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Brazilian gymnast turned freestyle skier cannot move arms or legs after training accident

Kevin Kaduk
Fourth-Place Medal

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Brazilian gymnast and freestyle skier Lais Souza. (Photo courtesy of Facebook via Souza)

A gymnast who was attempting to become Brazil's first freestyle skier at a Winter Games is now facing a long road to recovery after a training accident on Monday. Lais Souza, a 25-year-old who competed for Brazil in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics, suffered "severe trauma" to her spine after crashing during a training run in Salt Lake City. 

The Brazilian Olympic Committee reports that Souza cannot move her arms or legs. She is breathing with the help of ventilators, doctors say, and is awake and following commands. Souza is currently in the intensive care unit at University of Utah hospital. 

From the Associated Press:

''Lais has a long recovery process in front of her,'' Team Brasil doctor Antonio Marttos said in a statement. ''A long-term prognostic cannot be predicted at this time. Her medical team is doing everything possible to allow her to have the best recovery possible.''

The BOC said the 25-year-old Souza was wearing a helmet when the accident happened as she skied ''freely'' alongside Canadian coach Ryan Snow at Park City. The committee said she was not injured while practicing her freestyle maneuvers, but no other details on the accident were provided.

Souza had not yet qualified for next month's Sochi Games, but was expected to earn a bid. The AP reports that Souza missed the London Games in 2012 because of a hand injury. 

The freestyle skiing world has sadly been no stranger to tragedy. Canadian star and halfpipe pioneer Sarah Burke died on January 19, 2012 after suffering an injury during a training session in Park City, Utah. Her memory is expected to cast a large shadow at the Sochi Games

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Kevin Kaduk is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kevinkaduk@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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