Mar 26 2012

Well, That Wasn’t Supposed to Happen

My season took an unexpected turn yesterday at NASTAR Nationals when I hurt my knee on the final run of the weekend. Starting dead last after being the top qualifier, I hit a cross rut on a left foot fallaway entering the turn that sent me a little back and directly into a large hole at the bottom of the next gate. It was about 1:30 in the afternoon when I ran and the warm weather played a big role in the deteriorating conditions; the course had changed quite a bit from inspection at 9 that morning. While airborn I saw the big hole and tried to avoid it. My inside ski landed first, but directly in the hole. It twisted, I felt things shift, and immediately pulled off course. I didn’t even crash, but I knew that something was wrong. Knee injuries usually happen to the outside leg, and are frequently accompanied with dramatic explosion-like crashes. This had neither. Throw in the fact that I was at NASTAR Nationals and you have the perfect combination of a very unlikely and horrible experience.

I slid down the side of the hill, possibly swore at the ski patrol who asked me to sit on her toboggan as a way of getting down, got help from my old college competitor and Swix rep Andrew Wagner packing my car and getting out of my room, and headed straight for the Vail Valley Clinic. As this isn’t my first encounter with injury, I already had Dr. Millett’s email and cell phone number on hand. He directed me to a fellow who saw me last night and helped set up an MRI for this morning. I met with Dr. Millett this morning and he informed me that I have a ruptured ACL, meniscal damage, and a fracture to my tibia. This was much worse than I had anticipated, and pretty much took my breath away. On top of that, because I have had that ACL repaired before I am going to need two surgeries: one to remove the old screws and ligament and do a bone graph, and another in a couple of months for the ACL replacement. There is some hope that he can insert screws for the new ACL in other places and combine the process into one surgery, but it is unlikely (I’m pressing hard for this). I told him that I was obviously very bummed about the news but wanted to get surgery/start the healing process right away. He told me that I could go under the knife today at 2pm…well then, here we go.

An ending like this to my most successful season to date has been pretty upsetting and totally not what I pictured. In total irony, I got an email while in the waiting room that SkiRacing had published a Q&A I did a week ago with one of their writers, during which I attribute much of this season’s success to staying injury free….too soon? On the plus side I had never seen the photo they used in the article before, and it made me feel a little better seeing myself back on skis (my knee looks so stable!). I haven’t really been able to wrap my head around what the hell happened yesterday, I feel like it was a real one-in-a-million type situation, but the only thing I can do is look forward and hope to heal up as fast as possible.

Finally, I need a way to get the bad taste of this what happened yesterday out of my mouth, because other than my knee injury the weekend was a total blast. I am very impressed by the enthusiasm of ski racing on the NASTAR level, and even though it basically kicked my ass (as opposed to the World Cups, ECups, NorAms, or whatever else I raced this season) it was an opportunity that I am glad I went after. Below are some shots from the weekend, hopefully they will illustrate what I mean when I say that the passion for ski racing was in full force. Hoping for a fast surgery and a good report from the doc on the other end!

Early morning at the bottom of the race hill, bring on the crowds!

Any time I can get a picture of Hulk Hogan at a ski race with his kids I take it! Super nice family.

Race day morning smoothie made by super hunk Steven Nyman: 4 raw eggs, almonds, spinach, feta Greek yogurt, nano green, apple juice, mixed berries, Nature Valley Granola bars (not pictured)

Awards at NASTAR Nationals...slight bigger than a FIS race

The winner of the male 90-94 years old category. Apparently they have to keep making new age categories for him!

Podium for qualifiers, with Robby Zehner (left) and Mark Dunsworth (right)

Meeting a fan and fellow racer!

Had to grab a shot of this, best shirt of the weekend

4 responses so far