Last night I watched The Ordinary Skier, the two-year-in-the-making Seth Morrison biopic. There’s a section in the middle of the documentary where JP Auclair talks about Seth’s broken ankle and the impact of his year on the sidelines that put into words something that I never fully managed to articulate during my long recovery from injury and surgery. When sport is your heart and soul, an injury is more than just a limit on your physical activity. It’s more than the frustration of being set apart and left out. It takes your voice away; it leaves you mute.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid of being injured again; especially another ACL injury. It’s going to be interesting, this year, to ski without the restrictions from last season. I’ll have the freedom of the mountain again: the open bowls and couloirs, the powder, the tree skiing and the jumps. It’s not like I didn’t venture into a few places that I shouldn’t have gone last year, but I was so painfully conscious that I wasn’t meant to be there and I couldn’t afford to make mistakes.
It’s the question hanging over me right now: will I be able to get back to where I was before? I look back at the days I had in 2009/10, in the early part of the season before I wrecked my knee, and I know that these aren’t things I could have achieved last year. Top-to-bottom runs in Couloir Extreme; full speed through West Bowl late on a powder day; dodging trees on Bark Sandwich. I’ve got a whole summer of strengthening under my belt and these days there’s nothing that my knee stops me doing, from hiking the Lions to trail running. But it’s not the same as it was before, and I don’t know yet if my head’s the same either. Last year I started the season with extreme caution that gave way to wild abandon when I first got back to Whistler, and then had to reign myself in after the abrupt wake-up call of the first falls. I don’t want this year to be about reigning in, or caution. I want it to be about getting back into the game, and moving forward.
I may be overthinking this. One thing I learned last season is that no matter how much I turn things over in my brain, not one of the thoughts matters the moment I get back on snow. All I really need is for the new season to start.