Interview: Injury Update from Kate Weatherly

Sep 4, 2019
by Sarah Moore  
Best result yet for Kate Weatherly taking home third.

Kate Weatherly was looking forward to racing her first World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, but a crash during her last practice run sidelined her. We caught up with her today, as she arrived back in New Zealand, to find out more about the crash and what her recovery looks like.

Where on the course did you crash?

I was doing my last practice run before the race and things were going pretty well. I wanted to check a few features going at race speed and so I pedalled more than usual into the skinny concrete drop about halfway through the woods section. As I came in, I oversteered the corner and tried to correct myself but I over-braked and went off the drop with far too little speed and went over the bars directly onto my head on the rock landing.

What were the crash and subsequent evacuation like from your point of view?

Initially, I thought I was okay as pain was fairly low, however when the medics removed my helmet and moved me into an upright position my neck was very sore. They handled the situation well and were able to get me off the hill pretty quickly, I definitely would have liked to have had more information, however, compared to what Brook went through everything went pretty well. My initial thought of spending four and a half hours on the hill were pretty worrying! But I think they handled it well.

We heard that you've since flown home, how was that?

I’ve just arrived back in New Zealand as of 10 minutes ago, the flight to San Francisco with Air Canada was pretty terrible as I had to stay upright almost the whole time, flying back to NZ with Air New Zealand was far better. It’s been quite an ordeal but getting treated at home is just better as I’m closer to friends and family and any follow-up treatment should be easier.

Why did you decide to get surgery in New Zealand instead of Quebec?

I’m not 100% sure if I’ll need surgery yet, because of my type of crash. I’ve essentially split my C1 vertebrae and damaged the cartilage under it. This could heal on its own with stabilisation or may require surgery. It’ll be up to the doctors in New Zealand to decide. However, if it does require surgery, my C1 and C2 vertebrae would likely be fused and this would limit my neck's mobility. This can sometimes be reversed once the bone has healed, but to do this is much better if the surgeon who did this original surgery does the revision. Also if I had the surgery in Quebec I would need to have stayed there for several weeks and in a neck/head brace my bone is stable so I’d rather do the recovery at home that in a foreign country.

What is your long-term outlook like?

I’m unsure what the long-term outlook is, or what recovery time is likely to look like. It’ll depend on if the doctors here want to operate, I hope to be back riding strong for the start of next season but right now my focus is getting back to fitness and being okay. I’ve had no spinal damage which is very lucky considering how severe the fracture is and right now I’m just happy to be able to walk. I really appreciate everyone’s thoughts, it means a lot. Big injuries like this suck but it could happen to anyone. All things going according to plan, you’ll see me in Mont-Sainte-Anne next year!

We wish Kate all the best for a full recovery.

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  • 76 9
 It’s silly that anybody should even have to mitigate the comment section. I guess I’m just surprised that there are so many narrow minded losers out there whose personal lives are so dull and empty that they have to attack others for their life choices (which are frankly none of your business).
  • 11 1
 Well said.
  • 13 1
 I didn't even know or care even less. I wondered why the text box was even there
  • 2 0
 Look, they are all racers that we wish the best for them all. They put on an amazing show for us, push things to the limit in a sport we love, test products to make them better before they become available for us dentists to buy, and show us what can be done on bikes. As another human, it is terrible to see anyone get hurt at all trying to chase down the dream of being a pro rider as the window of time to do so is so short. As I did with Brook M., I hope Kate the best of luck in the recovery and hope that she can be back on the bike again soon. I know how much it sucks to be off the bike in general and/or while healing.
  • 50 1
 Gnarly! Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Kate!!.

Since someone is probably going to ask, I will: What are your thoughts about the Leatt neck brace? Do you find them uncomfortable or maybe feel they won't really help? Is there peer-pressure in the pro ranks NOT to wear one?

  • 8 0
 Yeah really glad she didn't suffer any spinal damage. Just want her to just heal up a full 100% before she starts taking chances again. Beaming in best wishes straight from the other side of the world!

As for the neck brace, wasn't she wearing one then? I haven't watched her ride but in the picture it seems she's wearing a neck brace. Also, in the thumbnail it appears like she's wearing Leatt branded goggles (never realized they make them) so there would be more pressure to wear it than not.
  • 98 3
 Hey @endlessblockades, I used to wear a neck brace but I found it restrictive and I made a decision not to wear one as neck injuries are fairly rare in mountain biking (I know personally many people who’ve broken backs but none who’ve broken a neck), however I guess I proved myself wrong and it does happen, I’ll definitely be wearing one in the feature and hope more people do too, but in the end being in control helps avoid crashes and if a neck brace limits that control maybe it’s not the best option. I currently ride a Leatt full face and it saved my bacon 100% even with the damage to my neck my head was fine and I haven’t had a concussion at all which is super good and lucky.
  • 5 1
 I wear one in mx and desert racing. I had a high speed get off (about 60mph, 20ft in the air to the ground), and I honestly can say it may have saved my neck. Jacked my collar bone/shoulder up and was knocked out but, who knows what could have happened if I wasn’t wearing it.
  • 4 0
 Damn, props to Leatt on their helmet. No concussion after a crash like that is pretty amazing. Best of luck healing up!
  • 9 0
 I just had a huge crash while wearing a neck brace. It was bad enough that I broke by back in three places and the neck brace shattered my collar bone. I also broke the neck brace on impact. It would have been almost certain that I would have broken my neck very badly if I wasn't wearing one. I was surprised at how well it performed actually as my neck wasn't sore at all. Definitely would recommend wearing a neck brace if you are on the fence and I'm very happy that a few friends of mine who race recommended them when I got into biking. 100% would rather have a broken collar bone then neck right now and I'm ordering a new brace for when I can ride again.

PS have no spinal damage from the back fractures and am recovering well.
  • 2 0
 @mechtechmatt: Glad to hear you're doing well. I wear a Leatt brace for racing and I like it. My friend had one on at a race and the Leatt folks in the booth noticed some damage to it and bolted a new half on -on the spot. Great CS.
  • 7 36
flag scott-townes (Sep 4, 2019 at 15:47) (Below Threshold)



Seriously? You want to go there? Ride with what you're comfortable wearing. Its your body, do what you want and stop wasting your time wondering why other people don't wear the same safety gear as yourself. I cannot think of a bigger waste of time than snickering to your buddy going, "pft can you believe it? That dummy isn't even wearing elbow pads, shin pads, spine protection, LEATT brace, ankle braces, padded undies, chest protector, full face, etc."

You're a bunch of poo nannies.
  • 21 1
 @scott-townes: oh please, not you again. Rolleyes
  • 3 21
flag scott-townes (Sep 4, 2019 at 17:13) (Below Threshold)
 @mtbikeaddict: Oh please, not another fake profile again with someone who is scared of being associated with his opinions.... eyeroll lolololz
  • 34 5
We did this a few years ago Scott when talking about Rampage.

May I ask if you are single with no significant others?
May I ask if you have any brothers or sisters, or living parents / grandparents?

You may know where I'm going with this, but just in case you are too busy being angry about limits to your personal freedoms, I'll say it anyways...

At least ask the people around you who would look after you what they want you to do. If those people are happy with the idea of having to look after you whatever, then we are all good. No worries. If they haven't been consulted about it....? Not so sure if it is cool myself.

"It's your body" ? Well, yes, until you have the accident, then it is someone else's to look after.
"Stop wasting your time...." Yes agreed. Maybe I am wasting my time too.

Ironically, possibly depending on how you define it, it would be your family who would be the "poo nannies", would they not, should you have a spinal injury. Still, you choose Scott. Not that your family would have much choice about wiping your arse though.

In the end, IMHO, it's not about personal freedom. It is about respect for others above yourself. We all have the freedom to choose what kind of person we want to be. I choose the protection out of respect for the people around me, you don't, and that's cool, your choice in the end.

But could you please cut out the "you are all a bunch of pussies" attitude. Cheers. Enjoy an injury free weekend everyone.
  • 5 28
flag scott-townes (Sep 4, 2019 at 19:38) (Below Threshold)
 @orientdave: That's a long-winded way of saying, "I care too much about what other people wear, let me utilize straw man in order to deflect from my terrible traits as a person."
  • 16 0
 Maybe, but to me it is more of a long winded way to say I have thought you are a bit of a loud mouthed git really with an attitude problem looking at your comments over the years but hey, you probably already knew that. Still, many people think that about me, so we are even there.
  • 7 1
 @scott-townes: Trying not to feed any trolling... but... fake? Scared? Ignorant and new to mtb? Really? How? Please logically and undeniably demonstrate any of those. Thank you @orientdave ... a welcome relief from the caustic vitriol that has been spreading. May everyone's weather be as fair as mine is currently, and time less packed so you can ride... Save and fun riding y'all. Smile
  • 2 1
 Knees, elbows, shins. None of which will end a career or life... Helmet, neck brace, spine protection could very much save you from a potentially career and or LIFE threatening situation. GWS KW
  • 2 1
 @kateweatherly: hey Kate, I cracked some VB in 2016 too (4 to be precise). Luckily enough didn't need surgery cause I had tonnes of arthritis due to years of other back problems.
Anyway I healed up good and I'm no pro athlete, so here's hoping you have the same luck and you're back thrashing it again real soon!
  • 42 3
 Absolutely terrifying. Glad to hear she's ok.
  • 71 40
 @antman-117: any and all personal opinions aside, if the person identifies as female it's she. If you can't handle that then just remove yourself from the conversation.
  • 35 20
 @antman-117: It really bothers you that much? lol weak shit bub
  • 16 9
 @plyawn: PB is doing that for us it seems
  • 33 20
 @antman-117: Grow up. In this day in age....? Pinkbike should ban your ability to comment.
  • 13 11
 @tiredsoul: Member since today. Enough said.
  • 29 89
flag honda50r (Sep 4, 2019 at 12:28) (Below Threshold)
 Brutal. PinkBike is now removing comments completely, bypassing "threshold" votes all-together. Doesn't align with their agenda I suppose
  • 53 13
 @honda50r: bigoted comments do not get to last
  • 16 7
 @honda50r: If the agenda is providing at least one civil micro place to comment on an injury rather than whatever opinion someone has about the person in question then yeah, those comments probably don't align with that agenda.

I'd be interested in seeing if the fine print in PB's rulebook talks about this being a free online resource and forum (ergo, that PB pays to host) and where bigoted rhetoric goes without consequence.
  • 11 32
flag b45her (Sep 4, 2019 at 13:02) (Below Threshold)
 @honda50r: yep typical feels before facts bullshit, its quite pathetic really.
  • 16 79
flag RedBurn (Sep 4, 2019 at 14:10) (Below Threshold)
 PB = radical left
  • 51 7
 @RedBurn: deleting comments that outright harass a vulnerable minority... yeah definitely a radical leftists movement not just standard behaviour for Internet forums.
  • 14 3
 @b45her: It's black and white in the rules. You can comment and make opinions but just don't misgender, deadname or insult. That still leave plenty of freedom of speech.
  • 14 2
 @RedBurn: the medical and scientific community isn't the "radical left".
  • 33 9
 Here's to a speedy recovery @kateweatherly! Also, excellent work to the mods at keeping the bigots out of this community. We're all people, lets just ride bikes.
  • 20 8
 Amen! I Hope Kate heals well and has long lasting effects from this injury. Also I hope the banning of down right bigoted idiots continues around here. It's very refreshing.
  • 5 0
 Sorry.. *no long lasting effects.
  • 18 5
 Hope the travel wasn’t too bad @kateweatherly , my sister broke her back on the east coast of Canada and flew back to the UK on Xmas eve with air canada, I don’t think she had a great time of it either! Heal up and get ready for the new season.
  • 4 1
 Sorry, meant to up vote. I missed.
  • 17 2
 Heal up Kate! Wish you a speedy recovery a lots of patience.
  • 15 3
 It can happen to anyone in this game. To those it does, this community always provides support. Healing vibes Kate.
  • 13 2
 Enormous healing vibes to you. Recover super strong!

So many injuries this year :-(
  • 12 1
 I'm so sorry you had to fly with Air Canada. They're the worst. Hope everything heals!
  • 4 9
flag mtbikeaddict (Sep 4, 2019 at 13:19) (Below Threshold)
 @kleinblake: And again
  • 3 17
flag kleinblake (Sep 4, 2019 at 13:21) (Below Threshold)
 @mtbikeaddict: I hope to one day hear the alleged “second joke” that the right has
  • 6 24
flag mtbikeaddict (Sep 4, 2019 at 13:26) (Below Threshold)
 @kleinblake: The left already provides enough jokes, why should the right crack their own? Wink
  • 15 8
 "Big injuries like this suck but it could happen to anyone."

Only mine come from mashing a keyboard and awkwardly picking up my coffee cup. @kateweatherly, sounds like a well-reasoned call heading home with a plan and here's to getting better.

As for pouring gas on the fire, thanks PB for necessarily keeping things civil and on point. Too bad it goes that direction.
  • 10 4
 Have a good recovery! So many downvotes for positive comments in here... Really makes me sad, I thought bike communities are a little different. This is a serious injury for any human, regardless of the identification. There is no reason at all to treat this differently.
  • 5 1
 Agreed, but it’s also refreshingly clear there are a lot more people of a higher caliber too. All the best to Kate for a speedy recovery.
  • 6 1
 I fractured the same vertebrae as Kate a few years ago. I was wearing a Leatt at the time, unlucky I guess. I can sympathise with her. Here’s to a full recovery with no complications.

Longest 15hr drive I’ve ever encountered, but driving with a rigid neck brace one was super nerve racking.
  • 3 7
flag mtbikeaddict (Sep 4, 2019 at 13:19) (Below Threshold)
 @kleinblake: still the same response Rolleyes
  • 1 0
 Based on the direction of impact and the location of the fracture I'm curious how well a Leatt (or other brace) works to prevent higher c-spine injuries. Its easy to understand limiting side or front-rear mobility to protect the middle vertebrae on down, but C1/2 would seem to have less inherent mobility so perhaps the neck brace can't do much.

(I did my C5/6/7, wasn't wearing a brace, still walking though)
  • 8 0
 Heal up Kate! I’m glad you were able to travel home for surgery and recovery
  • 8 1
 You rock girl! Hope you make a super fast recovery and hit the trails even harder when you do come back. You’ve got A LOT of us pulling for you, whether you know it or not.
  • 14 5
 Heal up Kate!
  • 11 2
 Speedy recovery !!
  • 12 3
 Healing vibes
  • 10 2
 Hey Kate, glad to read that you're fine. All the best for the next season.
  • 7 1
 all the best for your recovery Kate
  • 7 1
 @kateweatherly — flying anywhere with Air Canada is pretty terrible.
  • 8 3
 Heal up soon Kate! Truly terrifying shit!
  • 2 1
 Kate, I hope you keep your chin up, and find Dr.s and therapists you can really trust, and what at first news I had thought was a grave injury will only end up being a temporary impediment on your journey through life. You get to decide what you do next, and only you. What some bozos on the bus say carries no weight at's just noise that you get to focus on letting go go. Many good vibes coming your way.
  • 3 0
 Is there a reason for the UCI transgender athletes statement at the end of the article?
  • 22 4
 Likely because the last post of her broken neck brought out a bunch of bigots making hateful posts. It's unfortunate they had to go to those lengths, but some people are actually that shitty.
  • 3 1
 Awful way to finish the season, hope you'll be all sorted for summer back home
  • 3 1
 All the best Kate, glad you made it back to NZ ok. We'll keep following your progress.
  • 3 0
 @RedBurn: RedBurn = Radical Dumb
  • 2 0
 All the best Kate. Sorry to hear about the injury!
  • 1 0
 People who think Pinkbike is censoring their 'opinions' and taking away their FREEZE PEACH.
  • 1 1

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