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Teen saves coach's life

Quick action by Medford skating student Scott Linden has won him recognition from the U.S. Figure Skating Association

When Medford skating coach Marylill Elbe crashed to the pavement of the Bear Creek Greenway last summer, a routine training outing with students became a medical emergency.

Marylill really whacked her head, said Scott Linden, then 14, who had trained with her for about two years.

In fact, Elbe had fractured her skull and ruptured an artery, causing massive bleeding in and around her brain. Scott gathered the other students, called his dad, internist Dennis Linden, and headed for help.

Elbe credits Scott with saving her life and nominated him for a national sportsmanship award from the U.S. Figure Skating Association. The association will grant the award in May.

I appreciate his quick thinking and his taking responsibility in this, Elbe said. I'm very lucky.

— When she fell, Elbe had been racing along the trail on in-line skates with Scott, his 9-year-old sister, Alexa, and three other students July 6 in a regular cross-training session to prepare for figure skating competitions.

Scott didn't see his coach fall, but when he rounded a curve on the trail he saw rocks and dust spread across the pavement and Elbe lying on the ground.

When he asked if she was OK, her initial reply was just a slurred mumble. Within moments she could sit up and claimed she was fine, but Scott knew differently.

She just wasn't herself, he said. She was so confused.

Scott sent one of his fellow students to get others who had skated ahead. He and his sister tended scrapes on Elbe's knees, elbow, forehead and nose and started guiding her back down the path toward help.

Elbe was panting, sweating, dizzy and stumbling. Although she sometimes lapsed into silence, she also was increasingly belligerent about needing help, a result of her injury.

I knew I hit my head and had a scrape and a bump, but it didn't hurt, Elbe said. She still can't accurately recall much of what happened on the day of the accident.

With his cell phone, Scott called his father to have him meet the kids and their injured coach at the closest trailhead near McAndrews Road. Scott also called Elbe's husband, Steve, to alert him that his wife was hurt and was going to Dr. Linden's office near Rogue Valley Medical Center.

She was out of it, Steve Elbe said. She wanted to go home and get some rest, but there was just no way.

Linden warned that she likely had bleeding inside her skull and needed to go to the hospital. Steve Elbe whisked his wife to the emergency room. A CT scan revealed the extent of her injuries.

The doctor left the room on a run, she said.

Then I knew things were worse than I thought, Steve Elbe said.

A neurosurgeon told them the injury could have been fatal without prompt treatment.

Elbe was rushed to surgery, then spent a week in intensive care and several more days in a regular hospital room.

It was pretty harrowing the first several days, Steve Elbe said. When she came out of the operation she was like a 2-year-old just learning to talk.

Within days the stubborn childishness left and progress has been steady since then, he said.

In August, she underwent surgery to remove pins and wires that had been implanted in her elbow after an injury years ago that was aggravated by her recent fall. Then in September, she had knee surgery to repair damage that had gone unnoticed until she was back on her feet.

Marylill Elbe has done lots of physical therapy, and is still undergoing balance therapy to deal with dizziness. She also kept up a steady regimen of walking along with her husband, an avid golfer, and continued to work out at the gym. She returned to skating Nov. — ' in four months, not six months, like doctors originally predicted, she said.

She must wear a helmet while on the ice, gear she didn't have on when she fell this summer.

I was the only one without a helmet that day, she said. I recommend the kids wear them and now they know why.

While she recovered, her students worked with other teachers, but now she hopes to rebuild a group of clients. She teaches learn-to-skate lessons at The RRRink in Medford alongside Scott and Alexa, who are apprentice coaches with the program.

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Marylill Elbe, right, credits Scott Linden, 15, for saving her life after a skating accident on the Bear Creek Greenway last summer. Scott is receiving a national award from the U.S. Figure Skating Association this spring. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven