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6/15/2011 10:23:21 AM - Steve Pulcinella
Newport Oregon Highland Games/Tragic Injury

My vacation/competition trip to the Newport Oregon Highland Games started out great. My wife and I had an uneventful flight and arrived at my in-laws house in Washington. We stayed there visiting my wife’s family for two days where my mother in law proceeded to feed me like a prize pig . . . which I love. If you ever have a chance to have a woman who lived on a farm with seven kids to feed cook for you I highly advise taking advantage of that.

After two days of forced feeding we packed up and made a beautiful five hour drive down to the Oregon coast. The first thing that struck me was how different the beaches there are compared to Jersey. The beach in Oregon doesn’t smell like fish heads and clam shells like it does in Jersey, it actually smells nice. The sponsors put Amy Wattles and I up in a beautiful hotel overlooking the Pacific, I could have sat out on that balcony all day watching the waves and smoking cigars.

On Sunday Amy and I took the field to display our athletic prowess and to represent EFS. Although highland games are not Amy’s primary sport she was doing quite well. Some last minute advice on the caber that I gave her didn’t quite work out so well but I’m sure she’ll tell that story. I was having a great day, I was throwing very relaxed and felt good physically all day. I had no misses in the sheaf or the 42lb weight for height and won every single event. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I was looking forward to this big challenge caber that was at the end of the day and then enjoying the rest of my vacation. But that was not to be.

The challenge caber was a 140lb beast, it was raining and the caber was heavily shellacked and slippery. On a dry day I would say I could turn it but the rain really was going to make it tough. On my first pick I was trying to get a handle on it and it just slid right out of my hands for a miss. I wanted to get another good shot at it and call it a day. I picked it and had a solid handle on it this time. I started my run down the field and just as I stopped to pull I was down. For a split second I thought I slipped but then I realized that my knee was bent and wouldn’t straighten, then another split second later the excruciating pain showed up. I grabbed my knee and was screaming in agony rolling around on the field. People all ran up to help me and looked on in horror as I pulled my knee sleeve down. There were parts of my knee and other bones sticking out in places where they shouldn’t have been. As the commotion swirled around me I thought maybe it was dislocated so I bit the bullet and straightened it. That without a doubt was the single most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life and it didn’t help. It wasn’t dislocated, it was just severely F’ed up. All that kept running through my mind was that I was 3000 miles from home. I had a six hour car ride and a five hour flight to take somehow. The ambulance showed up and carted me off the field to the hospital were they administered some pain meds and took an x-ray. The x-ray showed the knee cap out of place and in several pieces. That’s all I know so far until I get the MRI tomorrow and see my surgeon. So I’ll keep you posted on that in future articles.

So there it is, a fitting ending to a career in Highland Games and strength athletics for me. I went out in a blaze of glory and victory and also with a bang. I’m most definitely retired from competition now but look forward to getting back to training.

Me and Amy Wattles- Team EFS in da house,

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