Serita Shone wins crash case against British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association

Serita Shone
Serita Shone retired in 2014

The British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association is "extremely disappointed" to be found responsible for the crash in which Serita Shone fractured her spine in 2011.

Shone, then 22, fractured two vertebrae in a 70mph bobsleigh crash on her first training camp in Winterberg, Germany.

She returned 18 months later and won bronze at the British Championships in 2013, but retired the following year.

"They didn't put my safety first," said former heptathlete Shone.

"The findings that the BBSA were responsible for my injuries confirm what I have believed all this time."

Shone was the brakewoman in the sled being piloted by Fiona Harrison, who never drove a bobsleigh for the British team again after the incident.

Harrison lost control on a fast corner and their sled overturned. Shone was thrown out, hit the ice on her back and was then trapped under the sled.

In her claim against the BBSA, Shone stated that coaches did not listen to concerns she raised before the run and said the governing body did not take adequate safety measures at the time of the incident.

She told the court she had not been allowed to adapt the sled with handles, foot pegs and padding, as was common practice.

"They used me for what I believe to be 'cannon fodder' and sent me down the ice track, unprepared and in an unsafe condition," she said.

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Shone returns after spine fracture

The BBSA, which contested the claim and has been ordered to pay damages and legal costs, responded by saying: "Bobsleigh is one of the most dangerous Olympic winter sports and there are significant rules and regulations to ensure athlete safety at all times.

"The BBSA and its coaches acted in accordance with international rules and regulations at the time of the accident in October 2011.

"The safety of those athletes taking part is of paramount importance and, as a consequence, we continually review our practices and procedures to ensure the safety of all athletes and staff."

Shone was looking to switch to piloting in 2014 and finished first and second in two selection events, but was overlooked for a place in the GB squad.

She stated at the time that "political" reasons may have been behind her non-selection at the time.

"I was a committed and talented young athlete, who was aspiring to impress the team and ultimately qualify for the Olympics," she said.

"I worked tirelessly after my physical injuries to get back full-time into the elite squad, but the damage was already done and will last my lifetime.

"This result is not only a victory for me but also for all the young athletes out there who are tempted into the sport. They will now, hopefully, have protection because of this court finding. Safety should always come before results."

It is the latest controversy to hit the bobsleigh team which last summer saw the organisation face accusations of a 'toxic atmosphere', while a coach was also accused of making a racist comment.

The organisation was also widely criticised for removing funding for the women's bobsleigh team before the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after an overspend.

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