The man rescued from a chairlift at Arapahoe Basin earlier this month gave his first public interview on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which airs Tuesday.
The man, identified only as “Richard” on the program, appeared with his rescuer, Mickey Wilson and they both recounted the rescue, as Wilson had done to Denver7 earlier this month.
Watch the portion of the episode with Richard and Wilson embedded below or by clicking here.
Richard told Ellen that he had been reluctant to publicly talk to anyone about the rescue before the two got the opportunity on her show.
“I wanted to keep the focus on the real hero here and the rescue, and I didn’t think I had much to contribute to that story,” Richard told Ellen. “I really think the story is about the miracle of Mickey having the skills and ability to jump up there and do what he did in that instance.”
Richard had only met Wilson the morning of the incident. The two had skied with friends at Arapahoe Basin before Richard’s backpack got entangled in the chairlift, causing him to slip and hang from his neck by his backpack.
“[Mickey] called me up and said, ‘I got this opportunity. Ellen wants to meet us,’” Richard said. “I said, ‘Wow, I mean, it’s Ellen!’ I really like you and I wanted to come do it,” he told her.
“He was stoked to talk to you,” Wilson told Ellen. “He really believes in your cause and all the great things you do.”
Richard told Ellen that he was unconscious for about four minutes as Wilson, a professional slackliner from Golden, climbed up the chairlift tower, crawled down the cable and was able to cut Richard down so Arapahoe Basin Ski Patrol could give him CPR, which Wilson told Ellen was “the best ski patrol in the world.”
Richard chalked up his extensive swimming experience and ability to hold his breath for long amounts of time as reasons his brain was not more negatively-affected by the lack of oxygen.
He said he suffered a broken rib, a few bruises and that he was “a little bit sore here and there,” but called his rescue “a miracle.”
But he reserved most of his praise for Wilson.
“I wanted to be able to say thank you publicly…so I’m really thankful to be able to do it here and be able to say thank you in person,” Richard said.
DeGeneres rewarded both of them with a seven-night stay and airfare to Hawaii’s Big Island, and said though they could go at different times, they should probably go together.
“You can go separately, but I’d bring him with you,” Ellen said to Richard, laughing.