Saturday, February 15, 2014

Jeremy Abbott's Fall: Some Comments

Recently one of my posts (Why there's no ASTM Approved Helmets for Figure Skating) has been getting a lot of page views. I want to use some still shots of Jeremy Abbott's fall to show how an accomplished skater preserves himself from injury even in a high speed high rotation fall. I'm not going to discuss anything that happens before the fall, just the part where he hits the ice. (All photos property of the AP and NBC).

The fall begins. He is rotating clockwise.

He reflexively reaches to the ice even as his body continues to rotate.
In a less experienced skater, this could result in a broken wrist.

Years of training take over. He doesn't put his palm on the ice in the fall.
Instead, he keeps his wrist off the ice,and uses the lower part of his arm
above the wrist for bracing.

He hits the ice hard. But look, his head and upper shoulders
are well off the ice. As hard as he hit, that takes a lot of strength,
experience and quick reflexes.
Sadly here, it looks like he hit his kidney.  This was no ordinary fall.

Good reflexes in keeping his head from hitting the boards.
 I've read that to get a triple axel takes thousands of falls. It must take more to get the quad.  Figure skaters are experienced fallers. Here Jeremy exhibits all the skills that figure skaters learn to do in falls: head off the ice, don't jam the wrist,  He was just unlucky enough here to hit at such an angle that his body was stunned.

Props to him for finishing his program.

Unlike Johnny Weir at 2003 Nationals who seemed to lose the will to skate after a fall, then fell again.


  1. Yep. Serious skaters practice falling by default just by practicing. If you're not falling, you're not working hard enough (or so my coach would say). Years of jumping in high school, when I fall, I can usually tell in a split second where I am, and I rotate in air to make sure I land on the side of my hip/bum cheek. And it does require some core strength to keep your upper body tucked.

    1. Getting up from that fall and finishing his program is proof that figure skating's not for sissies.

  2. I remember the Johnny Weir fall, agreeing with Dick Button for probably the first time in my life. You're right, he just lost the will to skate there. So glad Jeremy Abbott got up and kept going. It shows guts!

  3. In an interview Jeremy said he got up intending to go to the ref to ask for the injury timeout (which costs 3 points). He said the applause of the crowd told him he had to keep going.

    It was a really remarkable recovery.

    One difference between his fall and Johnny's though is that Jeremy slammed into speed-skating boards: padded for high speed falls. Johnny fell into standard hockey boards: MUCH harder.

    1. Johnny did not slam into the boards as Jeremy Abbott did (see the replay). His blade simply got too close too the board and he fell on the ice. *Very* different fall from Jeremy.