Speedskater ready for hip surgery

This is the first in series of blogs from Olympic speedskating medalist Katherine Reutter, whom espnW will follow through two hip surgeries and rehabilitation.

Speedskating is what I love to do. The sensation I get on the ice, the burn in my legs when training and the challenge of always learning something new is what calls to me every morning when I get out of bed. Every day when I wake up I try to think, "Today is the day! Today is the day I get stronger, go faster, show the world what I'm made of."

Thursday, the way I'll show the world what I'm made of is by undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery. I'll be going to the University of Utah Hospital at 6:30 in the morning, and by 8 Dr. Stephen Aoki will be doing the surgery. I will then finally be starting the long process of recovering from an injury I've been dealing with for years.

I have femoral acetabular impingement in both hips, which means that the head of my femur is shaped -- and fits into my hip socket -- like an egg instead of like a circle. I also have a torn labrum -- a ring of soft, elastic cartilage around the hip socket -- that needs to be repaired, and there is the possibility I need microfracturing done as well, which can help heal damage to the cartilage in my hip joint.

I'm looking at this journey as a new beginning ... time for a change. Because of the damage in my hips, I've had severe pain in my left sacroiliac joint for more than a year. I can say with complete confidence I have given every last piece of myself physically, mentally and emotionally to overcome this injury and finally, just last week, I realized the fight was over. I haven't finished a whole training cycle since December 2010. Even with this injury I had the most successful season of my career last year, winning six world cup medals.

As hard as it is to admit I've reached the end of what I can control, it's time to open up to the idea that this isn't a problem I can fix with persistence and determination, but a legitimate medical issue that needs to be addressed. The doctors all agree that even if skating was completely out of the picture this surgery would still improve my quality of life.

So starting Thursday, it's time for a change.

Change always is a little scary, especially when there's so much on the line. While preparing for this part of my life and career I'm forced to ask myself, "What would you do if you were not afraid?" It's a question from the book "Who Moved my Cheese" by Spencer Johnson and a question both my mom and grandmother have been asking me all my life.

My biggest fear is overcoming the mental strain of rehabbing from this and one more surgery on my right hip set for March, and then making it back to the top of the world where I belong. This journal will take you with me through ups and downs, setbacks and triumphs and, most of all, offer an inside look at how even world-class athletes have to master their demons.

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