Should helmets be mandatory in pairs skating? | Golden Skate

Should helmets be mandatory in pairs skating?

Skating91

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Sep 16, 2023


This was quite difficult to watch.

Given everything we know about concussion and CTE, does more need to be done to protect -- especially -- the partner being lifted and thrown?

An ultra lightweight helmet would be better than nothing. A speed skating helmet is about 300 grams. Even something thinner and more lightweight would be better than a bare skull slamming into the ice right?

And does the sport need some kind of injury time out system so that skaters can be saved from themselves?

It would be harsh, but a one fall and you're out system would work. Not too many skaters win major tournaments with a fall in their program, so it's unlikely a fall would decide a major event, plus the skaters would take less risks knowing what jeopardy a single fall brings. Probably brings added excitement to the sport.
 

Weathergal

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May 25, 2014
Besides, I hate to say it, but lately it seems there are just as many concussions, if not more, from dance rather than pairs (not suggesting helmets for dance...just mentioning).
 

el henry

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I remember when hockey players played without helmets, and the hue and cry when they were introduced: restricting side vision, making some plays more difficult, false sense of security.

Personally, I was sad because seeing Bobby Clarke's blond curls as he sped down the ice was so cool. But now I don't even see a dispute about that (although I have not seriously watched hockey in 40 years).

I don't need to watch a video of bad falls in skating, there are plenty of them. If a helmet would help prevent injuries, in any discipline, skaters would adapt, and I would be all for it. I don't know if they would.

I believe an independent referee should absolutely have the authority, power and duty to stop a program when any blow to the head occurs.
 

Diana Delafield

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I remember when hockey players played without helmets, and the hue and cry when they were introduced: restricting side vision, making some plays more difficult, false sense of security.

Personally, I was said because seeing Bobby Clarke's blond curls as he sped down the ice was so cool. But now I don't even see a dispute about that (although I have not seriously watched hockey in 40 years).

I don't need to watch a video of bad falls in skating, there are plenty of them. If a helmet would help prevent injuries, in any discipline, skaters would adapt, and I would be all for it. I don't know if they would.

I believe an independent referee should absolutely have the authority, power and duty to stop a program when any blow to the head occurs.
I had to put a Think emoji there because I've been a pair skater for a long time now, and as I recall mentioning in a similar thread here previously, I once took part in a trial years ago of several possible helmets for pairs girls. They were experimental models, and my own verdict was that they had all the drawbacks mentioned, chiefly that they obstructed peripheral vision to a dangerous degree, plus the fact that the ones with the best head coverage were heavy enough that they upset the balance of almost all lifts. The one sample helmet that was light and less obtrusive wouldn't have protected my skull any better than a little costume hat. (Another older pairs skater from BC told me that the only time she fell from a lift and hit her head, during a competition practice session, what saved her from injury was the head full of mesh rollers she'd left on her hair to ensure her bouffant 1960s hairstyle in the competition later.)

I'm not at all opposed to the use of helmets if safe ones can be made. If someone can invent a helmet that is strong enough to prevent injury, light enough to not affect balance, and not so bulky it obstructs vision, I'll be the first to endorse it, but that hasn't happened yet that I know of. It would also be useful in death spirals, incidentally. Canadian pairs girls for long were noted for the depth of their spirals, but I've seen a few concussions happen when that move goes wrong and her head smacks the ice, even just a glancing blow. And incidentally, when small groups of pairs girls get together and start the standard the-only-time-I-hit-my-head comparison, the majority (and I'm one of them) say it was during a dance lesson, getting tripped by a partner. So I would not restrict the helmet rule to pairs. Given the lifts dancers now include, helmets would be mandatory there too, using the same reasoning.
 

Anna K.

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If someone can invent a helmet that is strong enough to prevent injury, light enough to not affect balance, and not so bulky it obstructs vision, I'll be the first to endorse it, but that hasn't happened yet.
It is also an interesting question how should the form of a figure skating helmet be considering the aerodynamic specifics of the sport.

A lot of research needed in this field indeed.
So, my answer would be: to investments into research and safety equipment development - a big YES; to forcing every available helmet on a skater's head - a big NO.
 

NaVi

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Oct 30, 2014
No.

But incidents like this scare people from taking up pairs skating... IMO, there's room for another skating discipline that sits between singles and pairs skaters that doesn't the lifts that many find scary.

This wouldn't make a huge difference, but I question having 3 overhead lifts be required in the FS. This seems to have been instituted after the 1998 Olympics(or at least the 1998 quad didn't require 3 overhead lifts).
 
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JeanA

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Jan 13, 2024
I don't think making it a requirement is necessary. There are very few falls like that in competition. However, I would (just my opinion) practice all the time with one on. Even the men probably should (remember Paul Binnebose, the American junior skater who became disabled after a bad fall on a lift?). Also there was a Canadian skater in the 80s who injured his head and even wore a helmet at the start of their programs and threw it off into the audience after the split twist (Doug Ladret maybe?).

What I'm disgusted about is that the male partner didn't rush right over to her after they finished the program. He skated off in the opposite direction afterwards! What a jerk. Hope he's not another Shliakhov.
 

Skating91

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This is a 200 gram helmet. Could save someone's life or from a permanent disability, not to mention lessen the effects of concussion which we know leads to disease like CTE.

I don't see how an extra 200 grams could interfere with the performance.

I find this attitude towards safety very strange.
 

Skating91

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Absolutely not. I understand the risks. However, I have worn them for baseball. They restrict your vision, and even the slightest bit of extra weight can throw your center of gravity completely off

A simple helmet as I have linked above would not restrict vision and is only 200 grams. If 200 grams is going to throw someone's centre of gravity completely off then no wonder eating disorders are an issue. It must mean if a skater gains 200 grams overnight then it is too dangerous for them to skate the next day.

There are many acrobatic type of sports at the summer and winter Olympics and helmets don't interfere with the jumps. Not to mention if an extra 200 grams did affect elements, then the skaters would make adjustment and attempt less complex elements to compensate.

People's attitudes towards brain injuries is disturbing me a little. Their heads are hitting what is effectively concrete.
 

CaroLiza_fan

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In a word - yes.

And not just Pairs skating either. All skating.

Yes, it will ruin the whole aesthetics of figure skating. But, so what? The safety of the skaters is the most important thing.

Plus, including safety gear might actually make people start thinking of figure skating as a serious sport as opposed to just a hobby or leisure activity. (That was the British government's attitude when not allowing ice rinks to be open for anybody, not even competitive skaters who needed to train, until long after other parts of society had re-opened after the lockdowns).

https://lazersport.us/products/g1mips

This is a 200 gram helmet. Could save someone's life or from a permanent disability, not to mention lessen the effects of concussion which we know leads to disease like CTE.

I don't see how an extra 200 grams could interfere with the performance.

A simple helmet as I have linked above would not restrict vision and is only 200 grams. If 200 grams is going to throw someone's centre of gravity completely off then no wonder eating disorders are an issue. It must mean if a skater gains 200 grams overnight then it is too dangerous for them to skate the next day.

There are many acrobatic type of sports at the summer and winter Olympics and helmets don't interfere with the jumps. Not to mention if an extra 200 grams did affect elements, then the skaters would make adjustment and attempt less complex elements to compensate.

Maybe the people talking about restricted vision and the extra weight were doing like me and thinking of something along the lines of a ski helmet, rather than doing like you and thinking of something along the lines of a bicycle helmet.

Personally, I would still prefer to have a helmet that covered as much of the head as possible, as that would provide the most protection. But I'm not a skater.

Maybe a good compromise would be one of those "in-between" helmets where the hard part covers the whole of the back of the head, but at the side goes around the back of ear rather than covering the ear and cheek.

I find this attitude towards safety very strange.

People's attitudes towards brain injuries is disturbing me a little. Their heads are hitting what is effectively concrete.

I feel the same as you.

CaroLiza_fan
 

Diana Delafield

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Maybe the people talking about restricted vision and the extra weight were doing like me and thinking of something along the lines of a ski helmet, rather than doing like you and thinking of something along the lines of a bicycle helmet
In my reply, I was describing the hockey-style helmets we were given to test, I think in the early 1990s, in Canada. Big, bulky things that covered even the sides of the face. We all agreed to try them because we did think the idea of helmets was good, but the ones they supplied didn't provide what was needed. I have wide peripheral vision. We tried a one-handed lift with a flipout exit. You want to reach out with your free hand and grasp the hand he's holding up for you. Without turning my head, I cut my eyes to the side and found myself looking at the inside of the helmet. Had to flail around trying to find his hand. Unfortunately, I was already into the drop because it all happens in a second. Fortunately, we were testing these for lifts off the ice on gymnastics mats. The men also were wearing hockey-style helmets. On the ice there were quite a few collisions between partners doing footwork or coming together for spins. Hockey players collide at high speeds, but they're wearing protective gear all over. I suppose you could have skaters wear outfits like freestyle skiers and snowboarders, who manage acrobatic feats while wearing bulky ski-suits and helmets, but I suspect the sport of figure skating as a combination of athleticism and artistry would dwindle away and vanish then. If anyone can think of a compromise, please do!
 

ladyjane

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I wear a cap with so-called protectors in during training. Ever since having been shocked when one of my fellow skaters fell with her head on the ice and indeed suffered a concussion and had to stay off the ice for months. But I am not getting lifted, nor do I do more difficult jumps than single ones, so perhaps it is easy for me to say. I do spins, twizzles, 3-turns, etc. (though no difficult ones). The cap is held fast under my chin and stays in place. It doesn't weigh much. Hockey style helmets would, just as @Diana Delafield stated, not be my thing either even at a much lower level of skating and no lifts! But collisions during training can and do easily happen with all these skaters on the ice!

To be honest, I don't wear the cap when doing our yearly show at the end of the season. Collisions are less probable and, of couse, it would take away the aesthetics totally and distract from the costumes!
 

Anna K.

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It must mean if a skater gains 200 grams overnight then it is too dangerous for them to skate the next day.
You are correct.
For a tiny skater, extra 200 grams would ruin the entire program. Gravity is ruthless.
It's not that dramatic for bigger skaters though, from what I have heard.


This is a 200 gram helmet. Could save someone's life or from a permanent disability, not to mention lessen the effects of concussion which we know leads to disease like CTE.

I don't see how an extra 200 grams could interfere with the performance.

I find this attitude towards safety very strange.
Long story short, we need trials. We don't want the safety equipment that may cause even more injuries when applied, right?

It might be a decent choice for basic skating practices though.
Also, let's not forget about elbow guards and knee guards.

However, I'd still suggest developing a specific helmet for elite figure skating. I can tell from its shape that the helmet above is developed for different type of aerodynamic loads than those we have in figure skating. So it's not the best possible option anyway. In fact, it should be tested to make sure that it doesn't have an adverse effect.
 

CaroLiza_fan

EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA
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In my reply, I was describing the hockey-style helmets we were given to test, I think in the early 1990s, in Canada. Big, bulky things that covered even the sides of the face. We all agreed to try them because we did think the idea of helmets was good, but the ones they supplied didn't provide what was needed. I have wide peripheral vision. We tried a one-handed lift with a flipout exit. You want to reach out with your free hand and grasp the hand he's holding up for you. Without turning my head, I cut my eyes to the side and found myself looking at the inside of the helmet. Had to flail around trying to find his hand. Unfortunately, I was already into the drop because it all happens in a second. Fortunately, we were testing these for lifts off the ice on gymnastics mats. The men also were wearing hockey-style helmets. On the ice there were quite a few collisions between partners doing footwork or coming together for spins. Hockey players collide at high speeds, but they're wearing protective gear all over. I suppose you could have skaters wear outfits like freestyle skiers and snowboarders, who manage acrobatic feats while wearing bulky ski-suits and helmets, but I suspect the sport of figure skating as a combination of athleticism and artistry would dwindle away and vanish then. If anyone can think of a compromise, please do!

What?! It was Ice Hockey helmets that they gave you to try. My goodness! Even I know big clunky things like that would be no use at all for figure skating. No wonder you were complaining about the weight and lack of vision. :drama:

Did the people getting you to test them actually know anything about figure skating, and the desire to keep the centre of gravity low so that you do not topple over when doing elements?!

No, I was envisaging you testing something more slimline, such as American Football helmets with the front cage removed. Although they seem to be of a similar thickness to ski helmets, American Football helmets cover much more of the face. Which to me seemed to tie in with your complaints about the much reduced peripheral vision. But, what you were actually describing would have been much worse than what I thought you were describing.

Maybe it would be worth somebody running a test with ski helmets, or those "in-between" helmets that I was describing (I don't know what they are called). Because I am sure either would be much better to work with than ice hockey helmets.

I wear a cap with so-called protectors in during training. Ever since having been shocked when one of my fellow skaters fell with her head on the ice and indeed suffered a concussion and had to stay off the ice for months. But I am not getting lifted, nor do I do more difficult jumps than single ones, so perhaps it is easy for me to say. I do spins, twizzles, 3-turns, etc. (though no difficult ones). The cap is held fast under my chin and stays in place. It doesn't weigh much. Hockey style helmets would, just as @Diana Delafield stated, not be my thing either even at a much lower level of skating and no lifts! But collisions during training can and do easily happen with all these skaters on the ice!

To be honest, I don't wear the cap when doing our yearly show at the end of the season. Collisions are less probable and, of couse, it would take away the aesthetics totally and distract from the costumes!

My goodness! I don't blame you one bit for taking precautions after seeing what happened the skater at your rink. I would probably have reacted the same way, or gone further and actually stopped skating.

You talking about a cap with protectors just put another suggestion into my head. Although I'm not at all convinced that they provide any protection when banging your head on grass never mind ice, what about the scrum caps used in rugby?

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/71r9+RMSF1L.jpg

Personally, I would feel more protected wearing a hard helmet.

But, maybe I'm just over-cautious.

CaroLiza_fan
 

ladyjane

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My cap looks like an ordinary winter hat (the Dutch word 'muts' translates both into cap and hat), with the difference you can fix it under your chin and, of course, the protectors. The scrum cap would give me too little view, as expecially with spins, twizzles and even small jumps your sight will be impaired substantially.
 

Skating91

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Joined
Sep 16, 2023
You are correct.
For a tiny skater, extra 200 grams would ruin the entire program. Gravity is ruthless.
It's not that dramatic for bigger skaters though, from what I have heard.
200 grams would not ruin a program. Don't forget, if this is instituted tomorrow then every skater will have to skate with an extra 200 grams for the rest of their lives. If they hit the ice at 8am the day after the new rule is put in place, the skaters will have adjusted to the new weight by 8:20am. Maybe 8:30am if slow to adjust.
Long story short, we need trials. We don't want the safety equipment that may cause even more injuries when applied, right?

It's going to be a 200 gram helmet as a very rigid strap allowing no movement of the helmet.
It might be a decent choice for basic skating practices though.
Also, let's not forget about elbow guards and knee guards.

However, I'd still suggest developing a specific helmet for elite figure skating. I can tell from its shape that the helmet above is developed for different type of aerodynamic loads than those we have in figure skating. So it's not the best possible option anyway. In fact, it should be tested to make sure that it doesn't have an adverse effect.
It wouldn't take much to add some aerodynamic improvements but I think you're overestimating the aerodynamics involved in jumping a triple salchow. Someone with their hair in a ponytail is probably at more of an disadvantage compared to someone in a slimline helmet than someone with their hair in a bun. The difference between a great jump and poor jump is not aerodynamic efficiency of the body but technique all else being equal.
 

Skating91

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Sep 16, 2023
In a word - yes.

And not just Pairs skating either. All skating.

Yes, it will ruin the whole aesthetics of figure skating. But, so what? The safety of the skaters is the most important thing.
Disturbingly, after reading many comments, I think most people would rather sacrifice health and lives for aesthetics. There is nothing more important than the safety of the skaters. Especially junior skaters. There should be zero compromise in protecting children. In what other sport would lifting a person into the air 2-2.5m in the air and allowing their heads to be dropped onto a surface as hard as concrete without any protection be acceptable? No sport in the world would allow this risk.
 
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