American Figure Skater Crashes Headfirst Into The Ice, Referee Allows Her To Continue

Scrufflet

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1,207
This entire thread ought to be required reading for
1. Skaters (last person to decide to skate after an injury)
2. Partner of injured person (2nd last person to decide to skate)
3. Coach (3rd last to decide)
4. Federation (2nd)
5. Referee - should stop things instantly and have medical professionals decide.
 

kwanatic

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2,738
Didn't read all of the thread but I do feel as though Tim gets a lot of the blame here. Ashley hit her head on the dismount but then her body rolled over her head as she came down which put a lot of pressure on her neck. Then when Tim fell he partially landed on top of her which pushed her neck down even harder. It was clear as day Ashley was unconscious when her legs flopped down like that and she just lay there... yet he sat up and immediately lifted her up (by her head/neck which she just fell on:wideeyes:) and dragged her up to her feet. He got her up so quickly that the ref barely had time to blow the whistle.

I can understand he was probably scared seeing her out like that and, maybe for his own reasons, wanted to make sure that she wasn't seriously injured...which is why he picked her up after about a nanosecond rather than allowing her to get up on her own...or even open her eyes for that matter. It was almost like he was assuring himself that she was okay without taking and time to actually see if she was okay.

It should be a rule after a fall like that the partner is not allowed to pick the skater up unless the skater is clearly awake and attempting to stand on their own. Had Tim not moved Ashley she probably wouldn't have gotten to her feet that quickly if at all. It was very clear she was still dazed by the end of the program as she stumbled several times getting off of the ice. Given that she was not getting up on her own, I think the ref or the coach or someone should have made the call to stop the performance.
 
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madm

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Just throwing my perspective as a skater parent into this conversation. My daughter competed in senior pairs many years ago, and she had a scary accident during a lift at a competition. During their free skate, her partner dropped her head first from their last lift because his shoulder became dislocated. Fortunately he grabbed her as best he could with his other arm as he was falling backwards, which slowed her down, and she put her forearm in front of her head to cushion the blow as she hit the ice. Both skaters were down but conscious, and she got up right away on her own. They finished the skating routine, and he popped his shoulder back into place. It was ugly but the skaters got up on their own and were not concussed. I believe if the skaters are not unconscious and are able to get up on their own, they should be allowed to continue skating if they feel able to do so. However, anytime someone is unconscious, they should not be moved and a medic should be called. A spine or neck injury is a real possibility.

During practices (over many years), my daughter had two collisions with other skaters that resulted in mild concussions. Her vision went black and in one case she couldn't hear out of one ear. Her coach and other skaters immediately stopped skating and waited for her to get up and over to the boards. That was the end of her skating for a week or so and she went to the doctor and had a head scan. If this type of thing had happened during competition, I would have wanted her to withdraw.

I also witnessed a senior pair skater (who later became an Olympian) in competition have her shoulder dislocate on a death spiral, and her partner pushed it back into place and they finished their program. Gruesome and incredible at the same time!!! There is no reason for a referee to stop a program unless a skater is seriously injured (e.g. unconscious, bleeding heavily) and cannot continue.
 

Lacey

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I am very old now, a septuagenarian. When I was 8 and skating for fun, my best friend was doing a forward spiral and I was doing a backward spiral and we were facing each other holding hands, and she was kind of pushing and guiding me. My leg crashed into someone, it flipped from behind me down to skate level and then forcibly flew forwards into the air so that I lost my balance and I came crashing down straight on the back of my head--it was most definitely the back of my head that hit first. In those days, beginner skaters sometimes wore Norwegian-type wool sweaters with fancy silver buttons and matching hats with a tie under the chin, and that is what I had on that day.

I blacked out and remained blind for two hours, could not see anything. The moms on the ladies committee took me in the locker room and asked my number. I was amazingly calm, but the lead mom that day was my 8 year old boyfriend's mom so I trusted her implicitly. For some reason, I told them one number off. They opened the locker and asked if that was my Good and Plenty candy in there, oops I think I lied so I could eat it. They couldn't find my mother for about two hours. I was the 4th child, and she had definitely done the drop and run thing.

My mother later took me to my pediatrician who said I probably had had a concussion and would have had a fractured skull if not for the hat. But I got no hospital visit or treatment, not even ice. No one but me ever knew from that day forward I could no longer do math and had no memory of facts memorized for school tests or of movies just seen. The fall created a real learning disability that I did not have before it. My third grade grades plummeted. I finally had myself tested when I worked for a school district and understood, for the first time, that I wasn't stupid but terribly affected by that fall.

Yes head injuries are horrible. I feel for every one I read about in football and skating, who knew that those so disparate sports would be connected by head injuries?

I did get a whopping case of Vertigo in later life, but that could have been unrelated.

(Don't think I'm crazy, but can anyone else tell if the bun in Ashley's hair might have protected her when she fell?)

No doubt about it, what was that Ref in Ashley's case thinking?
 
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Wyliefan

Trying to appease the skategods
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30,084
You're not crazy, I had the same thought about Ashley's bun. (Unless we're both crazy!) But I don't think she hit that part of her head.
 

AxelAnnie

Like a small boat on the ocean...
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12,722
Just throwing my perspective as a skater parent into this conversation. My daughter competed in senior pairs many years ago, and she had a scary accident during a lift at a competition. During their free skate, her partner dropped her head first from their last lift because his shoulder became dislocated. Fortunately he grabbed her as best he could with his other arm as he was falling backwards, which slowed her down, and she put her forearm in front of her head to cushion the blow as she hit the ice. Both skaters were down but conscious, and she got up right away on her own. They finished the skating routine, and he popped his shoulder back into place. It was ugly but the skaters got up on their own and were not concussed. I believe if the skaters are not unconscious and are able to get up on their own, they should be allowed to continue skating if they feel able to do so. However, anytime someone is unconscious, they should not be moved and a medic should be called. A spine or neck injury is a real possibility.

During practices (over many years), my daughter had two collisions with other skaters that resulted in mild concussions. Her vision went black and in one case she couldn't hear out of one ear. Her coach and other skaters immediately stopped skating and waited for her to get up and over to the boards. That was the end of her skating for a week or so and she went to the doctor and had a head scan. If this type of thing had happened during competition, I would have wanted her to withdraw.

I also witnessed a senior pair skater (who later became an Olympian) in competition have her shoulder dislocate on a death spiral, and her partner pushed it back into place and they finished their program. Gruesome and incredible at the same time!!! There is no reason for a referee to stop a program unless a skater is seriously injured (e.g. unconscious, bleeding heavily) and cannot continue.


I just watched Russia’s Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin at 2004 Skate America:
It took 15 seconds for a whole host of professionals, including a back board to get to her. She appeared to be conscious..........but it was clear that only a professional was gonna move her. It is not just lack of consciousness that determines whether a person can/should be moved...and it is a call that needs to be made by a pro. Certainly not the athlete(s) who can't possibly be thinking straight at that moment.
 

snoopy

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12,274
if Ashley’s neck was implicated, that will likely have impact too. I had a concussion but the neck whiplash had longer effects - the neck tendons would get re-irritated/inflamed very easily and bring back dizziness and headaches for a couple of years.
 

dinakt

Well-Known Member
Messages
6,751
(Don't think I'm crazy, but can anyone else tell if the bun in Ashley's hair might have protected her when she fell?)
That definitely crossed my mind- that the hair bun might have mitigated the impact somewhat... though I did not feel up to re-watching the video to make sure.
 

aftershocks

Banned Member
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17,335
Thanks for sharing the Julianne Seguin essay @Zazy. Wow! In any case, I'm going to take further conversation and speculation about Seguin's essay to Canadian pairs thread.
 
Z

ZilphaK

Guest
Are figure skating competitions at any level required to have medical personnel on hand? There was just a study done by Seattle Children's Research Institute where they put an athletic trainer who was trained in recognizing and diagnosing concussions and at every single practice and game for the Northwest Junior Football League. Turns out 5 out of every 100 kids experienced a concussion during the playing season; previous studies which relied on incomplete data underestimated the incidence by 4%.

Now, football is NOT figure skating (duh), but I'd imagine similar increases in incidence would be not unexpected if there were someone at every practice and competition, looking at head hits. Right now, it's coaches (trained to recognize concussions?) or parents making the call whether or not to put kids back on the ice; adults and teens who skate on their own making their own calls.

Again, just reiterating what we all seem to be saying, but overall, there needs to be far more education, and with minors, someone taking charge of not letting kids back on the ice and protecting them from "overzealous" coaches and parents.

I think I've mentioned this elsewhere, but research shows that one concussion predisposes you to additional concussions. One concussion increases the risk of suicide twofold -- within 10 years for a child, within 5-7 years for an adult. A head hit is nothing to "guess" about -- any incidental contact with the ice, another skater, the boards and skaters should be brainwashed (so to speak) to take themselves off the ice for 48 hours for a "wait and see."

And I absolutely do not blame Tim or Ashley for this...although ref? WTH? USFSA is not banging this drum. However, they had better start now, and loudly.
 

Debbie S

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Messages
12,562
Qualifying comps are required to have a medical person on site. However, that person doesn't have to be a physician, they could be a PT (they are cheaper, I remember someone on the organizing committee for Adult Easterns a few years ago told me they were doing that, to hold down the expense). But PTs are trained in concussion protocol like any other medical staff so they would be able to recognize symptoms, etc.

Club comps aren't. I remember at my club's comp about 7-8 years ago, an ice dancer (lower level) fell out of a lift and hit her head. They stopped skating (i wasn't watching so I don't know if it was the skaters or coaches who made that call, I think the skater got up and walked off the ice, prob with partner helping) and an ambulance was called. Luckily, one of the judges is an EMT so he sat with her and her mom until the ambulance arrived. Ultimately, the ER did not recommend a CT scan b/c of the long-term risks and the kid ended up being OK, thank goodness. I remember they competed at Easterns that year.
 

Aceon6

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@Jozet Of the 4 local rinks that I’ve used, only one has an EMT on site at all times. One of the other rinks is literally next door to a fire station, so that probably counts. At the other two, I guess it’s best to skate when there’s high school hockey practice on another sheet so you know there’s someone in the building who knows what they’re doing.
 
Z

ZilphaK

Guest
@Jozet Of the 4 local rinks that I’ve used, only one has an EMT on site at all times. One of the other rinks is literally next door to a fire station, so that probably counts. At the other two, I guess it’s best to skate when there’s high school hockey practice on another sheet so you know there’s someone in the building who knows what they’re doing.

I would hope the hockey folks would know what they are doing, but again, it could be wishful thinking. Unfortunately. The NHL doesn't even recognize any links between concussion and CTE; USA Hockey does not track any injuries, saying bad data is worse than no data.

I think it would be easy enough to require concussion training -- as with Safe Sport training -- for all coaches. I'm not sure how that affects liability, though. Ramps up any injuries and those suffering with post-concussion symdrome to "You were supposed to know better." I think you'd just have to have a flat "You hit your head, it's witnessed by a professional, you have to leave the ice until you come back with medical release to practice." Then, again, lots of freestyle ice is rink managed, not club managed. It gets tricky. Which is why it's just as prudent to make parents and coaches super-duper aware of the potential risks of one head hit.
 

Aceon6

Isolating from mean people
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To clarify, I believe the high school hockey rules in our state require the presence of EMTs, PAs, or MDs at all practices and games. I’ve seen them set up a number of times... backboard, neck brace, air casts, and lots and lots of bandages of all sorts.
 
Z

ZilphaK

Guest
Qualifying comps are required to have a medical person on site. However, that person doesn't have to be a physician, they could be a PT (they are cheaper, I remember someone on the organizing committee for Adult Easterns a few years ago told me they were doing that, to hold down the expense). But PTs are trained in concussion protocol like any other medical staff so they would be able to recognize symptoms, etc.

Club comps aren't. I remember at my club's comp about 7-8 years ago, an ice dancer (lower level) fell out of a lift and hit her head. They stopped skating (i wasn't watching so I don't know if it was the skaters or coaches who made that call, I think the skater got up and walked off the ice, prob with partner helping) and an ambulance was called. Luckily, one of the judges is an EMT so he sat with her and her mom until the ambulance arrived. Ultimately, the ER did not recommend a CT scan b/c of the long-term risks and the kid ended up being OK, thank goodness. I remember they competed at Easterns that year.

I remember Tessa Hong fell and hit her head during 2015 Southwest Pacific Regionals (I believe). The ref stopped the program and she wasn't allowed to continue. Tessa wasn't able to continue on to Sectionals, due to the ref disqualifying her. There was a grievance filed against the referee, which was eventually dismissed. She still wasn't given any kind of bye to Sectionals.

I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, you don't want kids to continue on with the program if they smack their head. On the other hand, you don't want refs to be wishy washy about making those calls because they either don't want to prevent a skater from going on to the next round of competition or they don't want to go through the hassle of a grievance. Maybe there could be a special bye for injuries that happen in the course of competing, meaning a doctor needs to release the skater before further competition. I don't know.
 

Lacey

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I am so happy to hear that other sports have some medical coverage nowadays. I actually hadn't noticed at my grandchildren's games. I think it's also great that in some cases, medical coverage is not just for games and competitions, but also for practices.

The people with me when I had my head injury/blindness let me eat candy. I think now to eat after a head injury is considered wrong. One other thing I have heard about head injuries is that concussed persons are not supposed to sleep, but I am not sure about either.

About skating injuries, I have no idea what the training is for kids and coaches. And I definitely feel that Ashley and Tim did nothing wrong or would not blame them. But if neither should have moved or been moved, then the USFS has an obligation to make sure athletes and coaches know this. USFS has training camps every summer for the elite athletes where they could inform them. Also, lower level skaters and their parents should know protocol too. I would make it something for which they have to sign.

The most bizarre part of the whole thing for Cain/LeDuc is that Ashley's parents are their coaches. Parents are not supposed to interfere, but are coaches supposed to--yet how can they? Are they supposed to get on the ice? Maybe all knew and just let it play itself out. But the ref did nothing, nada, zilch, and that is inexcusable.

Sure, an interruption in a program, perhaps having to go to the sidelines to speak with the Ref, is intrusive to a competition. Most skaters can bounce right back up from most falls. In fact, Ashley had had a weird fall on the jump right before going down from the lift where she had actually truly landed more weirdly than in the one from the lift--she was squiggly after. If there is such a strange landing or an injury where the athlete seems affected, like going unconscious even for a few seconds or sustaining an ankle or leg injury that produces a limp, then the ref needs to step up. When Tim touched her out of concern, they seemed to be in shock. I am sure their first instinct was to try finish. But the ref did nothing, the ref did nothing, the ref did nothing. INEXCUSABLE! THE BOTTOM LINE IS THE REFEREE NEEDS TO STOP ANY PROGRAM IF THERE IS EVEN THE SLIGHTEST CONCERN about a fall gone bad.

And yes, the injury bye as mentioned just above my post is a great idea.
 

madm

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Could the referee stop the program if a serious accident occurs, and give the skaters a couple of minutes to resume skating from the point where the program stopped? Skaters are allowed 3 minutes when an equipment malfunction occurs. Remember when Mark Ladwig was competing at Four Continents in 2011 in Asia and his boot broke, and Canadian pair skater Rudi Swiegers loaned him his skates to finish the program? A break of a couple of minutes could give the referee or coach time to do a quick mental test (a few questions) to see if the skater has a concussion, before disqualifying the skater. I believe they are doing concussion protocols in football now where players have to sit out at least one play after a head hit to be evaluated and, if cleared, allowed to return to play.

If you are unfamiliar with the Ladwig story, it is a great example of sportsmanship. (From Wordpress) "Rudi won the “fan-favorite” award, however, when he rescued American Mark Ladwig after the heel of his boot ripped free of his skate on the landing of a jump in the short program. Ladwig and partner Amanda Evora stopped, and were given three minutes to fix the problem and retake the ice."

As I recall, Swiegers and Ladwig were friends and had trained together in Florida a bit, so they knew they wore the same size skates. When Mark's boot malfunction occurred, Swiegers saw the close-up of the broken boot on the jumbotron, and since he'd competed in the same event prior to Mark, he had his skate bag and rushed downstairs to hand Mark his boots within the 3 minute time limit. It is amazing that Mark and Amanda were able to complete their program, thanks to Rudi.
 

Willin

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2,184
@madm While this could be done for some minor injuries (cuts, muscle cramps, etc.) it cannot be done for most injuries. Possible bone/tendon/joint/back injuries need imaging to be cleared. While some arenas have that available (those used for the NBA/NHL usually have an x-ray machine), it may not be the right kind of imaging and would still take some time to clear the skater. Not only that but the x-ray machines may be team property and not available for use by events renting the arena out. Skaters needing clearance would therefore need to go to an outside facility and likely have to wait there to be seen, sSo it would be hard to get a medical clearance for those injuries in enough time for the skater to return to competition.

Concussions can take 24-48 hours to manifest, so there would be no clearing someone after a few minutes or even a day. While some concussions can be as simple as a short test immediately after the fact to can tell the individual is out of it, this is not always the case. USFSA's guideline is any possibly concussed skater needs to be immediately removed from and kept off the ice the day of the possible concussion and is not allowed to return to competition until medical clearance is given. While the parent information sheet and webpage do not provide the "day of" guideline, only the written medical eval before return requirement, the Learn to Skate instructor manual and PSA CERs say the athlete should be kept off the ice "day of" any potential concussion because symptoms may not be immediately apparent.
 

BittyBug

The missing ingredient
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23,038
... you don't want refs to be wishy washy about making those calls because they either don't want to prevent a skater from going on to the next round of competition or they don't want to go through the hassle of a grievance. Maybe there could be a special bye for injuries that happen in the course of competing, meaning a doctor needs to release the skater before further competition.
Won't this be moot with the new qualifying structure because skaters will have more than one opportunity to qualify for the next level event?
 

aftershocks

Banned Member
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Well, I'm praying that Ashley is healing physically, mentally, emotionally, and Timothy too! :saint: They need to learn from this experience and then put it behind them. I'm going to post in U.S pairs thread my further thoughts about Ash & Tim overcoming this setback.
 

essence_of_soy

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5,782
You're not crazy, I had the same thought about Ashley's bun. (Unless we're both crazy!) But I don't think she hit that part of her head.

I'm reminded of the time Naomi Nari Nam fell on her triple flip in the short program at the 1999 U.S. National Championships. It looked like she hit her head, but I think her hair bun may have cushioned the fall.

https://youtu.be/pjMOG9KrxgI?t=109
 

AxelAnnie

Like a small boat on the ocean...
Messages
12,722
Are figure skating competitions at any level required to have medical personnel on hand? There was just a study done by Seattle Children's Research Institute where they put an athletic trainer who was trained in recognizing and diagnosing concussions and at every single practice and game for the Northwest Junior Football League. Turns out 5 out of every 100 kids experienced a concussion during the playing season; previous studies which relied on incomplete data underestimated the incidence by 4%.

Now, football is NOT figure skating (duh), but I'd imagine similar increases in incidence would be not unexpected if there were someone at every practice and competition, looking at head hits. Right now, it's coaches (trained to recognize concussions?) or parents making the call whether or not to put kids back on the ice; adults and teens who skate on their own making their own calls.

Again, just reiterating what we all seem to be saying, but overall, there needs to be far more education, and with minors, someone taking charge of not letting kids back on the ice and protecting them from "overzealous" coaches and parents.

I think I've mentioned this elsewhere, but research shows that one concussion predisposes you to additional concussions. One concussion increases the risk of suicide twofold -- within 10 years for a child, within 5-7 years for an adult. A head hit is nothing to "guess" about -- any incidental contact with the ice, another skater, the boards and skaters should be brainwashed (so to speak) to take themselves off the ice for 48 hours for a "wait and see."

And I absolutely do not blame Tim or Ashley for this...although ref? WTH? USFSA is not banging this drum. However, they had better start now, and loudly.
Horse shows have to have medical personnel and a vet.

Funny but true. The vet for the Olympics has been our vet....for big things. One year our trainer was on the phone with the Vet who was stuck in traffic on his way to the venue. Trainer said...Jack you are going to be late. Aren't you worried? Vet...No...they can't start until I get there.!😎
 

Japanfan

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24,154
I can understand he was probably scared seeing her out like that and, maybe for his own reasons, wanted to make sure that she wasn't seriously injured...which is why he picked her up after about a nanosecond rather than allowing her to get up on her own...or even open her eyes for that matter. It was almost like he was assuring himself that she was okay without taking and time to actually see if she was okay.

Probably just acting on instinct, in the absence of having any training in how to best deal with the situation.

It should be a rule after a fall like that the partner is not allowed to pick the skater up unless the skater is clearly awake and attempting to stand on their own.

For there to be a rule, there would have to be some training. Which would be a good thing.
 
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purple skates

Shadow Dancing
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My club’s annual competitions (one synchro, one general, and one basic skills) always have volunteer medical staff on site.

There aren’t any for practices, though, unless they happen to be there skating.
 

Aussie Willy

Hates both vegemite and peanut butter
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With competitions here, regardless of level, there is usually a volunteer first aider on hand. And for Nationals the OC will employ paid first aiders. And rinks at a minimum should have trained first aiders as part of working at a rink to deal with the day to day injuries.
 

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