“It’s all a part of the sport” I keep telling myself as I injure myself for the second time this season. In ski racing, we train our butt’s off 24/7 to be as successful as possible in upcoming races. We put in so much dedication but we still have to take massive chances in order to get the results we want. Sometimes taking these chances means we finally get the result we’ve been working so hard for, but other times not so much…
Ski racing is a tough sport
About 8 weeks ago I had the first tough crash of my “ski racing career”. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, because just like any other alpine sport, falling can be quite common. Little did I know, this was going to put me out for 6 weeks. I was extremely lucky to walk away with just a bone bruise and a few loose ligaments but 6 weeks still felt like a long time. I was also very lucky to have a simple recovery process with physical therapy twice a week. I also still had the ability to work which gave me something to do with all the downtime.
During my recovery, all sorts of things went through my head – Will I be afraid to race as fast/hard as I have in the past? Will I fear injury when I get back out on the hill? Will my technique suffer? Will I still be as fast as I used to be? But I knew that worrying about things like that would only make it worse, so I chose to focus on working on coming back stronger than ever.
Returning to snow
Getting back on snow once the recovery finally ended felt incredible, I knew the crash put me back but I was excited to get back into it and finish off the season with a fresh start. Apart from being in quite a bit of pain for the first 2 weeks on snow post-injury, my training felt good, and it didn’t really feel like there was too much of a negative impact on my technique.
The first race I was able to compete in was a SG race here in Mammoth. The first day went really well, my skiing wasn’t perfect but I was happy with the result and looking forward to the next few days. Day 2 definitely had a few more bumps in the road compared to the first day. We had run into some really bad weather with thick fog and questionable snow conditions. Nevertheless with a few hours on hold we managed to pull it off.
Skiing down the first part of the course honestly felt great, probably the best I had felt all season. It wasn’t until the third to last gate really threw me for a loop. As I was starting the turn I hit a bump, lost my ski and went flying into the netting. For lack of better words, it sucked. That netting really isn’t as friendly as it seems. Losing my skis, poles, gloves, and helmet, I didn’t need to understand what happened to know it was bad. My speed suit and leggings were ripped in 2 places, I could see blood in the snow and could feel pain creeping into my left knee once again. The crash was bad, definitely the worst in my life of ski racing, but luckily I was able to ski down on one ski (my other one ended in the finish) and into patrol where they advised me to go to the hospital for some x-rays.
As we went to the ER the adrenaline started to wear off, and the more I could really feel the impact and pain all over. Once in the ER I asked for x-rays on only my hand because that was what really hurt. The x-rays ended up showing that I had a pretty decent break in my right hand. As much as I was really sore all over and knew there was still something up with my knee, I felt ok enough to hobble my way home for the start of another recovery process.
This all happened 3 weeks ago, and after all of that I needed surgery on my hand and I’m still awaiting results for an MRI on my knee. Even with this being not too long ago, I can look back on this season and truly have so much respect for the sport and all who take part in it. Ski racing is tough for everyone, coaches, family, friends, but most of all the athletes.
Focus on the positive
It’s unfortunate that seasons like this happen to so many other athletes, but all I can say is if something like this happens to you, in any sport… It’s going to be ok! Is this awful, and is the process of getting back into the sport that led you here going to be painful and long? Absolutely, but once you’re there it’s going to feel so worth it. The past is the past, there is nothing we can do to change it, let’s focus on the future and how we can be the best versions of ourselves in that time.
This season has been hectic but I am so fortunate to have a strong support group. I want to thank my family, friends, and coaches for their continuous love and support through everything.