Cameraman becomes 'cushion' for freefalling Olympic freeskier

Freestyle skier Jon Sallinen had an unfortunate cameraman to thank at the Beijing Olympics after crashing into him on Thursday, helping to provide a "cushion" from a heavy fall.

The Finn flew out of the halfpipe on his first qualifying run at Genting Snow Park and collided into the cameraman, who was leaning over to film his trick.

Sallinen landed heavily on his collarbone on the side of the halfpipe and "felt some movement and heard some cracking" before getting up and skiing gingerly back down to the bottom.

The 21-year-old said after the competition that he thought he had broken his collarbone but he was "lucky not to land on my head".

"I maybe got a little cushion from the camera guy," said Sallinen, who thought about pulling out of the competition before deciding to ski his second run.

"I hope the cameraman is all good because I landed directly on him."

Sallinen fell again on his second run and missed out on the final after finishing last in the 23-man field.

He was not the only skier to crash in a competition taking place under steady snowfall.

New Zealand's Ben Harrington came down hard on the edge of the halfpipe and lay on the ground not moving for a few moments.

A team of medics rushed to his aid while New Zealand team-mate Nico Porteous cut short a TV interview and vaulted a barrier to check on him.

But Harrington got up after a few minutes and walked off the course, saying afterwards that his body was "OK".

"You've still got to pay to play," said the 20-year-old.

"I'm just bummed out more than anything. I really wanted to be in that final."

© 2022 AFP