Meg Olenick is one of the young slopestyle stars of the U.S. Freeskiing Team. Raised just outside of Aspen, Colo., Olenick has been skiing park since she was a kid, following in the footsteps of her older brothers, Michael and Peter. After a series of knee injuries, she is looking for a strong season in 2012/2013 to solidify her spot on the 2014 Olympic team. Olenick will be blogging for OnTheSnow this season as she prepares for Sochi in 2014.
It’s been 242 days since I last put on my ski boots, stepped into my skis and sat on a chairlift. On Feb. 23, my skiing came to a halt. I instantly knew that something serious had gone wrong with my knee. My ACL was shredded to pieces, my meniscus was torn in two places and I had extensive cartilage damage.
Unfortunately that was not the first time I had heard this news; I’ve been through three ACL surgeries and was staring straight into the eyes of number four. I had surgery two weeks later and found myself non-weight bearing for eight weeks. It doesn’t sound too bad on paper, but after the first week I had hit my limit of couch time. I am not someone who likes help from others. I had to suck up my ego and rely on my family and friends for everything. If I wanted a cup of water, someone had to get it for me. If I wanted to get clean clothes from my room, I had to call for help.
Four weeks after surgery, crutches and all, I headed to Whistler for Sarah Burke’s memorial. It was exactly what I needed to get out of my rut. Nothing helps healing like laughing, smiling, getting to spend time with friends and celebrating the beautiful life of Sarah. It was a wake up call for me; it put my injury into perspective, it made me grateful for all that I have and gave me that extra little push in the positive direction that I needed.
I spent five days a week in the gym working with my strength coach and physical therapists to get me back on my feet, literally. After dedicating six months to hard workouts, I am finally seeing the results. Four days ago I was cleared to get back on snow and start the on-snow progression. The U.S. Ski Team put together a camp for a handful of us that tore our ACLs last winter to ease back onto snow with our coaches and physical therapists by our side. Copper Mountain was our destination for the week. Of course we were all filled with excitement about getting back on snow and seeing how all of our hard work in the gym would pay off.
Putting on my ski boots felt the same, stepping into my skis felt the same, sitting on the chairlift felt the same and here came the test: how would skiing feel? I think the best way to describe it was that it felt different. I have come back from ACL surgery in the past and skiing was always the same once I got back out there. This time is going to be different, I am going to have to take things slow and remind myself to not worry about what everyone else is doing but to just think about what is going to be best for me.
I feel more confident than ever with my overall strength and I know that will lead to confidence in my skiing. I can’t deny that sitting on the chairlift all bundled up in my gear with my friends was the best feeling I’d had in months. I look forward to the coming months to see how my knee progresses and what it allows me to do. I can’t change what has happened in the past and I can’t predict the future, so right now is all about living in the present.