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Always Practice Safety

I don't have the 40 years experience like many of you. But I shared this with my former collegiate team and thought it would fit here as well. Long story short, always be ready for the unexpected.

A few nights ago I experienced a jump crash that I hope to never see again. It was a casual open ski night at a local private lake. He was someone I didn't know, but I decided to stick in the boat for a few more skiers after riding for a friend. He was just taking some soft singles... and he looked pretty good. But then he lost his tips. Head to toe, everything hit the water simultaneously. Similar to a big belly flop or barefooting faceplant. It was nasty. He popped up momentarily with his hand in the air but the boat still spun right around to speed back to him. That little hand motion after impact was the only one. He then rolled face down in the water. We pulled up yelling his name to no response. He was knocked unconscious. I jumped to him, lifted his head, and wrapped my arms around his waist. He suddenly sparked back and coughed up lots of water. I slowly brought him to the platform and we let him rest for awhile. He remembered the jump, the impact, but the rest felt like a dream. Clearly sore and was later diagnosed with a concussion.

This wasn't a tournament. There was no safety. I've ridden in the boat for numerous collegiate jumpers and friends. I grew up on the water. I'm sure there's clearly things I could have done better or different. But with a relatively unaware or no passenger at all in the boat who knows what would have happened.

If you have similar experiences, feel free to share. This isn't meant to be a pat on the back, but rather a reminder to practice safety and have proper measures in place. It goes to show that this can happen in any event... at any speed.


  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,823 Mega Baller
    This past weekend, I was the boat judge for an out-the-front single cut jump. Our jumper was a young boy. His crash was more of a "things went everywhere" type. Upon immediate arrival, it was clear he had gotten the wind knocked out if him. I talked him through recovering it: "You're OK. Take small sips of air each second and your breath will come back very quickly. Small sips of air. Good. Keep doing that." My calm, confident voice was key. Many collegiate or younger skiers have not yet had their wind knocked out. They don't know what to do. It is a very scary and easily panic-filled moment. Collegiate skiers and observers should know how to talk someone through it.

    Further, he then complained of lower back and neck pain. I had to stabilize him in the water until the back brace could be positioned and applied. (Moving a spinal-injured person can cause further damage and possibly life-long injury.) I am grateful that I was aware of this. I am not a formally safety-trained person, but this event has given me pause as to whether I am truly qualified to be a boat judge for jump without also having taken formal first response training.

    (FYI - The skier was taken to the ER and cleared of any significant injuries. He is already skiing again.)

    How many collegiate ski team/training sites have a back board available? Is it easily retrieved when an emergency occurs? Could it be in the boat? Do the members know what to do?

    Accidents and injuries just come with sports. It is not a matter of "if" but rather "when" it will happen. Being prepared, equipped, and informed allows for competitors to receive proper first response which improves survival, safety, recovery, and ultimately the ability to return to sport activity.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • z_skierz_skier Posts: 36 Baller
    A similar situation happened during jump practice for our regional championships last year. A good friend of mine, who is a very accomplished jumper, was taking some practice single cuts, as he usually 3/4s and double cuts. He took a nasty OTF crash and was knocked out, luckily there was enough people in the boat to jump in the water and around to get the backboard, and bring him safely to shore. He turned out okay and was skiing again a week or so later.

    This experience gave me a lot of knowledge: To always be prepared, and a better idea of knowing what to do in a situation like this. AND to know that it can happen anytime, in practice, as it did here, or during the tournament. Safety is PRIORITY.
  • KelvinKelvin Posts: 1,196 Mega Baller
    Here's a link to the proper water rescue technique for an unconscious skier with a possible spinal injury. I was on shore for the incident @z_skier described. There were plenty of people around to assist the skier, but none of them had the proper training. This video is the primary subject of all USAWaterski safety clinics.

    EVERYONE that skis should watch this video.

    Kelvin Kelm, Lakes of Katy, Katy Texas
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,339 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @kelvin that is the meaningful part of the safety course to be safety director at a tourney...the rest not so much. Coulda just watched a video, I guess.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
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