I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Audrey for a few weeks during her initial stages of recovery. She shreds hard and is looking to help push women's freestyle skiing and make a name for herself in the industry. I hope you enjoy her thoughts and perspectives about returning to ski after her ACL repair.
1.) Introduction: Name, Age, Level of skiing, home mountain
Audrey Friess, 19, advanced, Brandywine Ski Resort
2.) What initially got you into freestyle skiing?
I met some very cool people while skiing one night and they taught me how to hit a rail. Also I found there to be little or no other girls doing park at our home hill, and that made me want to get better and better.
3.) With freestyle skiing being a such high impact sport, I am sure there are many bumps, bruises, and injuries along the way. Can you highlight any significant injuries you have sustained?
I have only had one major injury and that was tearing my acl and meniscus. I’ve also had a couple of concussions and bruised ribs.
4.) Out of those listed, which injury was the most difficult for you, both physically and mentally, in terms of return to skiing?
Tearing my acl and meniscus after aggressively freestyle skiing injury free for 4 years was the hardest battle I have faced so far. Physically, I have never had to work out or train before and it was all new to me. Mentally, thoughts raced through my head telling me to stop skiing all together (crazy right). While being confined to my bed and being forced to work out, I was not mentally healthy. I lost almost 20 pounds from my already skinny body and felt hopeless. Physical therapy was painful for me. Nick can account for that haha. But honestly mentally I got better because I realized I wanted to come back to skiing and I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be apart of breaking boundaries for women in the this sport. And that is why I tried to push harder and get better.
5.) What physical aspects and what mental challenges occurred during your rehab process?
During rehab I cried a lot because it was painful in the beginning. Working on getting my knee completely straight was the hardest thing ever. But then it got better, and once it got very good a month in, everything came crashing down. I slipped and fell while at home while not wearing a knee brace and my knee bent in the wrong direction. I thought it was game over again. Thankfully my acl was still intact and I just needed to let it rest. This fall set me back quite a bit. I was back doing basic workouts and my knees range of motion was not great. Thankfully I got through it and got back on track with my workouts.
6.) Speaking of rehab, how was the physical therapy process? (timeline, PT personality, what worked, what didn’t work for you), etc. Honest opinion!
PT was very strange to me at first. The physical therapist told me to start eating better because my diet and physical therapy is now a necessary routine I have to follow if I want to come back stronger. If you know me, you’d know I did eat healthy at all. But after that moment I began eating a lot more fruits, veggies, and less fast food. At first I walked in fresh out of the doctors office from getting my brace unlocked and the Physical Therapist tells me to take off my brace?!!!! WHAT?! I said are you sure???? I thought it was dangerous to do anything without the brace on, but that’s completely false. Also, with never having to workout before and train I hated it a lot. Someone telling me what to do and if I did not do it good enough they tell me to do it again. Physical Therapy drained me, twice a week for three hours was intense! I was only given 20 visits from insurance so I did 10 weeks. I found out as my workouts got more intense that the physical therapist being aggressive and telling me I could not leave unless I reached 100 steps in less than 60 seconds really worked. The way I was encouraged and pushed to my limits was rewarding.
7.) How was your skiing affected once you were cleared to return to ski? Did you change style of ski or boot?
When I first got back on snow I just skied downhill and got used to turning and such. I wore a custom knee brace. I also turned my dins down from an 8 to a 5 because when I tore my acl my ski did not release. I didn’t hit park until about a month after I got back on snow. I did get new skis and look pivots mounted for my return to skiing.
8.) How is your fitness routine now? Did it change after your first major injury?
My fitness routine now is not consistent but if I told myself a year and a half ago that I’d drive myself to the gym and actually work out I would not believe it. But here I am, still working on getting stronger and healthier.
9.) How often do you stay in touch with your PTs or trainers for updates or advice?
Being across the country now away from my PT is definitely one of the reasons I haven’t been doing my best with strengthening my knee but I can call or text my original physical therapist.
10.) Do you have any advice for those going through rehab themselves?
Keep your mental strong and know it gets so much better. You just have to work hard to get back on track.
11.) What is your favorite skiing memory?
My favorite skiing memory will always be skiing with my best friends Sarah and Ethan at Brandywine. Never a dull moment.