Sunday, March 3, 2013

80 to 8: One Year to the Next

When you can’t count the days that you snow ski in a season on two hands, you’re probably sitting pretty good. I lived in Jackson, Wyoming from August 2012 to April 2013, thus I was sitting pretty good. I worked four days a week; typically short workdays with skiing built into the afternoon. I would try to ski on my three off days as well. It was a incredible lifestyle and I look back at it as a experience that I cherish and will never forget. I now currently work and reside in Atlanta, Georgia. If you are reading this you are probably thinking: You lived in Jackson Hole and you moved to Atlanta? I think the same thing at times, but my goal was to spend ONE winter in the Hole and then start my career. 

 I skied just about 80 days in the winter of 2011-2012. Unfortunately, on day number 80 (ish) I was hiking the elevator shaft on a pretty big powder day where I lost my footing in the bootpack. To make a long story short I tore my meniscus. I would easily classify that as one of the worst days of my life, but at the same time it could have been a blessing in disguise (that’s some nice optimism right?). I was initially told by the clinic at the base of the mountain that I had torn my ACL. For someone as active as myself, who’s passionate about outdoor exploration, activity, and exercise it seemed like the end of the world at the time. An ACL tear is easily 10 months of rehab. Fortunately it was a miscues tear and not a torn ACL. A meniscus tear didn’t sound so bad at the time, but the road to recovery has been a long one and still continues to this day.

After my initial diagnosis I started physical therapy in Jackson Hole. It was difficult to accept the fact that my ski season was over. I spent the duration of my time in Jackson working hard at rehab trying to strengthen my knee to ski again that season. With the mountain open jut a few more days, I convinced myself I had worked hard enough to be able to ski again. I took one run and knew something was still not right. I skied one more day after that and closed the books on the 2011-2012 ski season and ended my winter in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

After leaving Jackson I moved back to Birmingham, Alabama in pursuit of a job. I eventually revisited an orthopedic surgeon because my knee still didn’t feel right; there I found out I would need outpatient orthoscopic surgery. I had my surgery on June 19th, 2012; today is March 3, 2013. I initially thought after a few weeks of rehab I would be back doing what I really love: slalom skiing, snow skiing, biking, running etc. Not so fast. The road to recovery has been a long one. After surgery, months of rehab followed trying to build my knee and leg back to the strength it once was. These were long summer days of unemployment, grinding with the image of a slalom course and untracked line of powder in the back of my head. Thankfully the hard work paid off. I was able to make two trips out west this winter, one to Snowbird, Utah and one to Jackson, Wyoming. While I skied 80 days in 2011-2012 I skied 8 days in 2012-2013. It’s an interesting, quite staggering number to contrast and compare. While 8 days is far from 80, I am thankful to be healthy enough to have knees that allow me to snow ski. One day I hope to have the opportunity to ski 80 plus days again.