This winter was all about patience for me, but it’s already over. All that patience paid off, this was a much better experience than my first knee rehab/comeback. I took an extra 3 months of recovery time and extra training. In 2010-2011, I came back and skied the entire World Cup tour 9 months out of knee surgery. It was a season filled with mediocre results and I finished the season ranked 17th in the World. This season, I skipped 7 out of the 12 World Cup events. In the 5 events I skied, I got 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th, and 20th. Ironically, I finished 17th in the World but much happier with my skiing.
To finish off the season, we have National Championships. Lucky for me, it was held at my true home, Heavenly. This was the mountain I grew up skiing on. I’ve had a pass at this mountain every year since age 4. Coming back here for a high level competition was amazing. I haven’t competed here since I made the US Ski Team, and it was fun to be able to show the home crowd the improvements I’ve made in the past several years. It was awesome to be able to ski in front of my family and friends again. My knee surgeon and team of physical therapists from Barton Health were out in the crowd as well. Can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to ski at this level again! It was an overall awesome weekend in Tahoe, and I walked away with podiums in both events.
Now that the competition season is over, I’ve got some real life to look forward to. This week, I’ll be replacing the Audi that I totaled in February. I’ll also be signing a new lease in Park City. It’ll be my base for this offseason. I’m really looking forward to training this summer. It will be nice to be able to work on my skills and get stronger rather than learn how to walk again. When I’m healthy, I actually feel like I’m getting better and skiing and jumping. During rehab offseasons, I do get stronger because so much time is dedicated to regaining strength and balance, but doing stuff like trampoline, water ramping, or skiing is still too dangerous at that stage in rehab.
So I’ve been through one Olympic cycle with the Team, and I’ve realized that this is the year we finally get some recognition and media coverage. What 95% of outsiders don’t realize is that we actually compete in these “off-years”, and we don’t just train for one competition every 4 years. I’ve been asked this question so many times: “What are you going to do different now that it’s an Olympic year?”. For some reason, that question is so disrespectful to me. I know it may sound like a legit question, but I guess I don’t know how to answer it. What should I say? “Yeah, I’ve been half-assing the last 3 years and I’m really going to try to win this year.” Nothing will change. Every year, I’m trying to be the best skier on World Cup. Every offseason is just as intense. If anything, I probably worked harder last offseason than any other offseason. I was on crutches for 12 weeks, had to learn how to walk again, and had 10 months to get ready for top-level skiing. I don’t take any years, months, or days for granted. Don’t expect anything less than full effort, any year from me.
I’m really excited to be able to spend the full offseason and next season with the team. I only got 3 weeks of World Cup with my team this season, and I’ll be back with the program now that I’m at full strength. I have so much fun and have so much respect for my teammates, we have such a great dynamic right now. My body and mind are fresh and ready to get after it this offseason! ’til next time…