My article below appeared in the March issue of Hill Country Happenings.. Click here for more articles and information about happenings in the Texas Hill Country.
Last month Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn wiped out at the world championships in Schladming, Austria. She is currently in rehabilitation following surgery on her anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments. Is her career over? She doesn’t seem to think so and has vowed to be back for next year’s Winter Games in Sochi. Watching her fall triggered two memories of bad falls I had while skiing.
The first tumble was in the early eighties at Deer Valley, Utah. How fast was I skiing? Well, I wasn’t actually skiing, but I was on skis and was posing for a picture at the top of a run. I got kind of cutesy as I struck my pose and the next thing I knew I heard the slamming of skies and poles as I plummeted backwards down the slope. Moments later, which seemed more like an eternity, I found myself planted face- first into the snow and because my skies stayed on and my knees were buried, I couldn’t get up. I looked up and back for my at-the-time boyfriend and saw him skiing towards me. I held up my now mitten-less hand. After collecting my poles, he slid to a halt and started clicking away with the camera. I understand now why that association didn’t last!
The following day, I woke up with bruising all over and very sore. It was almost fun to watch my body as it went through an array of colors for the next two weeks. I say “almost” as the aching lasted that long also. One would think after that experience, I would take more care when on skis. Two years later, I found myself again on the slopes in Utah with an escapade which made the “photo fall’ seem like nothing.
This time I was skiing at Park West. After one of my runs, a man sharing the lift back up with me made the comment, “You sure ski well for a girl.” Wrong thing to say! The next run, feeling the need to impress even more, I put a little more pizzazz into my turns. Suddenly while in a turn, I felt an icy patch under my skis. Seconds later, my knee went one way; the rest of my body the other. Of course where I fell was not on the main drag so it took a while for the Ski Patrol to get there. As they loaded me on the toboggan, I kept asking how much the ride was going to cost. One of them said, “There’s no charge, but once you get to the bottom, things might get a little pricy.” He wasn’t kidding.
The toboggan ride was fun! They secured me so well that only my nose and mouth were exposed. The next few minutes were like being on a roller coaster blindfolded. I assured myself by thinking, “These guys are professionals and know what they’re doing.” Once safely at the bottom, First Aid found no break but since I couldn’t put weight on that leg, they strongly recommended seeing an orthopedic surgeon and released me on crutches. Someone took me back to the Radisson and then the fun began. I watched hopelessly as the hotel bellman repacked all my ski gear as well as intimate apparel and make-up before driving me to the airport. Then I got to experience what I had I witnessed of some of our passengers on Delta – I was a carry-on passenger! They strapped me in the wheelchair and rolled me back to my seat. Since the flight wasn’t full, the agent was able to block a row of seats. My parents met my flight; my Dad drove my car home and my Mom followed with me.
In less than twenty-four hours, I was under the care of Dr. Larry Likover who had come highly recommended. After a careful examination and more X-rays, I whispered, “Well?” He replied, “It’s not broken, but you might have been better off if it had. You have ligament and cartilage damage.” Fortunately, it was my left knee so I could drive, but Delta did frown on working flights on crutches so I was grounded for several months. Being on the supports was not as fun as it looked and I garnered respect and empathy for those in the same situation. My greatest challenge during rehab was passing through revolving doors, going up sidewalk curbs and not getting sore under my armpits. I appreciated the saying, “No pain, no gain.”
Will Lindsey Vonn be back on skis next year? You bet she will! I should know — I was too!