November 6, 2012

Knowing When To Withdraw From Competition

I managed to view the unfortunate accident which occurred between Adam Rippon and Nan Song this weekend at the Cup of China 2012 today, and I can only imagine the latter's regret and pain (physical and otherwise) at having to withdraw following the head-on warm-up collision in Shanghai.

Song was eventually taken to hospital, and kept overnight for observation having been diagnosed with a concussion. Obviously there was nothing he, or anyone, could do about this situation, and all that was left to do was to rest up, heal, and set his sights on future events. This case was a straight-forward one: he had no choice but to withdraw from the competition. But many other times things aren't so clear cut, and a skater must make a choice between being potentially detrimental to his/her health, or missing out on an event they've worked hard to shine in. So, how do you know when to withdraw?
Working all season for that one event? Perhaps you've even been through qualifying rounds to earn your spot in said competition. Of course, you'll be doing all that you can to make sure you're fighting fit and feeling great. Unfortunately however, illness and injury can strike at the most inopportune times. I'm well placed to talk about it, and blogged on the subject of the back injury that put me not only out of nationals, but out of skating, over in this post

So what steps can you take to evaluate the situation at hand? To withdraw, or not to withdraw!

Is The Answer Obvious?
If you're in horrendous pain from a fresh injury, chances are you're going to need to get things seen to and the first port of call is usually time away from the rink to let the injury settle, have it evaluated by a medical expert, and understand the extent of the damage.

The answer to the big question of event withdrawal will also be apparent to you and your entourage if you are suffering badly from an illness, such as a viral or bacterial infection. If you are bed-ridden with flu and a fever fervent enough to cause pain in all your limbs, chances are your program ain't gonna get a look in.

In these situations, the answer is obvious. You've been really unlucky, but you know deep down you are not physically capable of competing. 

What About When Things Aren't So Clear Cut?
Obviously the first thing to do in any situation is to seek medical advice. Your health should always come first: your body will be around when skating is a fond memory from yesteryear. 

Ask your doctor's honest advice on whether s/he thinks that you can compete. They'll tell it to you straight. If you're suffering from a chest infection and are having a hard time breathing, running a 4 minute program might not be what your body needs right now. Apply common sense, and listen to your medical practitioner!

The same goes with your physiotherapist. When it comes to soft tissue injuries and the possibility of further damage through extensive use, your physio will be able to tell you the do's and dont's of getting your poorly muscle or tendon better as fast as possible.

There is often a further-damage factor with soft tissue injuries that must be taken seriously when considering working through an injury. This is true of both fresh and old injuries which may plague you season long. 

Ask Yourself How Missing This Event Impacts Your Season
Is this the qualifier for nationals? And if so, and you manage to get through it, could the potential damage from doing so jeopardise the big event? Could you replace this event with another in your calendar, and give your body time to heal? Whenever the answer to this latter question was yes for me, I would always do it. 

Try and weigh the impact of missing this particular event, and count this in your decision. If you have a cold, are feeling less than perfect, but this is nationals that you trained for all year and qualified to compete in, then the right thing to do might be to try your best and be proud you made it there in the first place.

Ultimately, a range of factors will weigh in your withdrawal decision, but remember, your health is not something you can buy back. Always look after you first.

The Logistics Of Withdrawing
So you decided to withdraw from the event? Here are a few points you need to sort out before you can concentrate all your efforts on feeling great again:

Let Your Coach Know & Talk Out The Financials
The first person who should know when you make such a decision is your coach. The fact that you are no longer attending the event may have financial implications for your coach. Perhaps you were participating in his/her travel fees, or were paying for their time. It's common courtesy to let them know as soon as possible so they can re-arrange things if necessary.

Tell The Event Organiser
Your name needs to be removed from the line up, so that you're not expected on the ice come competition time. Let's face it, no one wants their name called for a warm up to simply not appear. The thought alone is horrid!

Tell the event organisation team as soon as you can. If its early enough, they'll keep your name from being published in printed materials such as the program, and you may even manage to obtain a refund of your entry fees. Don't hold your breath though.

Try And Sell Any Unused Travel Tickets / Hotel Rooms
Other skaters from your club may appreciate the room you booked in a hotel that's now sold out. If you booked a train ticket, anyone from your area who fancies seeing the event may be interested: for an increased chance of selling it on art short-notice, knock 20% off the price you bought it at. You're getting some of your money back, which is better than nothing. Post on Facebook or put up a flyer at your rink to let people know the situation.

Once Its Done, Start To Get Well
No one likes pulling out of an event they've been preparing for, obsessing over. But now you've made your decision, you need to accept it. The ice will be there once you're back on your feet, and right now your job is to get to that point where you feel great enough to go back out there and tackle your season will all your strength!

If this is happening to you, I extend my heart-felt sympathies. I've been there, I know. It sucks. But don't worry, you'll be back in a jiffy ^_^

Until next time, keep skating and stay healthy!

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