The 22-year-old from Norwich, Vt., was preparing for next week’s Olympic qualifying events in Mammoth Mountain, Calif. He was considered, along with Shaun White, to be one of America’s top athletes in a sport dominated by the United States.
Olympic halfpipes are essentially hollowed out ice shells, the sides of which rise up to 22 feet in the air. Riders gain speed as they go from one side to another and fly several feet over the edges, where they flip and spin, often rotating 720 or 1080 degrees on a single jump.
Three weeks ago, Pearce fell during a preliminary run at an Olympic qualifying event in Copper Mountain, Colo., and sustained a concussion.