After an Aug. 21 ski jumping injury in which I tore several ligaments in my knee, I’m excited to say that I am now eight weeks out of surgery and feeling great. The first six weeks of rehab were mellow, yet vital for the initial healing from the surgery. Even though I was in the gym every day, the exercises were simple. Now that I’m in the next phase, we are focusing on building strength and reaching full range of motion in my leg.
After my accident, I was isolated from interviews and I refrained from providing details about my future in terms of the Sochi Games, and of getting back on snow in general. After talking to my doctor, physical therapists and other parts of my support team, I made the decision to speak out about my goal: to make it back in time to compete in February at the Olympics.
When I participated in the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit earlier in October, it was the first time I shared my goal in public. It was crazy to have these words come from my mouth when I was being pushed around in a wheelchair. But I have talked with the professionals and they tell me that it is possible.
It’s hard for me not to think about what it would be like now if I was 100 percent healthy. It’s especially difficult when I imagine myself in Europe, training with the rest of the team and working to maintain a high level of jumping -- instead of learning how to walk again. But things aren’t that way, so I have to move on.
My goal of competing in Sochi is the reason I am getting out of bed in the morning and going to the gym for six hours a day. It’s the reason I still have a smile on my face and it’s the reason I will put my head down and fight through anything thrown at me in the next four months. I have dreamed of walking into the opening ceremonies representing Team USA way too many times to give up now.
Some people may think I am crazy, and that biologically this recovery is impossible by February. You know what I tell them? “Impossible” is not in my dictionary. Those who don’t believe in me push me even harder to prove them wrong.
My personal goal is that on Jan. 19 when the Olympic team is named, I’m able to look back at the past five months and can honestly tell myself I gave every ounce of effort I could. The amount of hours I am about to spend in the gym and the tough barriers ahead will not be easy, but I have to give it my all. If I give it everything I have, that is the best I can do, and no one can take that away from me.
It’s amazing that in the past two years I have tried to avoid thinking about the Games in fear of the immense pressure that comes with Olympic competition. However, these days, it’s the first thought that runs through my head in the morning and my last thought at night.
Head down, all out, it’s time to live my dreams.