Hight takes advised break from snowboarding
February 12, 2003
Doctors have advised 13-year-old Zephyr Cove snowboarder Elena Hight to take at least a one-month respite from her sport.
Hight has suffered the only three concussions of her six-year snowboarding career since the start of the season — the last coming before her qualifying run at the Winter X Games on Jan. 31 in Aspen, Colo. She was trying to become the youngest competitor in X Games history.
Results from Hight’s CAT scan revealed no damage, but the uncertainty of the cumulative effect of the concussions has prompted doctors to suggest that she refrain from riding for a while.
“We’re getting a lot of different feedback from experts and we want to get a third opinion before make a final decision,” said Myra Hight, Elena’s mother. “They’re advising everything from one month off to the rest of year.”
In addition to the concussion she suffered at the X Games, Hight also experienced head trauma at the Chevy Truck U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix and out of competition early in the season. She experienced dizziness with each concussion but has no lingering side effects.
With some big events still remaining this season, Hight, naturally, is excited to get back on her board.
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“It’s nice to be back home, but I wish I could go ride with everyone. I’m really anxious to get back, but I have to follow doctor’s orders,” Elena said.
Hight was a spectator at the USASA South Tahoe Snowboard Series stop at Sierra-at-Tahoe last weekend.
“I couldn’t ride or compete, but it was nice to see everyone. I hadn’t seen them in a long time,” said Elena, who started the season training at the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont.
Hight’s tricks require more spinning, bringing a higher degree of difficulty to her runs. Coupled with the the larger and harder-packed superpipes, Hight has a greater chance of experiencing a head injury compared to past seasons.
“The icy pipe is the biggest thing,” said Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation coach Ed McClain.
Elena is comfortable with the 900s — 2 1/2 revolutions — she is performing in competition. A front-side 900 helped her finish third and earn $2,700 in the U.S. Grand Prix last month.
“Women’s snowboarding has gotten a lot more difficult, has a higher standard and that’s really cool,” she said. “You want to do more — not that you have to — so you can finish higher.”
Myra hasn’t seen that competitive side of her daughter in previous seasons
and that concerns her.
“I never had to worry about her in the past because she was very conservative. Now she is going all out,” Myra said.
To reduce the chance of her daughter sustaining more concussions in the future, Myra is considering Whelmets, a multiple-impact helmet that absorbs more shock.
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