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Ellis Breaks Back Vertebra in Accident

February 23, 2006

SESTRIERE, Italy (AP) _ American skeleton racer Kevin Ellis broke a vertebra in his back Thursday while competing against members of the U.S. luge team in a non-Olympic sledding event being filmed for television. Ellis was being transported to a hospital in Turin for further evaluation and treatment, said U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel.

There was no immediate word on Ellis’ condition, but the first-time Olympian did have movement in his extremities, Seibel said.

``There is no paralysis,″ Seibel said.

Attempts to reach other members of the U.S. skeleton team by phone and e-mail were not immediately successful.

Ellis, a 32-year-old accountant from Dallas, was 17th in the men’s skeleton competition at the Turin Games. He was ranked a career-best fourth in this season’s World Cup standings.

Skeleton season ended with the Olympic races, and Ellis has indicated that he’s strongly considering staying on the U.S. national team for at least the next World Cup season and possibly make a bid for a spot on the 2010 Olympic roster. It remains to be seen how Ellis’ injury will affect his plans.

He was one of five athletes in a friendly sliding competition at the Snow Show, an organized sledding hill in Sestriere on Thursday, joined by skeleton Olympians Eric Bernotas and Katie Uhlaender and luge Olympians Christian Niccum and Erin Hamlin. The hill is part of the Cultural Olympiad, near the athletes’ village.

The competition was filmed and scheduled to be aired later in the Olympics by an NBC affiliate.

Ellis was a two-time All-American hurdler at Stephen F. Austin, and competed in the 110-meter Olympic hurdle trials prior to the 1996 Atlanta Games. He was hired as the skeleton team’s manager in 1999, and became a full-time member of the World Cup circuit in the 2002-03 season.

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