We’re getting used to extreme sports people dropping in to Harris & Ross to get fixed. But this was a first for all of us.
Frederic “Fred” Fugen is a base jumper. A pioneer of parachuting and hugely respected around the world.
With World and European Records tumbling almost as quickly as he does, he came to us with a challenge.
He was planning to jump off the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It was top secret, but he had a problem. He’d injured his elbow in a training accident in a wind tunnel and needed to get fit enough to jump off the 828m building in just a few weeks.
That’s when he flew to Harris & Ross for some serious rehabilitation.
“Fred suffered a posterior elbow dislocation,” explained Harris & Ross physio, Pete Talbot.
“His x-ray and CT scan showed no bony changes but when Fred came to us he had lost 50 degrees of elbow flexion and 40 degrees of extension.
“We treated Fred the same as any other athlete. Athletes always want to get back to their sports as soon as possible and its our job to help them do that.”
Of course with a base jumper, there were some unique exercises to make sure Fred’s arm would hold up, not least sending him to the Airkix indoor skydiving centre in Manchester.
“The training at Harris & Ross was great. Really good,” Fred said.
“It was complete, intense and just what I needed and the Airkix, that was a great idea. Special thanks to Darren [Roberts – Harris & Ross’ High Performance Manager] for coming up with that!! Even though it was a strange feeling to try the flying again in the tunnel after being hurt in one of these.”
The turnaround between attending our Wilmslow and Manchester clinics and heading out to Dubai was pretty tight, but Pete flew out with Fred to make sure everything went according to plan – at least when it came to the elbow.
“He came to us with 4 weeks to the jump and he needed time to train and practice the jump which couldn’t be done in the UK,” continued Pete.
As with all our professional athletes, there’s always that key moment, making the call as to whether they’re fit enough – and in this case, fit enough to do a World Record-breaking base jump…
“It added some pressure but made it more important I travelled with him to Switzerland and Dubai to continue his rehabilitation. [Pictures here].
“As always it’s never a one-person decision. It’s always a discussion between all the team (including the athlete) whether an athlete is ready to return.
“Fred’s training and rehab went really so we always knew his elbow would be ready. A lot of our job is to give him the confidence he will be good for the jump and for him and his sport confidence and preparation is key to a successful outcome.”
That’s a view echoed by Fred:
“It was amazing to have a physio with me, it helped me a lot, physically and then for sure mentally because I knew I could have someone to help me getting better everyday until the actual jump.
“I left the Harris & Ross clinic in Manchester because I had to go training from cliffs before the building jump and the recovery was not finished yet so it was mandatory to keep working on my arm so Icould get the best performance during the project. Thanks to Pete Talbot who did a very good job.”
The end result? Well you can watch the video here and see for yourself.
“This jump from Burj Khalifa has been for sure the craziest base jump we have ever done!! The place is so special, everything around it makes it amazing: the view, the lights, the filming, flying around a building is insane!!!!
“The feeling was amazing, first because it’s been a lot of work and time to get to stand there, and also because the way the platform was made, we could see through the metal pieces and it felt like we were standing in the middle of the sky!! And then when we looked at each other and we knew that we were going to jump, we were so ready to enjoy that. So much fun!!!”
And as for the elbow?
“The elbow was good, strong enough. I couldn’t stretch my arm completely but it was good enough to support the climbing from the ladders inside the pinnacle, the flying of the wingsuit, the opening and string of the parachute.”
Would you recommend Harris & Ross to other extreme athletes?
“Of course!!!! They’re a very professional team that can handle short time recovery program if needed, and very personalised. Very good.”