Thursday, 28 February 2013

Good riddance Titanium rod and 10 screws!

In August in New Zealand I will ski pain free.

Please don’t brush that statement off lightly. Having comeback in all my metallic leg glory after that crash in Lake Louise in December 2010; being able to ski without pain will be a dream come true.

I have proved I can ski fast as I am. Scoring World Cup points in my first World Cup back on the same course that threatened to end my career showed that my guts and determination to come back to the sport I love were not in vain. I have backed that up with other World Cup points scores throughout the tour.

I don’t look closely at qualification or criteria, I have the self belief to know that if I am on my A game I will be in consideration. But others have told me I am definitely on course to compete in my fourth Olympics in Sochi next February.

On a good day I am among the top 30 in the world. In training when conditions have been more favourable I have been top 20 and winning splits. This is good, considering what I have been through and the limited resources and support I have. But I know I can be faster. What holds me back is pain. There are two sources of this, one is the bridging area of where the metal ends and my natural bone starts. You never think about bones being flexible - but under strain and in intense sporting positions your bones flex and adapt to the pressures. Well the majority of my tib can’t do this! The other source of pain is a still existing break in the tib. Every-time I hit a bump and in the middle of every turn when the pressure is at its maximum I have to take a sharp intake of breath and ski through. Some of you who have watched my skiing closely this year will have possibly noticed my right turns are weaker than my left and especially in flat light conditions or bumpy terrain, to ease this pain I have had a tendency to ski with a very narrow stance thus evening the pressure out with the use of my ‘good’ left leg. This is how you manage pain. You adapt. Unfortunately in a sport like ski racing where you always have to be on the limit and looking for speed, having such a weak second turn means you limit your capability to make and maintain speed.

The crash at the World Champs in the training run was a little wake up call. Since then I have been fighting to get back to ski the last few races. But skiing and racing are two entirely different things. Maybe in another month I would be able to ski. But to make it worth the wait I need to be able to RACE!

Because of all of the above, I finally came to the decision yesterday to keep my focus on the big goal - fulfilling my potential with a personal best next February at the Sochi Olympics. To do this I need to get rid of all this pain. And to get rid of the pain I have to remove all the metal work and get healing. Decisions to have surgery never come lightly but in this instance the risks are massively outweighed by the benefits I will have of being able to focus my everything on making speed and not having to adjust for a ‘weaker’ side.

The comeback is something I know all about. But last time I was coming back with an impediment. This time I will come back fresh and without any excuses not to ski fast!!

Chemmy will undergo surgery this Friday morning (1st March) in Innsbruck by Austrian Ski Team physician Doc Fink.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Looking back at past Winter Olympic Games with 1 year to go until Sochi!

Yesterday marked exactly one year until the Sochi 2014 Olympics and it’s fair to say my sights are firmly set on my ultimate goal of competing there. The fact it’s never far away from my thoughts, isn’t a nuisance as you might assume, instead it acts as an aid to keep me focused. With that in mind, I wanted to share some memorable and inspirational moments from past Winter Olympics. 

Steve Bradbury – 2002
The first memorable moment took place during the Salt Lake City games. Having been in the Australian short-track skating team for over a decade, Bradbury finally got his shot at glory in 2002, 1000 meter final. Narrowly reaching the quarter final thanks to a disqualification, the Aussie relied on a tactic of staying out the way of trouble to progress past the semi final, after other competitors crashed out. Getting to the final was an unexpected event in itself, but what happened next was a shock to everyone, not least Bradbury. Trailing the leading pack, his destiny seemed set, until a huge wipe out saw all the other competitors knocked to the ground. All that was left to do was to cruise to the finish and claim Australia’s first Winter Olympic Gold. A great example of how far you can get by never giving up.

The four-man Jamaican Bobsleigh Team – 1988
The second inspiring moment I want to share comes from Calgary 1988. The four man Jamaican bobsled team became cult favourites for being the most unlikely team at the games. Against expectations they put in solid performances, but it wasn’t until a crash on one run that they cemented their names in Winter Olympic folk lore. The team rose from the crash unscathed, and in a true show of Olympic spirit, walked to the finish line to great applause. The story was later captured in the Disney’s film Cool Runnings.

Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean – 1984
Looking to Britain for the next memorable moment, who can forget Torvill and Dean, (even if I was a bit young to remember seeing it live). Their gold medal interpretation of Bolero at the Sarajevo games of 84, was arguably more art than sport, but it was certainly also poetry on ice. The performance struck a chord with us Brits and remains an enduring Olympic memory.

Herman Maier – 1998
The final inspirational Olympic moment is the one that stands out most to me. Not just because it involves one of the best Alpine Ski Racers in history, but also as it is an example of a miraculous recovery from a serious crash, which has helped inspire me on my road to recovery. Going into the downhill at Nagano 98, Herman Maier was the pre-race favourite. However, a spectacular crash saw Maier flying through the air, land on his head and crash through three layers of safety netting. The crash looked impossible to walk away from, but ‘the Herminator’ managed much more than that. Three days later he came back to win both the Super G and Giant Slalom – a truly heroic performance!

Of course that’s just a small selection of the many memorable and inspired moments that the Winter Olympics has provided. What are some of your favourites?