Snowboarder eyes comeback after breaking neck at Olympics

From bottom to top; Pierre Vaultier, of France, Jarryd Hughes, of Australia, Markus Schairer, of Austria, and Hanno Douschan, of Austria, runs the course during the men's snowboard cross elimination round at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

VIENNA — The Austrian snowboarder who broke his neck in a crash at the Olympics last week is considering a return to the sport.

"It's the easiest way to get healthy again," Markus Schairer said on Friday about a possible comeback. "But it's way too early to take that decision now."

The 30-year-old Schairer underwent surgery on the fractured fifth vertebrae in his neck in an Austrian hospital on Monday, four days after he slammed into the snow on his back. He lost control in the air on the final jump of the downhill course during the Olympic snowboardcross quarterfinals.

"I am glad and thankful that everything went well," Schairer said about the surgery.

The Austrian posted X-ray pictures of his neck on his Instagram account.

With no indication of long-term damage, the three-time Olympian is expected to need three months to recover.

Schairer has won four World Cups, and took gold at the world championships in Gangwon, South Korea, in 2009 and silver four years later.

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