When a Skateboarder Goes Splat From 45 Feet Up!

On August 12, 2007, USF Health’s Dr. Robert Pedowitz was interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times for coverage of the skateboard crash at the X Games. The August 2nd accident involving Jake Brown, of Australia, has garnered national media coverage. Brown fell from 45 feet in the air during the Skateboard “Big Air Final” at the X Games, held this year at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Click here to link directly to Dr. Pedowitz’s interview published in the St. Pete Times newspaper.

When a Skateboarder Goes Splat from 45 Feet Up!
By Mike Wilson
Published August 12, 2007 – St. Petersburg Times Newspaper

Check out Jake Brown’s epic crash at the X Games and you have to wonder: Why is he still alive? And what was that experience like? We called Dr. Robert Pedowitz, chairman of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at the University of South Florida, and asked him to explain what someone goes through, physiologically, immediately before and – ugh – during that kind of crash.

The crash: how the body reacts

When someone is in danger, Pedowitz says, the sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for whatever may happen next. Heart rate spikes. Blood pressure increases. Pupils dilate to sharpen vision. A burst of adrenaline boosts strength, which accounts for those grandma-lifts-car-off-kid stories.
Did all this happen to Brown when he lost his skateboard? Nah, Pedowitz says. He would have been amped up already.

Once Brown knew he was falling, he seemed to run through the air. Pedowitz says people windmill their arms during a fall to regain balance. A diver intentionally swings his arms to start his body spinning. This was the opposite.

The instant before Brown hit, he executed what Pedowitz called an “incredible maneuver,” rotating his body so he would land on his backside instead of his face. Still, the force of the impact transmitted a shock wave through his bones and organs. Inside Brown’s body, Pedowitz says, “everything was crashing into everything.” He survived because he’s a highly conditioned athlete and he knows how to fall, our expert says. So don’t try this at home or anywhere else.