Speedskater Theresa Cliff-Ryan Hit by Another Skater, Injured at Practice

Another skater crashed into her as she stood on the sidelines, flipping her in the air.

Speedskater Theresa Cliff-Ryan was standing on the sidelines Monday when she was hit by a skater going full speed and landed on her head.

The 35-year-old skater was placed on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to a hospital. She was conscious and talking to paramedics.

Cliff-Ryan had her back to the ice at the Utah Olympic Oval during off-day practice for the U.S. Olympic trials. She was talking to other skaters after her workout when she was hit by Kevin Geminder. He fell and smashed into Cliff-Ryan, flipping her in the air. Trainers raced to put a neck brace on her.

Geminder just missed hitting a metal bench. Four-time Olympic medalist Shani Davis was sitting nearby and saw Geminder starting to fall. Davis, who has already made the U.S. team for the Sochi Games, says he was lucky to get out of the way.

Geminder finished 28th in the 1,000 meters Sunday.

Cliff-Ryan, from Cedar Springs, Mich., and living in Philadelphia, was a contender in the 1,500, to be held Tuesday. She also was to compete in the 5,000 on Wednesday.

She just missed qualifying for the U.S. team in the 3,000 last Friday. She finished third in a personal-best time, but only the top two made the team.

Cliff-Ryan is a longtime inline skater who switched to cycling in an attempt to make the Summer Olympics. She almost qualified for the U.S. team in both 2008 and 2012 and then went back to skating - on blades instead of wheels - in a last-ditch attempt to make the Winter Games. After just 6 1/2 months on ice, she nearly pulled it off.

"It's disappointing," Cliff-Ryan said after the 3,000. "But I'm pretty proud of what I've done."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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