Jake Brown was groggy from all the medication, but he knew where he hurt.
“My wrist is pretty sore and my back and neck feel like I’ve been through a car accident,” he said Saturday morning during a phone interview. “I guess I’ve got a fracture in one of my vertebras, but it’s pretty minor supposedly, so I came out all right.”
Brown, 32, is fortunate to be alive after crash landing from more than 45 feet during Thursday night’s skateboarding big air competition.
He also sustained bruises to his liver and lung, and a mild concussion. The liver injury is what’s keeping him under watch at California Hospital Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles.
“I’m going to check out today,” said the Carlsbad athlete, whose wrist injury is a small bone fracture. “I’m just waiting on an X-ray, and they want to make sure my liver’s not still bleeding. I just want to get out of here, dude.”
Brown, who finished second to Bob Burnquist based on a high-scoring previous run, said he has watched his ill-fated attempt to perform a 720-degree spin across the 70-foot gap and a 540 above the 27-foot-tall quarterpipe wall.
He nailed the 720, a first during a competition, but was too far to the left as he approached the quarterpipe at 40-plus mph.
“I was too far to the left of the ramp, so I started carving across toward the right and I tried to straighten up when I was going up the transition,” he said. “And I started sliding a little bit and the only way to get out of that was to compress, and once I compressed I just shot myself out to the flat.”
Brown, who was about 19 feet above the quarterpipe, said he was in “pure survival mode” as he fell toward the flat part of the ramp, and in mid-air he recalled that a similar thing happened to Pat Duffy, last December on Burnquist’s backyard mega-ramp.
“I already knew my friend Pat Duffy had been in the same situation, and he didn’t come out so hot -- he broke his legs,” Brown said.
Duffy, who did not fall nearly as far as Brown, required extensive surgery -- including the use of screws and a plate -- to repair a broken leg.
“I was just trying to work out how the best way to fall would be,” added Brown, who at the last instant, as he was flailing, turned and feet and back end first.
Eight minutes later he was helped to his feet, raising an arm for the crowd, and escorted to a wheelchair in the hallway.
Asked why he did not ask for a stretcher, he replied, “I knew what happened and I just wanted to test my body and see how wrecked I was, you know?”
Brown showed up Saturday at the Home Depot Center with skateboarders Danny Way and Pierre-Luc Gagnon.
“I’m doing great, I’m still walking so what more can I ask for,” he told the crowd.
The fall was shown on the big screen and he remarked as he hit the floor, “Shoes everywhere, lights out.”
He walked to the top of one of the jumps and acknowledged the crowd again. “I cant wait to come back.”