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Snowboarder injured in backcountry of Little Cottonwood Canyon

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Posted at 12:19 PM, Feb 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-25 18:23:35-05

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah -- Rescue crews responded to assist a snowboarder who sustained leg and hip injuries in the backcountry Monday morning.

Lt. Justin Hoyal, Unified Police Department, said it happened at approximately 10:30 near lower Lisa Falls in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

23-year-old Alex Gavic was out snowboarding with friends, including Shane Hillyard, on Monday morning.

"We found these awesome, basically there's rocks with a bunch of powder on them. So he said, 'I found a line,' we picked it out and he goes, 'I'm going to hit this thing,'" Hillyard said.

But something went wrong, and Gavic injured himself.

"He was just like, 'I'm in super pain, and I need to get out of here as fast as I can,'" Hillyard said. "We've been through a couple of broken arms and legs and things and so we know what pain is. So when I saw him like that and he said, 'No dude, something's wrong.' Then as soon as I saw the blood, that's when we really started getting worried."

Hillyard says Gavic was wearing all the necessary pads, but the injuries were so severe, they decided to call 911.

"It took about eight minutes to get to the victim, where they realized they were going to need the assistance of LifeFlight in hoisting him out of the area that he was in," said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal.

Gavic was flown to University of Utah Hospital in critical condition with leg and hip injuries.

"I feel broken for him. You could tell he was in a lot of pain. He's going to be alright though," said David Vanartsdalen, Gavic's firend.

Gavic and his friends are experienced and have made numerous snowboarding films, but Hoyal says there is always danger in the backcountry.

"I think what's important to remember is that whenever you're in the backcountry, there's natural hazards all over, and to just continually be aware of your surroundings and any of those hazards that might be present," Hoyal said.

Gavic's friends say that despite his injury, he was in good spirits and it's only a matter of time before they're on the slopes again.