Bill Johnson remains in coma |

Bill Johnson remains in coma

KALISPELL, Mont. – Former Olympic downhill champion Bill Johnson remains in a coma, more than a week after crashing during a practice run, but has been removed from a ventilator, a hospital spokesman said Monday.

Johnson, who turned 41 Friday, continues to improve, but his long-term prognosis remains uncertain, said Jim Oliverson, spokesman for Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

“We’re in that long, dark tunnel right now where all we can do is wait,” Oliverson said. “But he remains stable. All of the tubes are out; the ventilator is out. He still needs minor assistance breathing but he’s off the ventilator and that is very good news.”

Johnson won the gold at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics after brashly predicting victory. He was attempting to stage a comeback for the 2002 Winter Olympics this season. On March 22, he crashed during an International Ski Federation downhill practice run at Big Mountain resort.

Oliverson said that while Johnson has not regained consciousness, he continues to respond to his environment, raising his eyebrows when people speak to him and moving his arms and hands when stimulated.

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