Journey back to the ice: Skaters recover after slash

ACCIDENT

April 23, 2007|By Amy Burkholder CNN
Canadian pairs skaters Bryce Davison and Jessica Dube placed in the Top 10 at last year's World Figure Skating Championships.

Their story reads like a figure skating fairy tale: Jessica Dube, a 19-year-old, French-speaker, and at 4 feet 11, a pixie princess. The handsome Bryce Davison, 21, was her English-speaking prince. Among Canada's top-ranked pairs skaters, they just clicked.

"We couldn't speak each other's languages -- we just knew what the other was thinking on the ice," explains Davison. "All it took was a glance at each other's eyes and we knew what was going on."

Dube and Davison placed in the Top 10 at last year's World Figure Skating Championships and had every ambition for a top spot at the Four Continents Ice Skating Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in February.

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But that's when, in mid-spin, Davison's skate hit Dube's face.

On ESPN's exclusive video of the February 8 accident, the audience audibly gasps as one moment the pair are side by side in a "camel spin," a move judged by its spectacular speed and how close they get; and the next moment, Dube collapses in sobs, blood staining the ice.

For months, the brutal accident played on YouTube. Now back on the ice, the skaters are talking about their recovery -- emotional as well as physical -- after the devastating accident.

"We were skating the best we've skated our long program all year and all of a sudden -- maybe there was a lapse in our focus," recalls Davison. "The half-revolution before my skate hit her face, I knew we were too close."

The skate, which has two blades just millimeters apart, was estimated to be going 40 mph when it slashed Dube's face.

Pumped full of morphine, Dube was rushed to Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, where she was met by facial trauma surgeon J. Christopher Pruitt. She'd already lost a lot of blood from the gash, which was nearly four inches long, stretching across the bridge of her nose and onto her cheek -- and deep.

"You could do a similar cut with a knife blade being slashed across the face," says Pruitt. "Fortunately, the wound occurred along 'relaxed skin tension lines.' Those tend to heal with less conspicuous scars. We were able to get it back together with a good degree of accuracy." Pruitt closed the wound in layers with some 80 stitches. Dube was back on the ice within 10 days. But the injury required more than physical healing. Dube and Davison required post-traumatic stress counseling, painfully reliving the accident.

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