Johnson taking a practice jump in 1999 at the ESPN X-Games in San Francisco. (Adam TurnerAP/File)

By Mark Memmott

The death yesterday of world-class free skier C.R. Johnson at California’s Squaw Valley has cast a shadow north to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where American Julia Mancuso says she is dedicating her run in today’s women’s giant slalom to her fallen friend.

“These 2010 Olympics are almost done for me,” Mancuso wrote on Twitter this morning. “This last run is for CR Johnson. Gonna rip it for.”

Another Olympian, American Jeret Petersontweeted earlier that “we’ve lost a friend and innovator in our sport. CR Johnson, you are loved and will be missed.” Peterson competes in the finals of the men’s aerials competition later today.

According to the Associated Press, the 26-year-old Johnson was skiing a steep chute when he fell on to some rocks — hitting the back of his head. Though he was wearing a helmet, the blow was fatal.

ESPN Action Sports’ Micah Abrams writes that:

“Johnson was known in recent years for his inspiring return to skiing after a traumatic brain injury that he suffered in December of 2005. The injury, sustained when another skier accidentally landed on him during a run, left him in a coma for 10 days. He spent 34 days in the hospital and several months in rehab, but was back on snow by the end of that winter. He made steady progress in recent seasons and this winter finished third in the prestigious Red Bull Linecatcher event in the French Alps.”

Here’s a video from Red Bull that shows the kinds of things Johnson and others like him can do:

REDBULL Linecatcher 2010

TV coverage of the Games is on NBC and its sister networks.

NPR’s coverage, begins here.

There’s also the nprolympics Twitter feed. You can see the updates as they come in right on our main page.

The Games end on Sunday.

Update at 1:30 p.m. ET. Spoiler alert. If you don’t want to know about the outcome of the women’s giant slalom event earlier today at the Olympics, don’t read on:

“Unheralded Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany has taken a surprise victory in the Olympic giant slalom, with the first-run leaders slowed by dense fog. … Tina Maze of Slovenia was second. … First-run leader Elisabeth Goergl of Austria added another bronze. … Defending champion Julia Mancuso of the United States finished eighth.” (Associated Press)

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