Colby Stevenson came up big last night as he took home a silver medal in the big air men’s freeskiing final. He crashed on his first attempt, but two monster runs propelled him to the podium. Stevenson’s comeback may have been a surprise to some, but people who know his story may call it more of a habit.

In May 2016, Stevenson was driving home from a ski competition when he fell asleep at the wheel.

“Shattered my skull,” he said.

To be precise, his skull was shattered into 48 pieces.

There was a time Stevenson didn’t think he would be able to go about life in the same way again, much less ski, but when a doctor gave him hope of full recovery there was no stopping him from getting back to the slopes.

“I kept my head down, lived day-to-day, worked on my recovery at the COE (Center of Excellence),” Stevenson said. “Five months later I was back on skis, definitely not 100 percent healthy but I had the mental strength to push through it. It actually taught me a really valuable lesson in life —  to just not take anything for granted and you know, every day is a blessing that we’re here.”

Eight months after the crash, Stevenson won his first World Cup. The accident changed how Stevenson approached skiing, too.

“I’m living out my bonus years,” he said. “I really took that into competition. Basically skiing for the love of the sport rather than trying to win. That was kind of the big change that happened for me after the accident. We’re all out there living our best lives, doing what we love to do and it’s important to focus on that and there’s not much else more important.”

Before last night, Stevenson, who is one of the world’s best slopestyle skiers, had never placed higher than sixth in a big air event.

Stevenson will compete again in men’s slopestyle. The qualification round kicks off Sunday, Feb. 13, at 11:30 p.m. ET.

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