Thursday, January 2, 2014

Roll the Dice

Being an athlete is not only talent, physical strength and determination but the investment in good health.   As we start the New Year, treating our body well is always at the top of the list, but is rarely followed through.  For an athlete, it’s not a resolution, it’s their job.  It employs others to maintain that health, and sponsors to put faith in it.  It’s not going in early to an office and it’s not going on a diet or getting a gym membership, its 24 hours a day 7 days a week all about maintaining one healthy body. 
Being healthy and strong minimizes the risk of accidents and mitigates the ones that do.  But skiing is always dangerous no matter how many precautions you take.  Lindsey has had an extraordinary career with the risks she took.  She pushed her limits and she became the best.  But the risks were always a hair away.  From Picabo Street, Norway’s Lasse Kjus, to the recent crash of Giant Slalon World Champion Tessa Worley, the rate of knee injuries among skiers is staggering. My mother said “in skiing it’s not if you get a knee injury, but when.”  
Tessa Worley crashed in the first slalom run at Courchevel taking her out for the season and the Olympics.  For Lindsey, who continued to ski without an ACL, to stop before the Olympics wasn’t an option.  She was determined to keep up with her points to get a good spot in Sochi.  Knee injuries are common among ski racers, but what Lindsey did wasn’t.  She pushed herself even further while injured.  She didn’t quit.  Lake Louise proved it and so did Val d’Isere.  Whether or not she makes it to the Olympics, the facts remain.  She has proven herself worthy of her success and an incorrigible athlete.  She won’t quit until it’s over.  Up until a few days ago, she couldn’t walk.  She said it feels like her knee was held together with rubber bands.  There is no end point to stop her knee from bending.
Lindsey isn’t successful just because of her skiing and isn’t successful just because she knows how to pose for a camera.  She worked extremely hard to get where she is and it’s difficult to imagine after all her hard work and the strength she built up this year wasn’t rewarded.  Lindsey has succeeded for her country whether she decides to race in the Olympics or not.  She created a generation of future skiers just as Kristina Koznick and Picabo Street did for Lindsey.  She has devoted her time to helping that future generation achieve their goals in skiing.  It’s not only about competing, but that devotion for something she loves.

For Lindsey, the near future is unclear, but the determination she gives to her sport and country will remain constant.  The Olympics are, as always, any ones game.  We’ll just have to roll the dice.

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