After Brain Injury, Colby Stevenson Miraculously Returns to Pro Skiing

In 2016, U.S. Freeski team rider Colby Stevenson fell asleep at the wheel.

The resulting crash was nothing short of life-changing. Stevenson, 24, suffered a “midline shift,” a form of traumatic brain injury in which impact, swelling, or both caused his brain to shift laterally several millimeters. The crash heavily affected his motor function and memory, and a full recovery was unlikely.

But, miraculously, Stevenson regained coordination and was cleared to try skiing again. But it remained uncertain whether his vertigo would hold up to skiing — and if his brain had the capacity for muscle memory.

In the 2020-2021 winter season, Stevenson’s perseverance and luck carried him back to the X Games. It also carried him to a gold medal at the Dew Tour this past weekend. Watch his journey in “Nerve,” a short, eye-opening film by fellow freeskier Clayton Vila.

Runtime: 9 minutes

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Jilli Cluff

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing — and life would never be the same. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear family. She is based out of Atlanta, Georgia where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.

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