Skier Alice McKennis eager to race again | AspenTimes.com

Skier Alice McKennis eager to race again

Alice McKennis
U.S. Ski Team

The racing season is in full swing, and as all my teammates take to the start gate at World Cups, I am currently still in the process of getting back into gates and keeping the pedal to the metal with my recovery and return to racing

After spending three months on crutches and another five months of rehab while living in Park City, Utah, I made it back on snow on Oct. 23, two months sooner than the initial prognosis of skiing in January.

The severity of my injury was significant, a fractured tibia and tibia plateau shattered into more than 30 pieces, requiring a plate and 11 screws to hold it all together.

Just the other day I was talking to my surgeon, and he was telling me that when he told me I might ski in November, in his mind he thought in no way was that a possibility.

Apparently, I believed him and took those words to heart and made it happen.

Since being back on snow, I spent days of slowly skidding my turns to "check" everything out, then days of skiing drills to get my balance and technique back, and finally I have made the leap to running full length super-G courses.

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This weekend, I will make the final leap of beginning to race again. Not quite ready for the World Cup yet, I will start my first race at Copper Mountain with some Nor-Am events and use them as final training before I head to France to race the World Cup in Val d' Isere before Christmas.

My preparation for this season is short with 30 days of total skiing from my first day of skidded turns to my final day of training before the Nor-Ams.

I will have had nine days of full-length training.

To put it all in perspective, my teammates have had at least three times that amount of skiing.

Strangely enough, I feel comfortable and ready to go.

The emotional toll of waiting to race has been difficult, especially this past weekend during the World Cup races in Beaver Creek.

There simply is nothing like racing in your home country, let alone home state, in front of all your family, friends and American fans.

As anxious I as I am to get back in the starting gate and back with the World Cup team, I have to remind myself constantly to remain patient and remember how far I have come.

Remembering back to when I was on crutches and what a difficult time that was for so many reasons has given me a much greater gratitude for the small things in life, and I appreciate every day back on snow even if I am not totally ripping that day.

I still have a difficult task ahead of me to get back to my racing form of last winter and to qualify for the Olympics, but I feel the hardest is behind me, and it is only going to take a little more courage and hard work to return to my top form again.

Onward.