Charles Russell Johnson III (C.R. Johnson) was a professional skier and a pioneer in the freeskiing movement. He became a top competitor and a favorite in ski films and was known for his progression, fearlessness, and passion for skiing.
C.R. Johnson was born and raised in Truckee, Lake Tahoe California. He grew up skiing Squaw Valley Resort. At Squaw Valley, Johnson spent his time lapping the terrain park and charging difficult chutes and bowls. Johnson quickly developed a large range of tricks and excellent big mountain skills. In addition to skiing, Johnson enjoyed surfing, fly-fishing, traveling, and spending time with close friends and family.
In 1999, Johnson emerged on the freeskiing scene when he successfully landed a 1440. The skiing community quickly recognized CR as a talented young star who could help progress free skiing. CR was a fearless skier willing to try any tricks and ski any backcountry lines. His passion for skiing and dedication to improve propelled him to become one of the best free skiers in the world.
On December 8, 2005, Johnson was filming his latest movie, Show and Prove, when he suffered a life-changing injury. He was skiing at Brighton Ski Resort in Utah on a powder day, when he and Kye Peterson, along with the snowboarders Zach Siebert & Tommi Ylianttila, launched off natural features under the Millicent chair, one after another. Johnson being the first one to descend stopped after landing an air to collect his gear, when Kye Peterson struck him right below his helmet. The impact knocked Johnson unconscious for about three minutes. When help arrived he was immediately sedated and flown to the University of Utah Hospital. There he was put into intensive care but his recovery was questionable. For 10 days, Johnson remained in a medically induced coma. However on December 18, 2005, Johnson opened his eyes halfway. Eight days later Johnson began whispering, eating, and moving both sides of his body. He was then moved out of the critical care unit to a neural rehabilitation unit, where he began speech, physical, and occupational therapy and workout along side Roy Tuscany. After being hospitalized for 34 days, Johnson was finally able to return home.
Johnson was determined to start skiing again. He was not going to let his life-changing injury prevent him from doing what he loved. In 2007, Johnson began the ski season with the attitude and mindset that he would return to his original form. In 2008 and 2009, Johnson traveled and filmed with several ski production companies. He continued to improve and in 2010 Johnson placed third at the Red Bull Line Catcher event in France.
On February 24, 2010, at age 26, Johnson died skiing at Squaw Valley Ski Resort in the Light Towers area. He had chosen an extreme rocky line to go down the mountain and caught an edge on an exposed rock which caused him to fall. Medical assistance arrived several minutes after the incident but pronounced him dead on the scene. His death had significant impact throughout the freeskiing, mountain sport, and especially in the Squaw Valley community.