• Coach Sooty


It’s inevitable that sometimes we crash in our sport. Sometimes. But how often is ‘acceptable’, and how often is too often? Well, this question is impossible to answer, but some considerations can be made. Recently Sk8skool received a very good question from a concerned father. I hope the question and my answer can help you understand the issue of crashing, and the importance of agility, skate skills and race experience.

Hello Sutton, My 14-year old son fell during the EC inline cup in Gross Gerau over a boy in front of him. The wound on his knee was enormous (somehow the impact created a very large open wound as if it was cut by a knife!). After surgery and a night in the hospital he’s now home and recovering. This was the second time in 6 months he was in a severe skate accident (last year in Zandvoorde he fell also over a guy in front of him and got knocked unconscious, for 5 min.) My question: Is it bad luck or are there ways to be more prepared for this kind of ‘peloton’ accidents? I hope to hear from you. Greetings, a Sk8 fan.”

And here was my response to his question:

Hi Sk8 Fan,

Thanks for your email, it’s a good question.

I have to be honest, I sounds like it’s just bad luck this time. Twice times in 6 months is not normal, but it’s is also not the most crashes I’ve heard of in 6 months. Some people crash 4, 5 or 6 times in a season.

However, this is also kinda common in such races like the EIC track races (GG, Zandvoorde, 3 tracks) and Berlin marathon etc. Anywhere there are many skaters, and it is fast and competitive, with limited space. (The same kind of thing happens in cycling sport, as I am sure you know). The top skaters use the same strategy as top cyclists; they steer clear of these kind of accidents (not always) by trying to skate on the front, or close to the front of the pack (in the first 3 or 4 places). This way the chance of a “bunch crash” affecting you is reduced (but not eliminated). But of course everyone is trying to do this, so it costs energy to stay close to the front.

Another factor is experience; with more experience, then the skater learns to read the situations earlier (and look further ahead in the pack, not just look at the guy in front of them), and has a chance to see the danger maybe 1 or 2 seconds before the fall happens. Just ONE second may be enough to avoid the crash.

The last factor that I can think of is agility (the ability to change direction fast, jump, turn, twist and balance on one leg), many skaters train to go fast in training, and they get faster and faster, but many do not train to jump, turn, twist and skate backwards. (like a roller hockey player). This agility skill is essential in avoiding crashes. This is because you only have 1 second to get out the way! ;)

If your son is agile on skates, and experienced, then I’m sorry to say that it’s probably just a combination of bad luck and competitive racing. Unfortunately, this is one of the down-sides of speedskating. Btw, I’ve broken my left wrist 5 times, my right wrist twice, dislocated my shoulder, twisted my back out, and have skin scars all over my knees and hips. It sounds a lot, but spread over 34 years it’s not so often. It’s a hard sport, and if you want to win then you have to go to the edge of your speed limit. Sometimes, unfortunately, this has consequences. It’s just annoying when it’s not your own fault, but the fault of others falling in front of you. But this is just part of the sport I guess.

I hope your son can recover quickly and has trouble free period in the foreseeable future.

Good luck!

Best regards, Coach Sooty

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