It has been almost 4 weeks since I crashed in Tignes, France for European X-Games, bringing an early end to my 2010-2011 season. I think I have been avoiding this post for quite sometime, not sure how to convey my thoughts and feelings without sounding like a cry baby or being overly redundant. None-the-less, this blog is for you the readers, but also for me, to clear my mind. Avoiding this post isn't allowing me to move on. Apparently now, I'm ready. Despite a "rough" beginning to my season, contest results were good but not great (though my skiing was feeling better than ever), I was keeping my head up. A rejuvenating trip to Japan seemed like doctor's orders and indeed provided me with a much needed perspective shift. My father had crossed his 100 day mark from his stem-cell transplant in November and was recovering well at home with my mom. My body was feeling good, and I had been able to spend time with my boyfriend doing what we do best: skiing. The snow conditions worked out miraculously well in Japan and we left the country days before the massive earthquake that sent the whole country into devastation. I was counting my blessings. I had realized that I needed to ski for myself, to focus on my strengths and forget about what others' expectations of me were. I was ready to return to the competition circuit for one final round, to end 2010-2011 on a positive note; and more than anything to have fun.
I arrived in Tignes full of hope and optimism, excited to be at an event that feels like summer camp. The majority of the athletes and industry guests stay in the same hotel, eat in the same restaurant, and lounge at the same bar, not to mention ski the same course! Day in and day out we are with our friends, reminded that we are all here to push the limits, push ourselves and push each other. The environment is phenomenal and much less stressful than Aspen X-Games. The pipe in Tignes was amazing- one of the best I've skied all year. I was confident my run would come together and didn't feel that I needed to rush anything. The first night of training I kept things mellow, I focused on grabbing my alley-oop 5 and keeping my amplitude up from top to bottom. The next night I was ready to dial things in.
After a few warm-up runs I went to do my first 900 of the trip. I over-rotated and ended up doing a 10. Well, I got that demon off my back. When I went back up to do another 900, I knew I needed to set less. Lift into the trick and set the rotation less hard. Somehow I lifted (I went about 10-12' out) but missed my pop. I hit the deck and then cartwheeled into the flat bottom. I can remember seeing the ground coming towards me as I was coming out of the cartwheel, but there was no time to react or adjust. I tried to stretch to slow down my flipping and to attempt to land on my feet, but the best I could do was slam down on my side. I hit my head, despite having my right arm up to protect it. I knocked myself out, dislocated my shoulder, sprained my MCL and sprained my ankle. Laying on the ground, in the middle of the pipe, I remember briefly trying to sit up, but failing, trying to move my right arm, but to no avail. I was scared. I kept reminding myself of the pain that my father has had to endure- the discomfort, the blind faith that he needed to keep himself going. So I found that blind faith myself. I knew there were people coming to help me and they would move as quickly as they could. There was no need to panic, whatever pain I was experiencing was only temporary. But judging by the number of people that sped down to me, I knew my crash was bad, and I was uncertain at that point how bad the damage was. (Click here to watch the crash: Euro-X Crash 2011)
After about an hour I arrived to a small hospital in Tignes. I know that I went in an ambulance and I remember that Elana was in the cab while I rode in the back, but I have no visual memories of it. I think my eyes were closed. As I was being wheeled into the hospital, the ceiling began to feel like the floor and I actually laughed to myself knowing that it couldn't be- but the morphine was having it's way with me. After the first X-Ray they could see no threatening fractures. The nurse pointed to a blanket on the ground and had me lay down. The doctor came over and with encouragement from the nursing staff to "relax" the doctor managed to get my shoulder back in place with great ease. It was the best feeling in the world. I thanked him profusely.
Typically after a season ender like this, I cry, generally not from physical pain, but from frustration and disappointment. But for some reason this time, I didn't cry much. I think I was in shock, disbelief, that after all of my refocusing, this was how my season was going to end. But such is life. We are given obstacles to overcome, and in doing so we grow as human beings. There are always lessons to be learned from these situations. You always gain insight into another piece of yourself. I don't know what those lessons are yet, I don't know what insights I'll gain, but I have faith. I have to have faith, that this happened purely to make me stronger.
Perhaps this is an opportunity to do exactly what it said in my horoscope (see pics below). "Don't look at the negatives in your life- look at what's right. Be optimistic in your career but stay within sight of reality. When you push the envelope it can leave you stressed and exhausted." Maybe this will be the time that I actually learn the hardest lesson of them all- knowing when to take a break, knowing when I've had too much, and resting before it's too late. Life is short and we often rush through it. We push past our accomplishments, cross them off the "to-do-list", and move on to the next bigger and better thing. Savor what's good, be grateful for what's right. Always look ahead, but don't forget where you came from. Just because what you've accomplished is done, doesn't mean that what you've accomplished is gone.
P.S- My shoulder, knee, ankle and head (physically and mentally) are all doing much better. I only ended up with a slight tear to the gleno-humeral ligament in my shoulder, which can heal without surgery. I've been on the slow train with rehab, but hopefully at the 4 week mark from the accident (this Tuesday) I'll be able to take things up a notch. Sadly, there will be no more skiing for me this winter, but I am looking forward to skiing this summer, having fun on some slush jumps, skiing for me, savoring every moment, and coming back next winter with vengeance.