A Tale of Two Crashes
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way… ~ Charles Dickens
- in short, it was a race like any other among men at the top of the sport. National Speedskating Circuit, season three, event two, Grand Champion race, the last card of the evening. Before it would end, two of the league’s top stars, 20 year old Jake “The Snake” Powers, and 36 year old Jeremy “The Hammering Husky” Anderson would be involved in the worst wreck in NSC history.
Each man went into the race a champion, with Powers being the defending Grand Champion, and Anderson being the 100m Fastest Man on Skates. Within a split second that would all change. Almost as fast as you could blink an eye both athletes slammed into the cement wall that borders the track. It was apparent immediately the seriousness of their crashes. Powers would come away with a broken elbow, Anderson, a broken collar bone. Now instead of celebrating their performances, they are dealing with the not so fun side of the sport. Crashes as serious as this equal training setbacks and mental and emotional trauma. There is always that possibility that even if the racer fully recovers physically, that mentally they will never be the same. I’m sure the last thing either Anderson or Powers want is to have a Ricky Bobby moment. Only time will tell.
NSC News Desk caught up with both skaters to get their individual take on what happened that night.
NSC News Desk: First off, how are you doing with your recovery? Do each of you have a support network helping with your recovery?
Jake Powers: I have been working with a couple of sports medicine doctors to rehab my arm and get back to training as soon as possible. Like always, my mom and the rest of my family have really helped me out. I can always count on them anytime I need anything. I couldn’t do any of the things I do without them.
Jeremy Anderson: I haven’t started any rehab as of yet, I still have staples in my skin. Once they are out ( this week ) then I can start moving my arm. Since I had a metal plate, screws and a bone graft, I will let the doctor tell me how to proceed with rehab. Friends and family have been great, people have made me food, taken me to the store to get groceries, and really helped out a lot. I appreciate all the people that helped me, and asked if I’m o.k., thank you!!
NSC: Okay, since neither of you have seen a video playback of the race; tell us what you remember about the crash. What happened out there?
Powers: Right, I haven’t seen a replay, so I’m going all from memory here. Coming around the lap before the fall I was in fourth, Jarret Paul and another skater, I can’t remember who, got tangled up in front of me, so I went to pass both of them. Jarret grabbed my hip mid-straightaway, causing me to lose a lot of speed going into the turn that the fall would happen in. Going into that corner I saw Jeremy and Donavon (Sellers) to the inside of my line. Donavon ran into me sending me wide in the corner as Jeremy went to the inside of him. The next thing I saw was Jeremy spun around facing me. I had nowhere to go except into him. Jeremy and I hit each other and we both went into the wall at top speed.
Anderson: No, I haven’t seen the replay yet, I want to though. I heard the footage was awesome! Well from memory, it was the Grand Champion’s Race, the last race of the night. I was in 2nd place trying to catch Cheex, (Michael Cheek, current Grand Champion as a result of this race). I felt a lot of passing behind me, and going into the corner where we fell, I felt someone’s hand on my hip, which spun me around backwards. I tried to hold myself up, and I remember thinking I can turn around and keep racing. At that point I hit the wall. It came up so fast. I was stunned.
NSC: What was going through your mind when you knew you’d lost control? Anything?
Powers: There wasn’t really a point where I knew things were going to go bad until I was already down and hit the wall. There are lots of times during the races where we hit each other and almost fall but don’t. At first this just seemed like another one of those times.
Anderson: I really thought I could get back in the race. Then all of a sudden I hit the wall, hard! I’ve never hit the wall that hard. Usually we hit the floor and stop. When I was backwards I thought I had more time to turn back around, but obviously not!
NSC: Watching the crash was horrific enough, but seeing you both laid out on the track was even worse. Time seemed to stand still, when we were all wondering how you’d both come away from that impact. Can you remember anything about what you were going through in those moments immediately after going down?
Powers: The first thing I was worried about after hitting the wall was my ankle. I hit with my left foot first and rolled my ankle when it hit the wall. That’s the reason I didn’t get up right away. I couldn’t feel my ankle to get up and out of the way. I was also worried about someone else running into me, since there was a couple laps left in the race. But at the time there was no way for me to get up, and no where to go even if I did. I knew my elbow was a little banged up but that pain didn’t really hit me till about 10 minutes after the fall. When I went to put my skates away and couldn’t straighten my arm, that’s when I knew there was something seriously wrong with my arm.
Anderson: First I couldn’t breathe for a while, and I couldn’t move my left arm. I knew I’d broken something. I was hoping it wasn’t my back. I am glad it was only my collar bone. I was glad people came out to check on me. Once I got up on my feet, I saw Jake laying there. I didn’t even know someone else fell, and I’m sorry to hear about his elbow.
NSC: With the fourth race just about two weeks away, tell us what this has done to your 2012 season. What were your plans before the crash, how have they changed since? What’s your outlook for a comeback & when will you be skating again?
Powers: This has caused some issues with my training. I’ve ended up having to take 2 weeks off, doing nothing. I just recently got back on my skates, but I’ve only been able to do some slow technique stuff. I haven’t been able to do any of my normal weight program because of my arm. It’s going to put me about a month behind with where I would have liked to be with my training. And because of this, I won’t be able to race the March 15th NSC event. I’m hoping to make a full recovery and be back and ready to race for the April NSC event.
Anderson: Well at this point I haven’t put skates back on. I’m hoping I can start skating again soon. I was in really good shape before the crash, but now I’ve been lying around just waiting for the bone to heal. It’s going good though. I feel I’ll be able to compete really soon, if the doctor gives me the O.K. I might try to do the March event. But if not then for sure I’ll be there for April’s event. This crash has not scared me; it was just a freak thing that happened. I’m confident I’ll be back, even better than before.
NSC: Injuries like these have a ripple effect on all aspects of your life. How far reaching have the consequences been for each of you?
Powers: Right now, skating is one of the biggest things in my life. I’m training full time now in Salt Lake City at the Olympic Oval. This injury has put a kink in that for the moment, but I’m confident that within the next month or so I’ll be able to get back to my normal training schedule.
Anderson: It’s had an effect on my ability to work! I have to make money for my family, and this put me out for a week. You have to understand, something like this has never happened to me before. I really couldn’t do anything for a week after surgery. I’m back to work now, and I’m lucky to have a job that supports my racing, giving me time off when needed.
NSC: The fact that both of you have the desire to skate again on March 15 speaks volumes of your passion for skating. We want you both to know we’re pulling for you and we wish you both a quick and full recovery. As we wrap this up, tell us, with two of the league’s top stars out of commission for the March card, what are your predictions for the March 15 event? Who’s the guy to beat if you’re not there?
Powers: That’s a tough question, but I have to go with Michael Cheek. There’s going to be freshly coated floor and I don’t think anyone else is in as good of shape as he is. Other than me of course! (Laughing out loud)
Anderson: These first events were awesome, even though the floor hasn’t been re-coated for a while. I feel Will “the Wild Thing” Bowen will be the guy to beat. He’s proven more than anyone that he is the man for Sprints. Cheex in my opinion has the endurance and confidence to win. Although really it’s anyone’s race out there. Things happen!
What sets these athletes apart from others is their fearless commitment to our sport. Neither one has any intentions of hanging on the sidelines for long. Let’s all hope for a speedy recovery.
Be sure to tune in March 15th at 6:30 PST to watch event 3 of the season. You never know what’s around the next cone…