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.