Thursday, March 17, 2011


It started out well... Yesterday Scott started teh Giant Slalom bib number 73 in soft conditions at the NORAM Cup Finals here in Whistler, BC. Although the likelihood of scoring in this situation was low, he went out with a smile to take it on. He had a very good first run, moving up to 24th and in position for a major result. He started 7th the second run and was skiing well when it all came undone. On the final pitch his outside ski got stuck in soft snow and he straddled the next gate at full velocity. The gate shattered and Scott spun, snapping backward to the ground. I was there were it happened and after he slid some 200+feet he sat for awhile before getting up. This was out of character since he normally leaps back to his feet so others won't worry.

When he skied down to me I could see something was "off," although he tried to act normal. I decided to keep an eye on him all the way back to his hotel, then had him come spend the afternoon awake with us in a quiet room downstairs.

That evening the Team doctor examined Scott and administered an IMPACT test (explained below). The outcome was that Scott's mental faculties were fine, but his reaction time was .007 seconds slower than his norm. After consultation between the doc, the trainer and Scott, it was decided he should sit out a day, especially since today was to be slalom. I was very pleased with how the Team handled this, and the decision. Scott's taking it seriously and understands the importance.

The IMPACT test was adopted by the US Ski Team several years ago. In fact, it was one of the first major sports federations to fully commit to the program. Scott took his first IMPACT test three years ago when he went to the Trofeo Topolino with the Team. Since that time nearly every college athletic program, and many school districts, have also signed up. Last year our division, the Pacific Northwest Ski Association, bought into the program for all of its athletes.

The IMPACT test is computer driven and takes 20-30 minutes to administer. It measures cognitive, retentive and reaction abilities using a variety of interactive programs. The test is mentally demanding (at least for me) and must be administered in an environment without noise or distractions. Here's how the program works:
-- Athletes 11 and older take the test and form a baseline.
-- Athletes age 11-19 should retest at least every two years due to how rapidly the brain changes during this period.
-- If an injury occurs, the athlete takes another IMPACT test and the results are compared to the baseline. Doctors are able to determine the extent of the injury, what parts of the brain are injured and estimate approximate recovery times. Of course, recovery times differ greatly between individuals, so subsequent tests are administered to monitor progress.

Scott's "chillin" right now and looking forward to tomorrow's slalom races. Guess I'm "chillin" too.

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