A Season Ender

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Well, this was definitely not the post I wanted to write today. As I sit here with my foot elevated wrapped in a cast, all I can think of is how mad I am at myself right now.

Geez Ryan… Why did you have to go and do that?

It all happened on my last run during the finals at the World Cup in Kreischberg, Austria. 

By the time the finals were underway, it was late in the day. The sun had already dipped behind the mountains, making the course dark and hard to spot the landings while in the air.  But as an athlete, when it comes to contest time it doesn't matter how bad the conditions are. You’re in the zone, pumped up and feeling fearless.

Here's a clip from a practice day. Dark, dark, dark!


Already have landed my first two runs, I was sitting on a high score only a few points behind the leader.  With one run left, I knew exactly what was needed to win.

From the moment I dropped in, up until the last feature in the course everything seemed to be coming together flawlessly. But as I launched off the final jump into the air, during the midst of my maneuver I lost sight of the ground. Now I don’t think I need to explain that this is not what you want to happen at 25ft up in the air while flipping and spinning a distance of 70ft.  

What seemed like a lifetime in the moment was probably less than a second in reality. As the ground appeared from the shadows, I frantically twisted my feet somewhat under me before smashing into the icy landing. Within a split second, my body compressed to the ground, rolling over my front foot and was sent tumbling down the slope. 

Here I am sliding to a stop after the hard impact.

Embed from Getty Images


When I finally came to a stop and slowly tried to stand, a throbbing numbness in my foot became apparent. But with the crowd cheering and adrenaline pumping, after hobbling towards the finish corral the pain in my foot started to dissipate.

For the next half hour, I stood at the bottom of course watching the last few competitors in anticipation before running around celebrating my 2nd place finish! After another half hour of jumping on and off the podium and spraying champagne at the other medalists.. my foot seemed to be doing alright. That was until my boot came off and the swelling began.


Right after the event, with the cars already packed, the team and I were directly en-route to Switzerland for the next event. So I filled a bag full of snow and hit the road. But even after hours of ice and elevating my foot, the swelling only worsened.

The next morning it was apparent something wasn't right. My team doctor scheduled an appointment for me in Zurich to have imaging done and to hear my fate. After an X-ray, MRI and CT scan, the doctors told me I had a broken navicular bone with a slight impression of the talus and bruising to the talar head. All I heard at the time was my season was over.

The red circles indicate the area broken

 

Road to Recovery

I guess there’s really never a good time to hurt yourself, but I would have preferred it being closer to the end of the season.  I was only five events down in an 18 event tour. It’s just a bummer that I spent months and countless hours training for this season and it’s now over.  But I guess that’s the name of the game. Sometimes you have to pay to play.

Over the years, I’ve broken many bones and each time, I was able to come back stronger and more determined than ever!  Even though I’m bummed now, I understand this will all pass and with a lot of hard work and effort… I know I’ll be right back up there on the podium again.

Here’s to a speedy recovery!

 
Photos courtesy of (Miha Matavz @ FIS)
Thank You!
 
 
 

Training at the Olympic Park

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Every year as the holidays come to an end, each competitive snowboarder is faced with a similar challenge: deciding where the best place to get back on snow would be.

With snow conditions constantly changing, hard to perdict mountain weather and holiday crowds.  What you might think to be an easy task can be quite difficult. Especially when you only have a week to shake the cobwebs and get back in the zone before the contests begin again.

Not wanting to spend big bucks and chance unfavorable forecasts, this year the U.S Team did something different.  With Utah having one of their better starts to winter in years, the team decided to build us our very own private jump at the training grounds of the prestigious Utah Olympic Park.

Photos courtesy of "Wiki Commons"


 

The New Addition 

Ever since the Winter Olympics in 2002, the Olympic Park has become a training facility for athletes of all levels.  The Olympic grounds were originally only designed with bobsleigh, luge, skeletonski jumping, and nordic  in mind. However, over the years the park has added other features to aid in winter sports training.  One of these additions, in partnership with the the U.S Team, is being built specifically for my discipline…  a dry land, big air training bag!  

                  Sketch of the dry land jump (left) and take it to snow jump (right)                                 Photo -"US Ski & Snowboard"

The concept is a jump built from a material which resembles snow and can be used during the summer months. But what makes this jump so special is the landing. It will be made to act as a giant airbag, but resemble the landing of an actual jump. This will allow me and my team to train and practice difficult, new maneuvers without the big risks of getting hurt. It’s really quite something! You can read more about it here: PROJECT JUMP

To make things even more convenient, this summer jump can easily be converted for use in the winter!  As this new addition is still in its building phase, the airbag wasn't set up yet. But with the layout already built entirely from dirt, it didn't take much time to move snow around and mold an actual jump in its location.



Training Frenzy!

Over the last few days, me and team have been hard at work getting revamped for the competitive season. It was the first time the facility created a jump of this kind, and what they built was smaller than we were expecting.  So instead of pushing to learning new tricks, I’ve been focusing on perfecting the tricks I already can do… which has been a nice change of pace. It’s never a bad thing to step back from the big jumps and constant push for progression and focus more on your style and creativity. 

In just a few days, I’ll be heading off to Austria for the first Slopestyle World Cup of the season. In 2015 at this same venue, I was able to take home the win and walk away a world champion!  Let’s hope the course treats me as good as she did then. 

Wish me luck!