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Should a Coach Force a Figure Skater to Compete After Being Injured?


Should a Coach Force a Figure Skater to Compete After Being Injured In a Competition Warm-Up?

Should a Coach Force a Figure Skater to Compete After Being Injured In a Competition Warm-Up?

Photo by Takeshi Honda - Getty Images

The following question came to About.com Figure Skating:

Dear JO ANN:

During a recent sectional figure skating competition, a skater bumped into another skater during the six minute warm-up that took place just before the skaters were scheduled to compete.

The skater who was hit fell flat on her stomach and on her face. She was scheduled to be the second to last to compete in her warm-up group. After the fall, she stood up quickly and consulted her coach.

Her coach saw what had happened, but decided that the collision was not a problem. He told her to continue to warm-up and had her complete all six minutes of her warm-up. He also told the skater that after the warm-up, that she would get time to rest and regroup since she was the scheduled to compete near the end of the group.

Things went downhill from there. She told her coach that she felt dizzy and nauseous. The coach did not listen to the skater's complaints and did nothing. He forced the skater to continue to skate and complete the six minute warm-up.

After the skater competed, the coach advised the skater to see the on-site medical team. The medical team confirmed that the skater had indeed been injured. The medical team also made it clear that the coach's decision had been a bad one. They explained that they would have not allowed the skater to compete since her injuries were serious.

The skater in question had to stay at the competition city an extra day before the medical team gave her the okay to fly home.

The skater who was injured is only sixteen years old and a very hard worker.

I do not want to judge this situation, but I would like to know what other figure skaters and coaches have done in similar situations. What have other figure skating coaches done when there is a collision during a competition warm-up? What should have been done by the coach, parents, competition officials, or skater during this unfortunate situation?

Concerned Skating Parent

Here Is About.com Figure Skating's Response:

Dear Concerned Skating Parent:

It is too late to change what has already happened, but here are my thoughts:

The coach in question may have considered asking the competition referee if the skater could be seen by the medical team before she competed. He may have also considered asking the referee if the skater could warm up at the end of the event with the last group if the medical team had given her the go-ahead to compete.

I don't know if the coach's requests would have been granted. The skater and coach may have been told if the skater missed her assigned warm-up, that she may have had to compete or been forced to withdraw from the event.

It sounds like the warm-up did not go well, but you don't describe how the skater performed during the competition. Did she land anything? Was it a very poor performance? Was she able to spin and jump at all? Did she single all her double (and/or triple) jumps? Was she able to spin? How did she place?

Did the coach explain his reasons for forcing the skater to compete? If she had skated her best, was she good enough to place or medal in the event? Did the coach not take the skater's complaints of dizziness and nausea seriously?

Yes, this is a difficult situation. I do hope the skater, coach, and parents, and competition officials have learned from this and will know how to handle instances like this at future competitive figure skating events.

Happy Skating!

JO ANN Schneider Farris
Guide to Figure Skating
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