Racer eager for summer skiing | AspenTimes.com

Racer eager for summer skiing

Alice McKennis
U.S. Ski Team
Alice McKennis and her pals enjoy some freeskiing. The former AVSC racer is recovering from surgery.
Courtesy photo |

It has been a fairly uneventful (at least by the normal whirlwind standard I am used too) few months since I decided to undergo surgery in January to remove the plate and 10 of the screws from my leg.

I had a successful surgery on Jan. 28 and since then I have been living in the Vail Valley in order to do physical therapy every day.

I have progressed from four weeks on crutches to now lifting weights, biking and even a little fishing.

I am really excited for summer to be here so I can start mountain biking and outdoor living; not being able to ski really takes the charm out of winter. Turns it to something quite annoying when you are barraged daily by social media touting what an epic day of skiing you are missing out on.

I am sure there were many injured people in mountain towns that could relate this winter.

Prior to surgery I took some time to ski and ski some more. I haven’t free skied as much as I did in January since I was probably 12 years old.

It was fantastic; I visited friends in Snowbird, which was an eye-opening experience and at times a little terrifying.

It has been a long time since I have really pushed myself freesking and scared myself, I usually ski to be safe and not risk it too much during the race season. But since I was done racing for the year and was already getting surgery in a few weeks, I let myself get after it a bit and it was awesome.

I came back from Snowbird and skied days and days of powder in Aspen and Vail.

Having so much time to just ski and not be focused on how and why I was skiing other than to have fun gave me a taste of what my life would be like without ski racing; although it was great to just enjoy and not think about my next day of training or racing.

At the same time I missed that purpose.

It felt like I was just running out the clock as much as I could until I had to go under the knife again.

I again was reminded just how much I love to ski race. There have been times that I have wanted to quit to save myself from more injuries but having to voluntarily make the decision to end my season early to get a surgery that was inevitable nearly broke my heart.

At times I get a sense of regret for calling it so soon and thoughts enter my mind that maybe I could have made it to Sochi.

But then I remember the feeling I had while trying to race downhill early this season. My mind was pushing hard but my body was pushing harder back letting me know I was not ready for this no matter how much I tried to talk myself into it.

In the end, I know I made the right decision.

My leg feels better than it has in years, and I can do exercises and other simple movements right now, eight weeks out of surgery that I was unable to last fall, eight months out of surgery.

I will head to Park City next week to start training at the Center of Excellence with a goal to be fully recovered and on snow in June.

I have a big summer of training ahead, and I am only looking forward to it more and more.

I am excited to feel like an athlete again and be proud of what my body can do.