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Injured aerialist back in the swing of things

February 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A local aerialist, who became famous for a stunt gone wrong, is back on her feet. Sarah Romanowsky fell to the ground during a Hunky Santa performance at the Beverly Center.Sarah Romanowsky was part of the "Hunky Santa" show, when a stunt went awry and sent her hurtling toward the ground. But today she is back on her feet.

Romanowsky has been a dancer all her life and she'd been working as an aerialist for three years, so the deft way she handled herself three stories above the ground was second nature. She considers herself an artist, but doing aerial work is an extreme sport, and with extreme sports there is always risk.

Romanowsky was working as one of Hunky Santa's Candy Cane Girls in a performance at the Beverly Center last November to attract shoppers to the mall. But suddenly, a routine that had become second nature went horribly wrong.

Mobile-phone video shows Romanowsky losing her grip on a 36-inch hoop and horrifying onlookers as she plummeted an estimated 20 feet through the air. She says she's still not sure how it happened -- one moment she was hanging upside down, and the next she was hurtling toward the ground.

"The second my hands left the hoop -- until about two hours later I really remember almost nothing," said Romanowsky.

The 26-year-old suffered a broken pelvis, six broken ribs and a shattered wrist, but the director of the show says Romanowsky's injuries could have been so much worse had she not have fallen in almost textbook fashion.

"Textbook fashion would be landing where you get the least possible injuries," said Romanowsky. "I could have landed on my head, hurt my spine, but I am walking two months later."

And miraculously, Romanowsky says she is pain-free.

"Not at all," said Romanowsky. "I was in the hospital for 11 days and I've really tried to stay as positive as possible throughout this whole ordeal."

And she's wasted no time getting right back on the tissue and the hoop.

"I knew the whole time that I had to get back, I knew that I couldn't let fear keep me from returning," said Romanowsky. "I feel stiff, not quite as flexible, and I'm convinced it will all come back."

Romanowsky says she works without a net or a safety harness by choice because she says they can inhibit movement and sometimes get in the way. She says the performers are trained how to fall. And in her case that training became instinctual.