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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