Chip Heuser lucky to be pole vaulting after serious accident

Discussion about ways to make the sport safer and discussion of past injuries so we can learn how to avoid them in the future.
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Chip Heuser lucky to be pole vaulting after serious accident

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Sun Feb 03, 2008 3:21 am

http://www.normantranscript.com/sports/ ... 05247.html

Published February 02, 2008 11:52 pm - Chip Heuser is a lucky man. And he knows it.
“I’ll probably never win at bingo again because I think I’ve used up all my luck,” he said.
This past Halloween, Heuser was going through a familiar drill, swinging on a rope at Oklahoma’s indoor track facility. The drill is designed to simulate pole vaulting without actually using the pole.
He swung on the rope, but went too far, clearing the padded area where he was supposed to land. Instead, he hit the floor, slamming his head when he landed. There should have been extra padding for safety reasons, but there was none on this day.

Back in the field


Scott Moore
The Norman Transcript

• OU pole


vaulter Heuser happy to be

jumping again after accident

Chip Heuser is a lucky man. And he knows it.

“I’ll probably never win at bingo again because I think I’ve used up all my luck,” he said.

This past Halloween, Heuser was going through a familiar drill, swinging on a rope at Oklahoma’s indoor track facility. The drill is designed to simulate pole vaulting without actually using the pole.

He swung on the rope, but went too far, clearing the padded area where he was supposed to land. Instead, he hit the floor, slamming his head when he landed. There should have been extra padding for safety reasons, but there was none on this day.

“It’s nobody’s fault, just forgetfulness,” Heuser said. “To tell you the truth, I don’t really remember what went on after I hit. It almost ended my life.”

He suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent seven days in the intensive care unit at Norman Regional Hospital. After that, he went back home to Louisville, Ken., to recuperate. While there, he suffered a seizure and spent three more days in the hospital.

“They darn near lost me a few times,” he said. “I don’t remember much about being in the hospital. People have always told me I’m hard-headed, so thank God for that.”

Luckily, both his parents are in the medical field. His father is a surgeon and his mother is a nurse and they explained to him what happened and the severity of his injuries.

The season had yet to begin, and Heuser was in the hospital. He was looking forward to contending for an NCAA championship after finishing fourth at last year’s indoor championships and third in the outdoor.

He missed the 2005 season because of an injury, but came back to finish fifth at the 2006 indoor championships and 10th at the outdoor. Indoor and outdoor competitions combined, Heuser is a four-time All-American.

Then the sport he loved nearly killed him.

“I’m happy to be jumping again because they weren’t going to let me,” Heuser said. “If I suffer any type of bump on my head it could kill me.”

That’s why he has to wear a helmet from now on. The university didn’t want to be liable if he was injured again, so he had to sign a waiver.


He actually made a fast recovery and returned to action last Saturday at the Razorback Invitational at Fayetteville, Ark. He finished fourth, clearing 16-feet, 6-inches. His personal best is 18-5.

“It was kind of scary,” Heuser said. “I was running from the shortest approach than any other guy out there. I had no expectations.”

Saturday he competed at the J. D. Martin Invitational, hosted by the University of Oklahoma, and finished first, clearing 16-10. This past week, he said he’d had a breakthrough.

“It’s like I remembered how to pole vault again,” he said. “This meet, I just want to perform well and let the heights come to me. I just want to come down the runway and complete a good vault.”

He said he’s actually jumping better than he did last year. He’s stronger and faster. He’s basically just waiting for everything to come back together.

As for goals, they haven’t changed. He still wants to win a title, both Big 12 and national. But if that doesn’t happen, it won’t be the end of the world, especially since his nearly did.

“A lot of people asked me why I came back, but pole vaulting is something that I love to do,” said Heuser, who is a zoology major. “I want to get to the Big 12 (championships) and perform well and then get to the nationals and be a contender.”

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Unread postby patybobady » Mon Feb 04, 2008 8:59 pm

Wow, what a story...That's incredible Chip's jumping again, and well too!

Amazing...
Fight the good fight: It's nice to be great but it's far greater to be nice.

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Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:27 am

http://newsok.com/the-qa-chip-heuser-ok ... 1209185590

The Q&A: Chip Heuser: Oklahoma pole vaulter back after 16-foot fall
Related Information


OU pole vaulter Chip Heuser wears a helmet for protection. Photo provided


By Jenni Carlson
Vaulting to extreme heights means having long falls, and Chip Heuser had a fall go terribly wrong in practice six months ago. It nearly killed the Oklahoma pole vaulter. This spring, though, he is back vaulting.

Jenni Carlson: I always knew pole vaulters were a little crazy, but when I heard about your injury, that crystallized it for me.

Chip Heuser: Funny thing about it, it was actually Halloween.

JC: No trick, no treat.

CH: Definitely not. I tricked myself into this one. We were doing a drill. It was a drill simulating the vault in the air called rope vaulting. The set-up we have requires an extra mat behind the pit itself just in case you carry too much momentum and overshoot the pit.

So, of course, you probably know what I did. Forgot the mat. Overshot the pit. Landed from about 16 feet in the air directly on my skull. Fractured my occipital bone, had a contrecoup injury, damage to my poles. Was in the ICU about seven days, was released, then had a seizure and was put back in the ICU for another three days.

JC: Oh, geez.

CH: I had some hemorrhaging ... but luckily, they didn't have to operate. If they would've operated, I would not be vaulting. I'm forced to wear a helmet now when I jump, but it doesn't keep me from wanting to jump again.

JC: You spout all those injuries off like you've heard the terminology a bunch.

CH: Well, I'm pre-med and my father's a surgeon. But I had to learn a lot about my injury. I wanted to know what was going on inside my head.

JC: So, were you working with other guys the day of the injury or solo or what?

CH: I was showing the freshmen how to do the drill. Being a senior, I've done it many times before. Just bad timing on my part, I guess.

JC: For you, then, this was just a normal day.

CH: We do crazy, crazy drills. You always come up with schemes to try to better yourself technically.

JC: What does that particular drill work on?

CH: Technique in the air. How you go up the pole and release, go over the bar, that kind of thing.

JC: Falling from 16 feet, that's a long time to drop. Did you realize what was happening?

CH: Whenever I actually pole vault — run down the runway, plant the pole, swing up — I can always tell when I'm not going to land correctly. In this instance, I don't remember much. I remember letting go of the rope, and that's about it. I woke up about seven days later.

JC: After you were released from the hospital, you had a seizure?

CH: I was in the ICU seven days, released, then the next morning after the release, I suffered the seizure and went right back in the hospital. It was bad.

JC: It's a miracle you're here.

CH: They lost me once right after the initial impact. Then they lost me twice after the seizure in the ambulance.

JC: You essentially died three times. How do you even process something like that?

CH: The funny thing about it is I don't recall much. To me, it's not really ...

JC: Didn't really happen to you?

CH: It hit me three months post injury, right before I came back to school after Christmas break. I had a little bit of a come-to-Jesus moment, I guess, with my parents. They were with me the whole time. They came down from Kentucky. My mom, my poor mother, she was with me the whole time and saw the seizure.

JC: At what point, then, does continuing to pole vault seem like a good idea?

CH: First thing I said when I came to — which I don't remember saying — is, ‘Can I still pole vault?'

JC: Are you kidding?

CH: It's like the old saying, once you fall off the horse, you get right back on. Literally, I fell.

JC: That's quite a horse to fall off, though.

CH: It happens.

JC: Do you approach the sport different now?

CH: It's kind of a tough situation for me right now. I was fairly good at what I did before the injury, and now, it's taking some time to get back. I'm nowhere near my personal record, and my competition skills mentally are not just rusty but I would say non-existent. Hopefully, it'll come. If not, everybody finds another path in life. Maybe I'll find mine through this incident.

JC: I don't think anyone would've expected you to come back exactly like you were before.

CH: You can't. I'm just happy to be alive and back jumping doing what I love.

JC: Considering everything that's happened, how do you measure success now?

CH: I used to measure everything on my achievements. I have all these All-Americans. I've never won a Big 12 championship, and I always wanted to do that. But now after all this has happened ... it's kind of made me decide if I go to a track meet and I feel like I've vaulted to the best of my ability, not looking at the heights but just feel good about the way I jumped and the way I competed, it's a success. Hopefully, if I just stick with that mentality, things will turn around for the better.

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chip

Unread postby kev44000 » Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:07 am

For anyone that does not know Chip, he is a wonderfull person, polite, very humble as well as a great vaulter. If you have a chance meet him do so , he has gotten a second chance at life and vaulting as well.


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