It has now been a little over four months since I broke my ankle while in the gym. Where the break sat at the base my fibula was a bit in the grey zone I guess you could say. Lower and it would heal fine on its own. Higher, and it would definitely need surgery. Having never been keen on doctors, the idea of choosing to put metal into my ankle was not a favourable one for me, so the decision was simple. I was fortunate enough to have an incredibly perceptive doctor on duty at the after hours, who insisted on setting the bone and doing the casting himself. Thanks to his diligence I have had a good reset and was able to avoid surgery. I was then under strict instructions not to weight-bear at all until the last 10 or so days. Most of the time spent in a cast is a complete blur as the variety in my days was rather minimal. I've always been an active person and having spent years in a high-paced sport, always on the move, the change of pace was rather a shock. So much so, that I found my attention span for things I'd normally enjoy to be quite limited.
Needless to say, I was ecstatic to finally be out of the cast and rid of the crutches by the end of July! It wasn't long before I was back in Queenstown, diving into rehab and gym. I progressed quite well but inevitably, being surrounded by mountains and my teammates skiing, it still felt pretty slow. It was at the moments just before frustration would set in, that I would become aware that I was able do things then, that caused pain only a few days beforehand. All the little things like walking down stairs or sitting cross-legged, and immediately I'd start grinning like a Cheshire cat! Such trivial milestones easily became the highlight of my day. So when my Physio, Pete, told me I was allowed to jump (albeit a tiny stationary jump) I was over the moon. I sounded like a hippo trying (with no avail) to be stealthy but it felt like I was finally getting close to getting back to normal. I was also starting to regain some muscle mass in my right leg which was exciting despite the obvious disparity between my two calves.
I was thoroughly excited when Nationals kicked off at Coronet peak. Even though I was unable to be on skis myself, watching all my teammates go out and crush the races was good fun. And by the following week I was cleared to start pottering around on skis! I joined Pete and Alex (my team mate who broke her ACL in Feburary) freeskiing at either the Remarkables or Coronet Peak three times a week. Being back on skis also meant I could find a more advantageous viewing point for the next lot of races to hit Coronet.
After a little over 3 weeks of freeskiing drills and conveniently at the end of the major block of racing, I was able to start back in gates. A couple days of split course runs had me itching to be allowed to do a full length GS course. Confident persuasion saw me able to do so on day 3 and by the following day I was feeling relatively back to normal. I still didn't have the strength or endurance I would usually have and so wasn't near being back to full speed but I was loving every minute of training.
Lucky for me there happened to be two end of season races at Cardrona only a couple weeks after I returned to gate training. Surprisingly my coaches were all for me competing, if only to break the ice of getting back into racing. So with 6 days of GS and 3 of SL under my belt we headed to the Cardies for a pretty chilled couple races. Knowing I wasn't up to full speed yet, I surprised myself in the GS by only being a second or under off of my team mate in each run, placing 2nd! I wasn't expecting much heading into the slalom race seeing as, of my three days of slalom, half of that was through stubbie gates and I hadn't yet done a full length course. So to make it through the whole thing and end up second again, was a bit of a shock!
I would've loved to have more time on snow charging through gates but a few weeks is far better than none at all!
I'm thrilled to be heading to the States this year to join the Steamboat team in Colorado. I leave New Zealand on the 31st of October so only a couple more weeks till the Northern season starts for me!
I can't thank Pete and Remarkable Physios enough for everything they've done to get me back on snow. Every time I walked out of a physio session I was on cloud nine, feeling like I could do anything! (Obviously within reason Pete... wasn't going to go do anything too ridiculous!) Also a huge thanks to my surrogate family, the Jackson's, for the daily support and best 2nd home I could ever ask for! As always, thanks to my sponsors and supporters for everything and lastly my coaches and parents for all the support in getting back to where I need to be.