The Worst Ice Skating Injuries

The worst Ice skating injuries happen to both figure and hockey skaters. Ice skating can be dangerous if you don’t pay attention to the risk associated with it. It is important to stay safe, informed and be cautious. After all, ice skating is not only for winter Olympic professionals but also for people of all abilities and ages. It is a popular wintertime activity. Either you’re performing figure-eights in your community skating rink or enjoying a casual game of hockey, there are always some present and problematic risks. Particularly applicable to casual ice skaters who lack the requisite knowledge and training of the professionals. Basic training requires familiarity with various ice skating injuries and safety measures to reduce the risk of these accidents.

Key Skating Injury Risks

Sprains & Fractures

Almost all fractures during ice skating happen in the upper extremity, such as the wrist. Radial head and neck fractures also occur when players fall on an outstretched hand. Stress can also cause ankle skating injuries including damage to the tibialis and peroneal anterior muscles. Most fractures can be treated by emphasizing movement to prevent stiffness. Surgery may be required if the multiple fragments have to be removed from the fracture.


Head trauma accounts for only 0.5% of ice skating injuries. However, the rate increases significantly among people who play ice hockey. When a loss of control or balance occurs, head injuries can have a common and serious effect. The ice surface can be quite dangerous because it does not provide any cushion against impact. Such skating injuries may result in concussions or any other traumatic brain injuries. Concussions have a varying degree of severity; from slightly noticeable to fully unconscious.

Hand and Wrist Injuries

In the event of a slip or fall, our first instinct is to stretch our hands to catch ourselves–which is good reflex, as it protects the more important face and head. But it may also result in hand or wrist injury from the force of the impact.

Key Skating Injury Safety Tips

Use High Quality Equipment

Appropriate gear is crucial for problem-free skating. Ill-fitted gears come in forms of wheels that don’t roll, shoes that hurt, trucks that don’t turn, and a few other mishaps. Inappropriate equipment results in several orthopedic skating injuries that may include helmets, padding, and–of course–quality skates. We have included top-rated consumer reviewed skating boots from Amazon, not high profile expensive ones I might add.

Warm Up For Each Session

The first rule of skating is that your body must cooperate with you. This is what warming up achieves. Cold muscles and ligaments are more brittle and susceptible to tears and injury. They also make you error-prone as familiar tricks become more difficult to practice. By warming up, you loosen your tendons, ligaments and muscles, thereby helping to prevent tears.

Be Conscious of your Environment

You need to be aware of your surroundings when skating, especially if you’re on the street, road or in skate parks. You need to be aware in order to avoid crashing into other skaters, scooters, or bikers around.

Real Life Ice Skating Injuries

The elegance and grace of ice skaters can be quite impressive. One of the defining characteristics of the game is how easy it looks. But what if things don’t work out so well? What if a slight wobble, a toe edge caught in the ice and a millisecond of mistiming costs the athlete their win or glory? It happens. And it is worth studying. 

Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin

2004 – Skate America

Tatiana and Maxim were skating royalty and won the Gold Medal in Turin in 2006. However, their journey to success was not smooth. In Pittsburgh, on 23 October 2004, during the free skate at the 2004 Skate America, Marinin lost his balance while performing an Axel lasso lift, dropping Totmianina onto the ice, head first. She had a concussion and was in a hospital the entire night. Maxim was severely affected by the accident as he had to see a sport psychologist before he could lift Tatiana again.

Nancy Kerrigan

1994 – Norway Winter Olympics

During one of the most iconic events in Olympics history, Tanya Harding revealed what happens when jealousy, mixed with intense competition and sheer pettiness is unbridled to the world. She literally went full-on crazy and hired somebody to bash in her rival and fellow U.S. figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan’s knee. This move prevented the latter from competing at the Olympics and winning what would’ve been a U.S. figure skating gold. A newscaster caught the moments building up to the attack. The poor quality and up-closeness of it all really made the incident feel even more real and terrifying. It was certainly a low point in the history of sportsmanship.

Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison

2007 – Four Continents Championship

Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison were the sweethearts of Canadian figure skating at a time. However, things went sour on February 8, 2007. While performing a side-by-side camel spin, the blade of Davidson’s skate stuck Dubé in the face. She fell on the ground immediately, with blood pouring onto the ice. The officials took her to the hospital where she got 83 stitches to repair the ice skating injury cut on her face. 

Olga Prokurnova & Karel Štefl

2006 – European Championships

This Russian-Czech partnership began quite well. But it took the fall in 2006 — literally. Prokurnova fell from a lift and hit her head on the ice while competing in Lyon. The pair had to withdraw from the event. It was a frightening moment for the skating world, even though she didn’t suffer any serious injury. Later that year, she declined to resume the partnership.

Zhang Dan & Zhang Hao

2006 – Turin Olympics

This Chinese pair were serious gold medal contenders when they went into the Olympics. They tried a jump which had never been landed in competition — a throw quadruple salchow — wherein the male skater throws his partner in the air and she does four rotations before landing. But it didn’t work well for them as Zhang Dan fell in a painful split on the ice. However, they continued with the routine. 

Michelle Kwan

2002 – Salt Lake Olympics

Although this was a minor fall, it had a severe emotional impact on the whole nation. Michelle Kwan had been the queen of American figure skating for years. She had won the American Championships 9 times and the World Championship 5 times – a record. 2002 was her chance to claim the greatest prize of all on American soil. By slightly leaning too far forward on a triple axel, she lost that chance.

Ice Skating Protective Gear and First Aid

As a rule, all physical activities involving skateboards require some preventive measures – do you know they are in the 2020 Olympics for the 1st time. It’s the basic action that can prevent injuries from occurring in the first place. The most fundamental protection has to do with protective gear. It ranges from helmets to the knee, buttock, hip and elbow pads. It is crucial to wear the right gear for the right activity.

Even while practicing, endeavor to wear your full safety gear. Medical experts have said that 60% of all sports related injuries happen during practice, not during a game. If you’re a parent or guardian, it can be difficult to get your child to wear a helmet or some other protective equipment. The first thing to do is to ensure you’re wearing one yourself. It motivates the child to follow your lead. 

We have provided a link to stong ice skating/skateboarding protection for Buttocks, & knee and wrist pads. The buttocks (padded shorts) would give ultimate protection across multiple sports.

Injuries happen in ice skating. And when they do, the most important thing is the first aid treatment. Parents and coaches have to be proactive and not only reactive when it comes to sports injuries like falling. Facility owners/management, as well as sporting organisations, have responsibilities for every practice and game. Usually, in the case of injuries during a sporting event, the responsibility for treatment falls to the sponsoring organization hosting or managing the event.

As a trainer, you need to have your own equipment and supplies, especially if you’re traveling to an unfamiliar location. You must never bank on the uncertainty that your requirements would be available at the site. There are times when the First Aid room will be unstaffed and locked. Any delay in access to first aid can put the injured person in more distress.

There must always be a Sports First Responder at every event. They play a vital role in providing pre-hospital emergency care before an ambulance arrives.  Although ambulance services are usually engaged and stationed on site during actual competitions, that is rarely the case during regularly scheduled practices.

A certified first responder must have completed a course and obtained certification in providing pre-hospital care during medical emergencies. They are more skilled than a person trained in basic first aid but cannot serve as a substitute for advanced medical care provided by emergency physicians, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), nurses, or paramedics. First responders are generally trained in these areas; spinal and bone fracture immobilisation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillator usage, and advanced first aid.

How to prevent Ice Skating Injuries

Generally speaking, ice skating isn’t really a dangerous sport. Most times, the worst you would get is a few bruises and scratches, perhaps a cut or two in your hand (if you’re not careful when holding the blade in your hand). At higher levels, it’s possible to fall more, get a few more bruises, and maybe a wrist or an ankle. This is why Olympic skaters seem to get more serious injury than others, but it’s also a rare occurrence. Strength and body core training is prevention prior to any ice skating, read our article about specific yoga techniques here. However, on the ice, here are a few ways to avoid the worst ice skating injuries.

Choose figure skates over hockey skates

Figure skates come with a long, gently curving blade that allows the skater to easily glide over sweeping curves. Hockey skates are designed with a shorter, more steeply curving blade that allows the hockey player to quickly stop and turn. If you’re a casual or novice skater, figure skates allow more stability as it distributes your weight more evenly over a longer distance.

ice hockey player getting injured falling on ice

Lace up your skates tightly

Ice skates are made from a boot with a blade attached to the bottom. Both the hockey and figure skates are designed to enhance stability around the ankle. One important way to prevent an ice skating ankle injury is by ensuring your boots are tightly laced up – even tighter than you would tie your shoe.  If you’re unsure if the skates are tied tightly enough, you must be able to fit 2 fingers between your ankle and the tongue of the boot, no more.

Use the Toe Pick Right

That scraggly looking item at the front of your blade is not designed for stopping.  Toe picks exist for one purpose – jumping! It is the reason skater are able to propel themselves into the air.  If you attempt to use the toe pick push yourself forward or to stop, you will fall flat on your face. If you want to stop, firmly push your foot firmly on the ice and gently push the blade lengthwise out to the side.  Ensure you’re not skating at high speed when you want to stop. 

Worst ice skating injuries from stopping on toe pick

Fall correctly

Oh yes! There is a right and wrong way to fall in ice skating. Fortunately, it’s part of the most rudimentary things you’ll learn when you start. Falling the wrong way may lead to injuries of varying degrees of severity.   The worst that’ll happen if you fall right is that your friends would laugh at you, but your body will remain intact.

If you feel you are starting to fall, the best thing to do is to get ready for a proper fall. Try directing yourself to land on the side of your behind, where your glutes and other muscles will provide the most padding.  Keep your arms close to your body and avoid doing windmill gestures with your arms to try to maintain your balance (except to protect your head and face). Generally, you should practice how to fall on the floor before you get on the ice.

If you try to stop yourself from falling by your hands, it can injure your arms, wrists and shoulders. If too dangerous to avoid head injury with your hands, use your elbow bent. Remember the front of the elbow is the strongest bone on you. Oh! And never even skate with your hands in your pockets. Not even when you’re stopping.


Every sporting activity has it’s related injury. With proper care, safety precautions and preventive measures, you can avoid injuries or at worst, ensure they are minor. You must not allow the fear of an injury stop you from enjoying a good game. Fortunately, the worst ice skating injuries are commonly of the minor sort. Study those who have been injured and how to avoid experiencing the same pitfalls. Many young figure skaters pushed into aggressive training programs may get injured, read our article on Russian Figure skaters for some insight on this industry initiative to create young stars of the ice.