A Good Sport

With his charming smile and athletic build, Randy Ewing looks like he belongs on the cover of a sports magazine.

And he actually is — the upside-down skier in the middle of a leap on the cover of UCSD’s Recreation magazine. A San Diego native and great conversationalist, Ewing, a fourth year Muir student, is a laid-back SoCal athlete-student hybrid, with a slight distaste for Nor Cal slang (“Ough!” he said in jest at the use of the word “hella”).
You’d probably never be able to tell that less than a year ago, Ewing got into a skiing accident that left him relearning his most basic skills — none of which he can recall.

 “I understand that I had speech therapy and had to relearn how to walk, but I don’t remember,” Ewing said.
Last Thanksgiving, Ewing and his family took a ski trip to Mammoth Mountain.

“The last thing I remember is parking the car,” Ewing said.

After spending some time on the slopes, he tried a new trick, called the “Cork 720,” and succesfully landed it about 10 times

But on his next try, something went wrong. It’s the part of his brother’s recorded video of that day that Ewing still has a hard time watching.

Instead of landing flat, Ewing’s skis dug sideways into the ground. His lower body planted firmly in the snow, and his upper body lurched forward in full speed. He fell forward, his head landing full force into hard ice.

“I was knocked out, and I went into a pretty severe seizure,” Ewing, a Cognitive Science major, explained. “I had an acute subdural hemorrhage, which is an injury that actually can kill you.”

Ewing managed to escape death. He was rushed to a nearby hospital and fell into a coma on the way there. He was then airlifted to another hospital, and after a few days transferred to San Diego. He began his rehabilitation in mid-December, which, for the most part, has been successful.

While being able to regain most of his pre-accident skills, he sometimes has trouble remembering small things like names and passwords.

“Around 5 percent of the damage is supposed to be irreversible,” Ewing said. “That’s fine, I can take 95 percent.”

Though it was a trying time for both him and his family, Ewing’s developed a sense of humor when looking back at his ordeal. When he came out his coma, he explained that he was a little bit difficult.

“I was very, very, very confused,” he said. “According to stories I’ve been told, I managed to escape the hospital bed.

I ripped out my air tube, made it a little ways down the hall before I was found and stopped.”

Then there were his alternate identities. When repeatedly asked who he was by doctors, Ewing would take on different characters — one time he insisted that he was a Japanese man, another time that he was Harry Potter.

“Actually, the logic makes sense,” Ewing said. “I was in the hospital a lot, and so was Harry Potter, so I thought I must be Harry Potter.”

Despite his enduring positivity — and his ability to poke fun at himself — Ewing’s journey has had its road bumps.v
Because of the accident, he had to miss the entirety of Winter Quarter — something that the energetic athlete had a hard time dealing with.

“I don’t think I was in a good mental place to go back, looking back now,” he said. “But I really thought I was.”

He also found himself frustrated with the disorientation of his body after the accident. It took a while for him to be able to regain proper balance, and a condition called “intention tremors” on his left side made it difficult for him to coordinate his limbs.

“I just felt really broken,” Ewing said in a rare somber moment, explaining how even a simple task could have been a daunting endeavor. “Stairs were the scariest thing ever.”

But Ewing hardly moped around. He sat in on O-Chem lectures to prepare himself for his spring quarter return, and also went back to his job at Outback Adventures. Through Outback, Ewing began working on his big project. Before he had left for his skiing trip, he had received emails from a foundation called High-Five to screen films at UCSD.

“Since I had to leave work, those emails didn’t get answered,” Ewing said. After he returned, inspired by the recovery of his recent injury, he brought some big ideas back to UCSD.

High-Five is a Tahoe-Based non-profit organization dedicated to raising money and awareness for athletes who have suffered a life-altering injury.

“There are people for whom sports are their passions, that’s what they live for,” he said. “Some of these kids don’t have any form of financial backing. They’re living out of their cars in order to pursue their passion, and they can get pretty severely injured with no backup or support.”

He’s spent the past several months planning an event fundraiser for High-Five, expanding the planned screening to also include the CR Johnson Foundation, which provides scholarships and resources for athletes in helping them
recover from sports injuries.

In a double feature for UCSD athletes, the event will be screening Red Bull’s highly anticipated “Art of Flight,” as well as famous skier Tanner Hall’s “Retallack.” Tanner Hall, who has suffered from his fair share of sports related injuries, will also be making an appearance.

After diligently contacting several different companies, Ewing’s also accumulated a small wealth of sports goods to raffle off, including Armada skis, a GoPro camera, high quality helmets, and even a pass donated by the people who run Mammoth Mountain, whom he thanks for saving his life.

“If you don’t come, you’re a really mean person,” Ewing said about the event, which will also feature live music and free goods.

Going through the logistics that it takes to run something as big as what he’s got planned was no easy feat. But Ewing says that the work keeping him busy was a blessing that helped him power through what would otherwise be an idle recovery period.

As for skiing — he’s not done with the sport. He wasy shaky during his first return to the slopes, but has been slowly improving. Ewing says that the accident has taught him how important his hobby is to him.

“You have to have something to be passionate about,” he said. “Otherwise there’s no point to life.”

The “Get Back at It!” double feature will take place on Nov. 10 in the Price Center Movie Theater.

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