Figure skating injuries high price to pay
Injuries not uncommon for skaters competing at the highest levels
Injuries can happen anywhere.
For skaters competing at the highest level, the physical consequences of injuries are a given and the upshot is often missed competitive opportunities. In this weekend's NHK Grand Prix, OIympic champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, American Jason Brown, and Canadian ice dancers Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam will all be sitting out to recover.
It's a high price to pay.
We all believe, at least in theory, that figure skating is a non-contact sport. In practice, blades and ice together can make the contact unavoidable.
With intricate footwork and fast rotational lifts, ice dancers are at risk for accidents from tangled feet or slipped grip.
Perhaps the most dramatic on-ice incidents take place during the pair events. The elements are high-risk and high-speed, and a skater's life can change forever in a split second.
Hairline fracture, internal hemorrhaging
Debbi Wilkes was one half of the Canadian pair that won silver at the 1964 Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. A year earlier, at the world championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, Wilkes and partner Guy Revell were doing a lift during a pre-event photo shoot on a small piece of natural outdoor ice.
"He fell backwards during our lift and I was draped over his hand fully extended and above his head," Wilkes said.
"There was nothing I could do to save myself and I landed on my head. I remember waking up briefly in a heap on the ice and people were crowded around me. I was taken to the little local hospital that was used to dealing with skiers' broken legs but nothing really like this. They thought I was just concussed, but then, overnight, I hemorrhaged internally in the hospital and the next day half of my face was paralyzed.
"At that point, the Canadian team sent me home where it was discovered I had suffered a hairline fracture that went down the left side of my head and over my ear."