Returning to Skiing [After ACL Surgery]

Hello!

Before I get onto the topic of skiing- I just wanted to put a reminder out there that tickets for this year’s Blend Retreat are currently on sale! We currently have quite a few tickets left, but that might not last for long. We are very limited in our overall capacity this year due to a smaller amount of lodging available (unlike the last two years). So, if you’re thinking of coming- go get your ticket now!

I am really excited about this year’s retreat because we have some fantastic sponsors lined up- and many of them are based in Colorado! We only have a few announced on the website so far (we are waiting for several contracts to come back), but you can take a peek at who has signed on so far here.

Blend

If you have wanted to visit Colorado or are just looking for a great girls’ weekend, Blend is a great opportunity for that! The tickets and lodging are extremely reasonable in price and you get a lot in return. And if you have any questions- feel free to ask me!

Moving on to skiing… This is going to be long and ramble-y at times, but I need to put these thoughts into writing. My hope is that I can look back on this in a few months and laugh. :)

If you’re been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’re probably well aware already that I tore my ACL and meniscus last April while skiing in Vail. I wasn’t doing anything dare-devilish or crazy- I was just simply not paying attention to what I was doing. Prior to tearing my ACL skiing was something that I had grown to enjoy. I wouldn’t say that I ever loved it- but I definitely liked it. I had gone from not knowing anything about skiing to being able to comfortably ski down blue runs within two months of my first lesson. Most importantly, I was able to share my husband’s life-long passion for the sport (and he is obsessed with it!).

I remember talking to my surgeon during my first or second visit to his office. When we were scheduling my surgery and choosing a date I asked him, “how soon can I schedule surgery so that I can be back out on the slopes next season?” He told me that I’d need to wait at least six months after surgery to ski again and ended up giving me a “release date” of Dec. 25th. At that time, I was just bummed that I was missing out on the rest of last season and confident that I’d be good to go again in the winter. I also had NO idea what I was in store for- or just how serious (and long) recovery was going to be.

drugged_up

Recovery sucked. I had to miss out on lots of fun activities over the summer (which is my favorite season of all) and was sad and jealous to hear about all of my friends going hiking, mountain biking and doing other things that require healthy knees. I got very bitter about skiing- like it had taken away my ability to do anything that I loved outdoors and just wasn’t worth it. Even on my best ski day, I would never trade it for a great day of hiking.

As time went on and the seasons changed, I became more dreadful of the impending winter. Greg was trying to hype me up for skiing again and saying that I’d get right back into it and be fine. I wasn’t convinced. Actually, I was certain that I had forgotten how to ski, period and would be starting right back at square one. But, I agreed to give it a shot. I had already bought a ski pass for the 2014-2015 season (before I tore my ACL!) and didn’t want to see it go to waste. I figured that the best way to get back into it would be to take a ski lesson and go from there.

One thing that was going to be very different about this season is that I have to wear my activity brace every time I ski. It’s a pain in the ass and I had to go buy wider-leg ski pants in order to have them fit over it- but it’s also a safety blanket. If I fall, it makes me feel a little better knowing that I have that brace to protect my operative knee.

Last Tuesday was the big day- the day that I got back on the slopes for the first time since that awful day last April. I went to Eldora for my lesson, since it was the mountain that I skied the most last season and feel the most comfortable on. It’s also really close to my house, so it’s easy to go up and ski for a few hours, come back home and pretty much work a full day. I figured that I’d start with a two hour private lesson and then see how I felt after that. Driving up to the resort, my stomach was in knots! I was so nervous and anxious and just wanted to get it over with. I signed up for the lesson, put on all my gear and met my instructor. I told her about my history with skiing and how terrified I was to get back on skis and she assured me that we would take it easy.

I started on the bunny slopes (on the magic carpet!). I hadn’t been over there since last January. It was weird to be on the small mountain and look over (to the big mountain) to the blue runs that I had skied most of last season- which now seemed totally intimidating. As I got off the magic carpet and went into my first turn, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I hadn’t forgotten everything! Sure, my turns were slow and my form needed a lot of improvement- but I was able to get down that run just find. I did one more run on the bunny slope before heading over to the lifts to try a green run. Once again, my first run down was fine! I was definitely tense and nervous, but felt more confident with each run. The rest of the lesson was spent doing run after run after run, working on technique and building my confidence back up. I even ended the time with a blue run- which was probably my best of the whole morning!

eldora_green

By the end of the lesson, I felt 1,000 times better. I still wasn’t 100% comfortable, but at least I knew that I was going to be okay. There are a few other mountains on my ski pass (which are much larger than Eldora) and I figured that I’d give Winter Park a try next. Greg said that they had lots of much longer green runs and that it would be a good place to practice. We both decided to take Friday off and head over there.

wp01

It was COLD (7˚ degrees!) when we got there, but the sun was out. Luckily, it warmed up pretty quickly. My legs were super sore from having taught Spinning and Bodypump the two days prior, but I figured that I would ski until my legs told me I was done (and then Greg could go off on his own). We did a few runs and I was shaky, but felt okay.

On the fourth (long!) run my quads were burning and I decided that it would be my last. It was a really long way back down to the base, but I made my way down. I was skiing along, minding my own business when BAM! – a snowboarder came flying out of control straight into me and knocked me over. I hit my head hard on the snow (luckily I wear a helmet!) and was just in shock for a minute. Greg rushed over and asked if my knee was okay (it was!) and I just sat there for a minute. I was PISSED. Being knocked over by some out-of-control dude was not really what I needed to get my confidence up.

After that, I was done. We still had a good 1,000 feet to the base and I wanted nothing more than to be off that mountain. My skiing sucked and I just felt shaky and scared. But, I made it to the bottom. And then I wondered… will I ever like skiing again?

Here’s the thing: last ski season (pre-injury) I was pretty carefree. I quickly learned that falling wasn’t a big deal (I literally fell about 12 times in my first lesson), so I wasn’t afraid of it. But, since my last fall ended up sending me into surgery I’m terrified of falling now. That makes it pretty difficult to enjoy the whole skiing thing.

I plan to keep on trying. My hope is that I’ll get a little more confident each time I go, and eventually, I’ll actually like skiing again. As I said in the beginning of this post- the whole purpose of me writing all of this is to hopefully be able to look back and laugh month or two from now. For now, skiing and I are not on the best of terms.

Have you ever come back to a sport after an injury? How did you deal with it?

Comments

  1. The first time I went skiing I almost got knocked out by an out of control snow boarder. So scary! It’s kind of like driving-i try to drive carefully because I’m more concerned with bad drivers than my own driving!

    • I’m sure there are quite a few out-of-control skiers too- but I’ve just never really seen them. But, I’ve had more than a handful of out-of-control snowboarders almost take me out. I agree about the driving thing, too. :)

  2. I was a slow skier as a kid/teenager, and I really want to get back to Colorado again, but I’m not sure loving skiing is in my blood. If its not your thing, that’s okay.

    • I agree! It’s just tough when EVERYONE out here is obsessed with it. I don’t need to be doing it every weekend, but I’d like to be able to be comfortable enough to take a few weekend trips each season.

  3. oh man. i am such a wuss on the hill now, after breaking my arm. no more jumps for me! glad you are able to get back out there!

  4. I’m happy to go with you to Eldora anytime – I have a pass there but haven’t skied it yet this season! I typically do the easier stuff too ;)

  5. I found your blog entry when I searched “return to skiing after ACL surgery” and really appreciate what you had to say about starting on the bunny hill (or “learning center”) and realizing that you could still do it. I totally understand the fear associated with falling now that you know firsthand that a fall can result in a season-ending injury and surgery. I tore my ACL and meniscus in February, had surgery in February, and am looking forward to getting back out there when we have enough snow this winter. I like the plan of starting on the bunny hill to get your bearings again. Thanks for the useful post!

  6. Hi, not sure if you will pick this up, but I had ACL surgery 19 April and am hoping to ski in February and Easter – my physio says too soon or if I do go then I need to put in lots of hard work. Surgeon says yes, I could go and says that even though my knee still doesn’t have quite full range of movement and I can ‘feel’ it’s still not healed but that this is normal and should be okay by Christmas. Just wondered if this is what it was like for you – sorry I have left such a long message! Thanks.

Comments are welcome (and encouraged)!