I’ve been meaning to sit down and write a November update for quite some time, and the issues that were going to be covered would mainly include how confident I was feeling after pre-season training on the glaciers with the Kaernten Team and Austrian C-Team in Moelltal and a number of sessions with Ambition up on Kitzsteinhorn. I would then go on to tell you that we had possibly the most amazing couple of days training slalom in Ramundsberget in Sweden before some GS in Funaesdalen. The next couple of weeks would consist of a busy race schedule with the Europa Cup season starting in Hemsedal, Norway on the 1st of December, before heading back to Austria for FIS races and to continue towards my goals of ending up top 30 in the Europa Cup standings in GS this year with a decent finish in the World Champs in February.
As most of you are probably aware, I had a bit of a tumble on Saturday during training in Sweden which resulted in me landing on a boulder on my back and due to the impact have fractured 4 of the transverse processes on the left side of my Lumbar spine (so the bits that stick out from your vertebrae). Whilst I am obviously completely devastated that I am going to have to take quite a chunk of time out to recover and am not really sure exactly when I’ll be back on skis, I am also feeling extremely lucky that the injuries were not significantly more severe. After 8 hours strapped down to a board and a 250km ambulance journey I had a lot of time to panic, worry and pour over a huge number of outcomes. I have to say that once I had put all the hospital staff, my friends and family through a huge number of spontaneous tearful outbursts after the diagnosis, I am feeling remarkably lucky that I won’t suffer any long term damage.
For this ‘luck’ the biggest thanks of my life have to go out to my coach Stefan Moser for his insistence on me wearing a back protector. I have to admit that whilst I always wore one for speed events, I never wore one for Slalom and GS. I told myself that the speeds weren’t that high so it wasn’t all that necessary, or that it would compromise the way I could move, or it felt awkward too wear. I came up with so many excuses until Stef finally said at the beginning of the month:
“Here is the back protector, there is the strap. WEAR IT. No excuses, just wear it”.
Reluctantly I wore it, and Saturday was only about the 3rd time that I had put it on for GS. It is highly unlikely I would be walking anytime in the near future if he had not been so persistent. It’s a huge reality check. I will never be skiing without one again. Thank you so much Stef.
So what now!? I’m meeting with my physio and doctor from the Scottish Institute of Sport tomorrow where they will start to guide me through rehab and will be with me every step of the way until I can get back on skis. I don’t want to rule out World Champs in February, I’m just going to take everything day by day and see when I’m fit to be back on snow. Pre-season training will not be wasted, physically I will come back much stronger and mentally the next few months will be tough, but I am confident that I will at least be skiing and training properly by the end of the season.
Finally, I have been overwhelmed by all the messages of support from everyone and thank you all for sticking with me – I will be back before you know it!!!
Lots of love, Charlie x