Alice McKennis blogs about her harrowing experience breaking her leg in a World Cup Ski Race a few months ago…
I was injured Jan. 2 training SG in Saalbach, Austria. It was the last run of the day, almost last gate, my left ski caught and I crossed my tips. Not a super crazy-gnarly crash but violent enough thats for sure! I knew before I had even finished crashing that something was for sure wrong with my leg. I knew my season was done right away, I remember everyone telling me that it would be ok and just to get it checked out first and I would be fine. Yea right! I knew something was WRONG.
At the hospital in Zell am See I remember being so angry at the Doctor, he came in and nonchalantly said ” oh yah, your leg is broken, you need surgery. We can do it here. Tomorrow.” Like it was no big deal. I mean come on…. I broke my leg and was pretty upset and he made it seem like it wasn’t a problem. Right then I thought ” yea ok buddy, Im getting OUTTA here, you are not gonna touch my leg”. He actually a very nice man and a good doctor, I was just pretty emotional and on some drugs that made me pretty cranky.
I flew home two days later and had surgery in Vail with the Womans US Ski Team doctor five days after I had broken my leg. Dr. Sterett put a plate and five screws to repair my tibia plateau. Basically what happened is when I was crashing my body moved forward with such momentum that my femur smashed my tibia plateau. I depressed the plateau by 8-9mm, so it was pretty messed up. Luckily the only ligament damage I had was my meniscus pulled apart from my tibia plateau so Dr. Sterett had to put in two stitches to reattach it to the bone.
The first week after my injury and just after surgery I was in pretty good spirits, it all seemed so surreal and like it wasn’t really happening to me. Almost like it was a dream and at any moment I was going to wake up and be back in Austria ready to ski that day. Once I was home after surgery I was pretty depressed and unhappy once it all really sank in. Everything was so frustrating and challenging for me, I couldn’t take care of myself and was stuck on the couch with nothing to do while the rest of my team continued racing in Europe. After a couple weeks of being bummed out and sad all the time I had enough of feeling sorry for myself and pulled myself out of my depression. My injury could have been so much worse and being cranky and unhappy wasn’t going to help me get better. I toughened up, and did everything I could to stay positive and worked hard at my therapy. I was on crutches for six weeks non-weight baring on my injured leg. It was a challenging time for me but I made it through. I know there will be many challenges ahead in life but the only thing to do is keep on charging on!
Since I have been off crutches I have been really busy with therapy and have started school. I am so excited that it is spring now, I get to be outside again! The snow is melting fast now and I can not wait to get out on my mountain bike and ride some downhills! Carefully of course….
I have been spending a lot of time with friends, took a trip to California for a fundraiser and a trip to Disneyland with my family. I have even taken two trips to Moab, Utah for some hiking and a change of scenery. So fun! I am going to work hard as I can to ski this August in New Zealand but make sure I have some fun along the way with camping trips, biking, hiking and whatever else gets me outside!