A concussed Lindsey Vonn admitted to feeling like she was "skiing in a fog" at the world championships in Germany. (Clive Mason/Getty Images)
At what point do we say enough is enough?
I understand that the culture of sport is to tough it out, and nowhere is this more the case than in alpine skiing, where minor surgeries are barely a by-line on injury lists.
But the brain is different. This is where I draw the line as an athlete, and as someone who plans to use my brain long after my knees, shoulders and back have given out. I know I'll survive long beyond my sporting career (bum knee and all) because I have a head on my shoulders. Sport isn't worth putting that at danger.
This is why I'm a bit angry right now.
Lindsey Vonn, the most famous women's alpine skier, admitted to experiencing concussion symptoms
in an interview with EuroSport on Tuesday, an hour before hurtling herself down the super-G course in the world championships in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany. After the race, Vonn admitted she felt like she was "skiing in a fog
And for what? A chance at a world title? Who are your handlers? If these symptoms you mentioned are true, who in their right mind would clear you to race? (Plus, there's no such thing as "concussion-like symptoms". If you have symptoms, you have a concussion!)
This makes me question whether the symptoms mentioned are real. However, I expect that her symptoms are very real and that worries me. I worry not only for the athletes' well being (it's their choice to take such risks) but the culture it continues to feed; a culture where concussions are overlooked and athletes feel unwilling to admit and properly deal with brain injuries.Changes slow to come
Maybe it seem unfair to point the finger at any single athlete, and for that I apologize, but change must come. This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable. Even if an athlete is willing to risk another concussion (as most athletes are in their drive to impress and maintain tough appearances), support staff should never allow it.
Concussions are a huge topic as sports like hockey
and alpine try to shift their cultures and perceptions so that players, coaches, and doctors alike feel safe in properly assessing concussion and addressing them. Let's be honest - enough information has been available about concussions and their possible long-term effects to have caused fundamental shift in sport over a decade ago. However, the debate rages on and changes are slow to come.
I'm happy to say that Alpine Canada has been at the forefront of properly handling concussions throughout my 11 years with the team. I'm glad to know that I can trust my organization to protect my noggin, but it seems like other athletes aren't so lucky.
Although I know I'd be a better ski racer if I stopped using my brain so much, I'd still like to have it available for later use.
We need changes in alpine skiing to better address the health and safety of the athletes across the board. Concussions are just one part, but they're a key part and a good place to start.
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