. It would feel like I changed the sport.

Q: What are you up to now, and what’s ahead in the future?

Pearce: Public speaking. I’ve been getting out and sharing my story and trying to spread the message of safety and traumatic brain injuries and to share what I’ve been through and try to help kids in that sense. I’ve been announcing the X Games and then also other events. It’s a good way to stay in the sport and stay active in snowboarding.

Q: Are you going to the Olympics in Sochi?

Pearce: I actually am going to Sochi. I am going and carrying the torch at opening ceremonies for Nike.

Aliya Mustafina off Russia’s World Gymnastics Championships team

Aliya Mustafina
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Top Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina withdrew from the World Gymnastics Championships after being set back by injuries this summer, according to the Russian news agency TASS.

Mustafina’s place on the Russian team wavered in September as she tried to overcome health issues, most notably a back injury.

She was included on an original team of seven athletes — of which one would have to be an alternate — on Sept. 23 after being quoted by Russian media earlier in the month saying she would miss the World Championships in Glasgow in the last week of October.

Mustafina, 21, won all-around medals at the 2010 World Championships (gold), 2012 Olympics (bronze) and 2013 World Championships (bronze) and was fourth in 2014 while dealing with health problems.

Mustafina has been a stalwart in the Russian program. With her, the Russian team took silver behind the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics and bronze at the 2014 World Championships.

The seven-woman Russian team for Worlds includes Viktoria KomovaMaria Paseka and Ksenia Afanasyeva, 2012 Olympians who missed the 2013 and 2014 Worlds. Komova took all-around silver at the 2011 Worlds (behind Jordyn Wieber) and the 2012 Olympics (behind Gabby Douglas)

The new Russian star may be Daria Spiridonova, who won the Russian Cup all-around earlier this month and was also put on the seven-woman team for Glasgow.

MORE GYMNASTICS: Fierce Five member to miss World Championships

Usain Bolt beaten in race by boy YouTube sensation on Ellen

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Usain Bolt wasn’t dressed to race, but he took up a challenge from an unlikely opponent at The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday.

The six-time Olympic champion went on the show as part of a Los Angeles visit, three days after he partied at Oktoberfest in Munich for a third straight year. Also Tuesday, Bolt met with USC sprinter Andre De Grasse, who shared bronze in the World Championships 100m behind the gold medalist Bolt in Beijing on Aug. 23.

On Ellen, Demarjay Smith, an 8-year-old YouTube sensation for his videos as a personal trainer, said he could beat Bolt in a race. Watch the segment here.

“100 percent,” the Bronx boy said. “Trust me.”

Then Ellen brought Bolt out from off stage, all three of them did push-ups together and then headed to a parking lot for a race.

“Come on, Usain, don’t be scared of me,” the kid said.

Bolt, wearing jeans, did not back down, even though the starting blocks were positioned backwards. Smith clearly false-started, but Bolt didn’t call it back.

They sprinted for about 15 seconds, with Bolt unable to catch Smith and pulling up before the finish line, holding the back of his right leg.

“I got cramps,” Bolt said. “You got lucky, man. I want a rematch, though.”

Also on Ellen, Bolt talked about training for his last Olympics and that he’s considered moving into acting after his planned 2017 retirement. Watch part of that interview here.

MORE BOLT: Bolt receives gift from Segway cameraman

Big deal business.. Check me out tomorrow on @theellenshow

A photo posted by Usain St.Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) on