Kate Weatherly Breaks Neck in Training - Mont-Sainte-Anne DH World Championships 2019

Sep 1, 2019 at 17:23
by Sarah Moore  

There was some confusion during the broadcast when Kate Weatherly didn't start today. She announced after the race that she’d broken her first vertebrae, the atlas (C1), in practice.

We wish her all the best for a full recovery.


  • 142 3
 Jesus Christ MSA is killing everyone Eek
  • 26 0
 They didn’t report anything on XC either- 1 rider went down hard during the men’s elite XC and they had to close the drop.
  • 81 3
 Really surprised neckbraces are less and less common. Alot less riders are using them but racers are going faster than ever.
  • 8 0
 @ninjatarian: it was Kevin Panhuyzen from Belgium (he finished 15 in Val di Sole and 19 in Lenzerheide), but as you said he had a bad crash on the new big drop on the XC course (fourth lap).

  • 14 8
 @makripper: yeah wtf hey? People too scared of a broken collarbone I guess, seems reasonable.
  • 8 0
 And everything. Never seen so many flats and exploded wheels, bikes with crap falling off in a race. Hope she gets a good surgeon and gets drilled back together proper.
  • 11 0
 @makripper: That's a good point and I noticed as well specially this season. Hard to say if that would have prevented this but any neck injury is massive. Speedy recovery!
  • 19 13
 @makripper: The problem is that neck braces may not do a whole lot. I am not an expert though I've done engineering work with people making helmets with improved performance against they type of longitudinal shock that's apparently a common source of spinal cord injuries. The word there is you can't really support the neck against the shoulders to support the spine since shoulders are too compressible top it to make any difference. That's not the same as hitting a rock with vertebrae though, but I confess I have not looked at the literature on braces in mountain biking, or even if there is any.
  • 35 19
 @makripper: there's actually little to no research supporting the efficacy of neck braces preventing c-spine fractures in MTB'ing. Only recently had there been a study from Motocross showing a correlation, but that in no way translates to MTB'ing because one thing the study highlighted was that efficacy was dependent on a neck brace/helmet system being worn, as opposed to random neck brace from company x with random helmet from company y.

Mountain bike helmets really do not fit well with neck braces and don't actually do their job in preventing axial loading, which is what really causes bad neck fractures. They also don't necessarily prevent flexion/extension enough to prevent subluxation of c-spine vertebrae.

It's currently a major misconception that braces do anything in MTB'ing other than increase the number of clavicle fractures that we're seeing associated with neck braces.
  • 4 53
flag Krampis (Sep 1, 2019 at 18:53) (Below Threshold)
 @bigmike9699: nek braces are lame.
  • 33 4
 @bigmike9699: as a previous c-spine injury ‘survivor’ I don’t DH without one. Have crashed hard enough to break surrounding bones so while I’m n=1 I’m confident the Leatt did its job.
  • 31 2
 @bigmike9699: Or maybe neck braces make collarbones work like derailleur hangars do for most riders.. save the more expensive and vital components from damage
  • 54 1
 @bigmike9699: Actually not true.. the first properly designed neck brace for multi-action sports the Leatt brace is the ONLY neck brace that was medically designed and tested to reduce forces on the neck. Often copied, and over time people have tried to associate these devices with (like you mention) clavicle fractures.

Full face helmets prevent the bodies tendency to roll to dissipate the forces in a crash which is why you can still get a high C fracture with a Normal style helmet where a full face (unless you get an impact causing a lot of helmet rotation resulting in a highC fracture) will generally get lower C spine fractures from when the helmet prevents the body from rolling and the helmet itself causes a 'helmet induced C spine injury.

Neck braces DO a lot to minimise the forces on the neck in these type of crashes and the LEATT brace has been specifically designed to do its job to minimise the force then break to allow the body to roll if it is needed. The Only thing that leatt as a company could be accused of is actually dropping the ball on the Science promotion and efficacy of their Neck braces. This has occurred over time as they focus on other safety products that are more about form, function and arent so science based such as knee and elbow protection where people don't want to have a science test to show them how their elbow will be protected they want colours and logos.

All of Leatt's original data showed that a properly designed brace with FF helmet minimises the forces on the neck area in not just one, but multi axis. The rest is up to the randomness of crashes, speed, steepness of track etc etc.. So whilst it is one part of a protection system it is an important one. Roll the dice if you want, the difference could be sipping through a straw or actually making a recovery. That is the difference between lowering forces.

The other often un-thought of (you mention it somewhat with neck / helmet system) is when was the last time someone brought a helmet and actually thought about how the extended chin bar on some helmets is going to be a massive lever on your head and neck compared to another brand when you actually put them bases together to check same sizes for profile. So, if you guys think neck protection is shit then at least choose the lowest profile, lightest (but still DH etc rated) helmet out there. Never DH or MTB in a helmet designed and tested for MOTO. The amount of kids I used to see at BMX races putting their kids in the wrong size and or inappropriate full face helmets because their confederation didn't have a specific stipulation...
  • 33 1
 Chris Leatt was on the Downtime podcast a couple of months ago and he says they've done extensive research and says braces can prevent many neck injuries, He also says you're less likely to break your collarbone wearing a brace. Listen to the pod. Obviously he's going to say these things but it seems like he has some evidence to substantiate theses claims. I really don't see a downside to wearing a brace other than the cost of buying one.
  • 2 2
 Protection, no matter how effective it is, will always be determined by how many others are wearing it and how it feels. As far as neck braces go, i have no opinions.
  • 5 7
 Time to move the Canadian world cup stops out west! Vancouver has some of the best spinal surgeons in North America
  • 14 0
 Here is a link to a study that was produced with funding from BMW so that Dr. Leatt could analyze the efficacy of the brace and the nature of impacts.

I've broken cervical and thoracic vertebrae, and I'm happy to wear a brace and chest/spine protector

  • 6 0
 I will chime in to say that I was at the world cup at MSA 2 years ago and I am here now. The course is exactly the same. A track walk this morning yielded a completely dry course. To me it seems like the riders are pushing limits super far. The sport is pushing the limits and unfortunately sometimes it catches up with racers. I feel for those who got hurt and hope they get better soon. P.S. there were several more people being taken off on boards this weekend in the XC and DH. This is just a rough place to race.
  • 1 0
  • 5 0
 Honestly I've been trying to fit al leatt into my ski setup somehow. We are going bigger every year and have seen some consequences unfortunately.
  • 12 1
 @makripper: i tried to upvote you on my phone but created a blank post. Since I'm here - I hear a lot of talk about lack of neck brace science. I can feel what it;'s doing - keeping me from snapping my damn neck. I already compressed a couple vertebrae before I used one.. The only reason kids don't wear them is because they look some kinda way. I barely notice it and it if works then great if not well I'm f*cked. A very experienced racer I see every so often At races sold me on the concept and about 30mins later Leatt handed me a 35% discount coupon at their booth. Grabbed a carbon one and joined the Legion of Kooks.I have felt it control the violent movement of my helmet in ways that made me feel cared for. I've spent decades in the skater world and ppl don't wear helmets for the same dumb reasons - image.
  • 2 0
 @Krampis: In Nebraska, yeah I can see that.
  • 1 1
 @Mntneer: Unfortunately none of those will help with a thoracic vertebrae compression fracture which last study I read accounted for about 80% of all vertebrae fractures in mx. I'm guessing mtb would follow this trend.
  • 1 0
 @nissmo127: good info. I'll still continue to wear my spine protector tho. I had always assumed that my fracture was from landing hard on my back during a road bike otb, but I took some of the fall on my AC joint and that could have transferred the force into my spine
  • 1 1
 @dmanvan23: This girl looks like she was sponsored by Leatt. But in the photo, although hard to see, it looks like she isn't wearing it. So, was she wearing it I wonder, and if she was does this mean it doesn't work? It would be interesting to know.
  • 1 1
 @bigmike9699: and considering c1 has a little range of movement I personally don't think a neck brace reduce an impact on it...
  • 2 0
 I just fractured my C7 spinous process 2 weeks ago riding at Thunder. I wasn’t wearing my Leatt that day and can only wonder what if?? Best of luck to Kate, it’s quite alarming hearing you broke your neck.
  • 3 0
 @rolandpoland: saw her riding in Les Gets and surrounding parks during the week of the world cup. Whilst covered in Leatt gear never saw her in a neck brace. We all noticed and thought it a bit strange you would be sponsored by the company synonymous for neck braces and not have one.
  • 3 0
 @Tmackstab: Have a read of the Canadian medical study recently out or the downtime podcast from the dude at Leatt. Both debunk the myth that neck braces break collarbones. They show a 30+% reduction in broken collarbones from wearing them.
  • 2 1
 @makripper: There’s a surprising lack of information on Leatt’s website, however my understanding is neck braces protect against hyperflexion (chin-to-chest) and hyperextension (‘looking-up’ or head-to-side). A fracture to C1 could be caused by a compression force along the axis of the spine (very, very serious and potentially fatal) and I don’t believe neck braces provide any protection against this type of injury.
  • 5 0
 @loachy: She is sponsored by the NZ distributor of Leatt, ADU Industries. She is no more, or no less a Leatt athlete than you or I; she just gets some gear for free or on the cheap from the Kiwi importer.
  • 2 0
 @Clem-mk: you have heard of axial compression forces?? a neck brace does help to mitigate the effect on these as well by sending some of the force through the shoulders ..so yes they can lower the force means less of a break.... in many instances a break that is less complete on a spinal bone is going to give a lot less long term complications...
  • 2 0
 @The-Foiling-Optimist: There is a lot of literature on them. Google is a powerful tool that will help you find several studies with one search.
  • 3 2
 @bigmike9699: Dude stop talking out of your ass when you literally have NO idea what you are talking about. This is one of the most egregious displays of ignorance I have ever seen in an internet comment. A single internet search would tell you everything you need to know, including the fact that braces do not increase the likelihood of breaking your collarbone.

  • 2 1
 @skycripp: pinkbike doesn't like science.
  • 1 0
 @skycripp: thanks for linking to that article. This study was conducted by an ambulance service that works for amateur MX race circuits, so speeds, kinds of impacts, helmet weights, and other factors might not apply directly to mountain biking. The data does seem to suggest that wearing a brace tends to reduce the severity of a cervical spine injury but its not an exact science; them saying "a Non-Critical Cervical Spine injury is 75% more likely without a neck brace" is their interpretation of the data.

The difference in numbers of injuries - 239 without brace, 26 with brace - could also be attributed to any number of other factors. Its not as if every single rider had the same exact crash, same speed, same helmet, same age. You'd have to run the same accident with and without brace to be able to confidently state that not wearing a brace is 89% more likely to result in a critical c-spine injury.

They clearly state that people break clavicles wearing neck braces, just at a lower frequency than not wearing one.

Its an interesting set of numbers though and I commend their work and dedication to safe riding.
  • 1 0
 Maybe something like a Point Two Air jacket used for 3 day eventing could be designed for mtb racing It may be heavy and bulky be that's better than crashing and coming up bent. Spinal injuries are a life long event .Any thing that protects having that injury is good for the rider is it not?
  • 42 7
 Sad to see some people can't show some sympathy. Hope she's okay.
Was it on the same drop as Brook?
  • 16 4
 Talking about bro? There isn't a single negative comment...
  • 162 25
 @MitchThompson89: I’ve had to do some deleting and banning.
  • 26 8
 @MitchThompson89: The comments have been removed. Which is good.
  • 18 11
 @brianpark: I'm afraid you've got a bit of work to do yet. Can I suggest you start with blazebike? Sad to see how many idiots will exploit any opportunity to vent their prejudices.
  • 10 15
flag blazebike (Sep 2, 2019 at 6:49) (Below Threshold)
 @Malky79: id be happy to have a civil, friendly conversation
  • 23 32
flag kubaner (Sep 2, 2019 at 7:02) (Below Threshold)
 Its sad that we can't decide for ourselves what comments are offensive to us.
And so what if they are?
That's what downvotes are for.
What I want to know is what happened on Vipavee Deekorballes run? Smile Smile Smile Smile
  • 31 11
 @Malky79: yep blazebike and phuzz21 are now suspended from the site.
  • 106 7
 @kubaner: It's not about what you find offensive, it's about the kind of environment we want to have on our site. 100% regardless of anyone's position on Kate Weatherly racing, dropping snide comments on a story about how she broke her neck is the height of disrespect and totally unacceptable.
  • 22 9
 @brianpark: Perfectly put. I'm glad Pinkbike are taking a strong stance on offensive content.
  • 15 2
 @brianpark: Good job man. No matter what side you fall on in the racing debate, she deserves respect as a human being. I hope her all the best in her recovery.
  • 7 3
 @brianpark: Thanks for doing the hard work.
  • 6 4
 @brianpark: Thanks for the good work you do. Looking at @blazebike (Cole Taylor)'s profile it seems like they are just here to make transphobic comments.
  • 4 3
 @brianpark I hope Kate heals up well and soon. And while i agree that these comments are low blows given the circumstances, does this mean that pinkbike will respond to comments other than those related to the LGBTQ+ community? Where is that line being drawn?
Most of us come to pinkbike to read about our two-wheeled passion, but in some ways it's also a platform for sharing ideas. If pinkbike doesn't like those ideas, does that mean censorship is going to become a theme?
  • 8 1
 @aarontherider: Pinkbike have the right to choose the content that they host on their own site, just as members have a choice to use another site or start their own.
As Pinkbike is a mountain biking site I'm sure the majority of members wish to discuss biking matters. There's lots of other sites people can go on to discuss politics/religion/gender theory etc.
I'm all for Pinkbike "censoring" comments that cause unnecessary offence or are likely to. The alternatives are:
- removing the ability for members to comment at all
- a total free-for-all whereby any opinion no matter how prejudiced or offensive is tolerated. I shudder to think how ugly that would be.
  • 2 0
 @aarontherider: violating a sites TOS isn't. Censorship.
  • 2 1
 @aarontherider: we have pretty clear guidelines on what we allow on our site. Ideas are important, debate is encouraged, but purposeful misgendering, bigotry, and trolling are not—regardless of if it's related to LGBTQ+ issues or just garden variety racism/misogyny/etc.
  • 28 1
 Glad to hear it doesn't sound to be 'too serious' but sorry to hear that you're injured. Kiwis and Necks don't seem to be going too well this week!
  • 3 0
 Glad she's got total feeling and has good faith that all will be good. But still, scary stuff! Lots of top riders have been injured this season in both DH as well as EWS. Let's hope next season everyone is good again and actually manages to ride a full season.
  • 27 0
 All the best for your recovery Kate.Brutal place for Kiwis
  • 20 2
 Best wishes to Kate for a speedy recovery.

And, my experience makes n=2. Racing last year I got spat over the front end so fast, and hit the boulders head-first so hard, that the crowd went silent because they thought I was gonna die. I did too. Broke the helmet, an arm, and a wrist. I am 100% convinced that the Leatt helmet/brace combo saved my life. I got up and finished my run instead of being carted off in a litter.

To each their own, but if I'm wearing the big helmet I'm wearing the brace too.
  • 6 0
 Make that 3 of us! I have used a leatt most of my racing time and had one day where I thought it wouldn’t be needed. Managed to fly out the front door and landed on my head. My head rolled forward so hard the chinguard on my full face broke my sternum. The doc that checked me out said I did NOT get a concussion somehow and only serious damage other than the sternum was a partially pinched nerve that stung for a month in my arm. I’m 100% convinced if I had been wearing the leatt that day I would not have broke my sternum and I wouldn’t have gone to the hospital that day. I have no idea how I didn’t break my neck to be fair.

From now on, if the full face goes on, the leatt goes with it. I even race enduro in a leatt.
  • 1 0
 @HurricaneCycles: glad you're OK! This sort of empirical data is more important to me than that that of theorists and their ‘lack of evidence’. There is also a bit of psychological comfort racing with one (“hey, I tried”). As an atheist I realize this sounds like some kind of faith-based hokum on my part.
  • 19 0
 Terrible news Kate, i hope you get the support you need and are back up riding again soon
  • 17 2
 No matter what your thoughts are on Kate, an injury like this completely blows and I hate seeing any rider have to deal with any serious injury, especially head or spine injuries. I think the Kiwis need to steer clear of MSA in future. Heal Up Kate and Brooke.
  • 15 1
 So that brings it to 3 Kiwi's with broken or fractured vertebrae so far this year!
Bryn Dickerson, fractured a few vertebrae in training early in the season
Brook MacDonald, fractured vertebrae in practice
Kate Weatherly, fractured vertebrae in practice.

Maybe the rest of the Kiwi's should skip training and practice and just go to the pub?
As Wyn says, "Win or loose we're on the booze!"
  • 12 0
 Best wishes for a healthy recovery Kate!
  • 9 1
 As a Kiwi I was thinking of headed to the bike park this weekend....I think I'll stay home and avoid the obvious curse right now.
  • 6 0
 Typing this with a broken wrist in a cast. Hooked a bar on a double black high consequences drop and took all of the impact on outstretched arms and my head. Got knocked out, broke helmet. Neck was fine.Truly feel my Leatt neck brace helped out more than a little.
  • 6 1
 You can’t believe this is happening ? Are you watching and looking at these tracks now a days. Some are a little tamer than others, but you could break your neck just walking down this track, seriously. These guys Pointblank are the best mountain bike riders in the world and put their skills on display every time they ride. Along with taking their life, into their own hands.
  • 4 0
 I can confirm that neck braces do there job. Have taken 3 very very very hard falls to the head off gaps in dh and it has saved me. But it’s just so uncomfortable at some points, but what ever keeps me from sipping out of a straw the next day.
  • 1 0
 Did you adjust the fit so it conforms to your parameters.
  • 7 9
 How do you know it saved you? Did you had the same crash without one?
  • 4 0
 I saw this crash in person (maybe?) didn't recognize the rider. Last jump before the finish line training on Saturday. Rider cased hard, rebounded over the bars and then directly onto head and back. Super hard hit! Responders got her up, put her on a quad and driven off the hill.
  • 1 0
 Was not that one!
  • 3 0
 Jeez Kate, sorry to hear that! Hope it's not too bad. I assume your spinal cord wasn't damaged, luckily ??
Take your time to heal properly. Spinal injuries are no joke!
Wonder what kind of treatment you'll have. Remember when Dan Atherton had a C-spine fracture he had to have this frame attached to his head at first, creepy, but he did have a full recovery!

What a freakin' full of injuries this year has been.
Writing this with a double-bone ankle fracture... 1 month post surgery...

Healing vibes, to all of you fallen this year Smile
  • 6 0
 Here's to a complete, and quick, recovery.
  • 6 0
 Healing vibes and speedy recovery.
  • 3 0
 i wear one. and recommend that anyone doing air time on a DH bike wear one. statistics are solid. www.cyclenews.com/2018/12/article/neck-brace-effectiveness-study
  • 3 0
 Any new on which drop on the course, was it tarzan, the before the second long straight or the awkward shark fin rock drop just a bit higher than that
  • 5 0
 Healing vibes from the Uk...get well and come back next year!
  • 5 0
 Oh man, sorry to hear this. healing vibes sent!
  • 5 0
 Heal up well Kate and come back stronger next year!
  • 5 0
 Speedy recovery !
  • 3 0
 Curious if they learnt from Brook and got her off the mountain quicker. Hoping for a speedy recovery!
  • 3 0
 Does anyone know how long it took to get her evacuated? I hope it wasn't a four hour wait like Brook.
  • 4 2
 Hey Kate. Tough pull. I was really hoping you’d take the win to push this whole thing through the the square hole! Heal quickly and gods speed!
  • 5 1
 Heal up fast Kate - you’ve had an awesome season
  • 3 1
 wtf... feeling less bummed about not making it to MSA for this! Too much carnage
  • 4 1
 Jeez, MSA is brutal this year
  • 4 0
 Heal up Kate!!
  • 2 0
 What the hell is up with this track?
  • 2 0
 What an absolute brutal weekend...
  • 2 0
 Been there. Not fun. Enjoy the Endone while you have it Kate.
  • 2 0
 Best wishes to you, Kate.
  • 2 0
 Heal up quick, Kate.
  • 1 0
 Good luck with your recovery.
  • 1 0
 Speedy and full recovery!!!
  • 3 4
 I was there and I don't saw any riders with a neck brace or any protection. Helmet, that's it!
  • 5 0
 Many riders wear protection under the jersey.
  • 10 0
 @SleepingAwake: Back protection was mandatory at MSA as well.
  • 7 9
 Please set up a crowd funding source for Kate and Brook. I for one would love to contribute to both of their recoveries.
  • 10 1
 I would hope that as a Red Bull athlete, Brook will want for nothing in his treatment and recovery. As a privateer Kate may be in greater need of financial assistance.
  • 2 0
 @Malky79: I wonder if ACC covers overseas accidents?
  • 3 0
 @andrewmtbfreak: ACC covers you for up to 6 months abroad.Its pretty awesome really.
  • 5 2
 @hvmatt: Look out, you'll have all those capitalist 'muricans in here screaming communism and down with free health care.....shhhh....
  • 2 0
 @andrewmtbfreak: bikenz require (or use to require) riders racing overseas to have insurance for unfortunate events such as this
  • 2 0
 @rrsport: Thats probably right.ACC only covers you when you get home to NZ-so Brook and Kate's rehab,physio etc will be covered when they get home. When I injured myself abroad ACC covered my salary when I got home in the same way as if I'd been injured in NZ,I have no idea how that would work for a sponsored rider or privateer.
  • 4 0
 @hvmatt: 80% of your last six weeks income per week until deemed fit to work again, just like everyone else. The level of ACC payout between Brook and Kate though will be pretty sizable. I can't imagine that Kate has had much of a real income over the past month and a half, whereas Brook is a fully paid professional.
  • 36 39
 MSA's rocks have always been all-inclusive
Below threshold threads are hidden

You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2023. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.363704
Mobile Version of Website