After saying that I do think I had a solid season, even though it was short. I got to go to Saas-Fee again where they had an epic set up this year, including two different start sections. In ski cross we don’t get all too much time on an actual cross course, so having 12 solid days on one is amazing. Especially when the views are breathtaking!
Our next big camp was in Sunpeaks. The hill there is always super accommodating to us, so of course we had a great camp. I ended it on a low note though, getting a concussion on the second last day, after crashing in a mock race (Dec 10). (if you don’t want to read about my concussion journey, just skip down to paragraph 3 from the end. I kind of ramble…)
What I thought was a very minor concussion would not get better. It looked really good, almost no symptoms at all after the first two days. I progressed through the first 6 steps out of our 10 step concussion protocol with zero symptoms. I got cleared to ski after a week, and I was thinking this concussion barely affected my training and school. But of course I was wrong.
I could already tell going up the chairlift that things weren’t quite right. I had to do my “back to snow” with a coach supervising, so I skied at the same time that the rest of my team trained, at night at COP. Going up the chairlift the lights started bothering me. They just seemed really bright. Skiing felt a little strange, but I thought to myself that it was because I was on slalom skis. By the end of my hour ski I felt exhausted. I got home, slept for 12 hours, and woke up with a headache. Crap. Back to step 1.
The headache did not go away for 3 days, and then was still there sometimes for the next two. I did go just over 24 hours without a headache before I headed back home to PG for Christmas, a friend driving my car. Somehow, we managed to spin and go into the ditch twice. The spinning did not do wonders to my brain. When we arrived at home I was starting to feel dizzy, which was not a symptom I had experienced before. It was mild enough that I thought maybe I was imagining my unsteadiness. After all, it had been a really long day and pretty stressful.
For the next few days the dizziness became apparently worse. My headache was pretty much gone, but it got so bad that sometimes I couldn’t sit without a backrest because I was scared I would tip over. I started going to physio for vestibular ocular therapy, and it helped a bit but the progress was slow. It took me almost a month to go from step 1 to step 6 again. Finally I could ski! I skied almost every day for a week for really short increments: from 30 min to 3 hours. At that time there was an opportunity for me to go back to Calgary, which I did. In Calgary, thanks to the awesome personal at Winsport Medical Clinic, I was cleared to race by February 10. Yay! We realized that it was not only my concussion that was creating dizziness; I actually had crystals dislodged in my inner ear. Once we got those back in place my dizziness was completely gone, and no other symptoms resurfaced! It took two months, but I was back in the game.
In the long run I realize that two months to normal isn’t that long for an injury, but it sure felt like forever for me. Since a lot of the recovery process for a concussion is resting and … doing … nothing… (which is not a skill set of mine), I really had to learn patience.
Back to competing! I launched right into racing since it was the middle of the race season. I was really nervous about how much training time I had lost, but I won my first two races back! It felt awesome to be back at it again. I went on to race at Ski Cooper, foreran the World Cup at Blue, competed in Nationals and NorAms at Blue, and completed National Juniors at Sir Sam’s.
And got another concussion there.
That ended my season, which really frustrated me, since I had worked super hard to qualify for World Juniors in the short time that I was racing. The concussion meant I couldn’t go to Italy for the race. Luckily the recovery from this concussion was very short; I was completely recovered in 3 weeks.
So to summarize my season was very short, but I do call it a success. I got several results that I am very proud of, including my 5th at Nationals and a 2nd at Ski Cooper. In training and racing I am getting more consistent at starts, am becoming more confidence on judging and hitting jumps, and learning the right/smart places to pass. I am super excited for next year, and not only for skiing! A couple teammates and me are renting a place together (adulting, I know), I’m attending U of C for my first year of a Bachelor of Arts, and we have an amazing crew on the National Development Team. Also, the Olympics are happening!!! Can’t wait to cheer on Canada! What more can I ask for?