American women's four cross and BMX racer, Tara Llanes, is paralysed from the waist down after crashing in the Jeep King of the Mountain in Beaver Creek, Colorado last Saturday.
Llanes was racing against Jill Kintner in the semi-final when she crashed, breaking her seventh cervical vertebra. She required seven hours of surgery in Denver Health Hospital to stabilise her, and has undergone further surgery since then.
Llanes' family reported that she is "now breathing on her own and able to communicate with friends and family. Unfortunately at this time she has no feeling below her waist, a symptom she suffered as a result of her crash.
"Since coming out of surgery, Tara, drugged and very happy, has kept in good spirit and has promised not to let this beat her ... We are hoping Tara will be able to come back home in one to two weeks."
A relief/rehabilitation fund is being set up, with details to be confirmed later this week. In the meantime, messages of support can be left on www.myspace.com/mtbtara while flowers/gifts can be sent to:
Denver Health Medical Center
777 Bannock Street
Denver Colorado, USA, 80204
From BMX to 4X and back
Tara Llanes started as a BMXer in 1988. She moved to mountain biking four years later and has established herself as one of the top female racers in the Four Cross/Dual Slalom disciplines. Her career highlights include two US NORBA dual slalom championships, one NORBA downhill championship, and numerous medals at the world championships. She had returned to BMX racing this year in order to try to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.