Healthy and Happy Two Years Later

Photo from the jump session at Alta on January 15, 2014. Photo: Drew Hartley

Photo from the jump session at Alta on January 15, 2014. Photo: Drew Hartley

There are certain dates which I will never forget the significance of. December 25: Christmas. July 4: Independence Day. February 14: Valentine's Day. June 22: my birthday. August 20: my brother’s birthday. And perhaps most of all: January 15, 2014.

Today marks the two-year anniversary of a day that changed my life. While hitting a jump at Alta, I over rotated a cork 7 and held the mute grab too long. The impact led to me dislocating my hip and shoulder, partially tearing my ACL, and breaking a few ribs and my sacrum. Despite the list of injuries, I still look back on the day and smile about the fun jump session and my good fortune to walk away (on one leg) without a broken back or neck.

A pre-existing condition in both of my hips was already creating issues before the crash. After the dislocation of my right hip on January 15 the labrum was all but destroyed, and the situation warranted surgery. Due to a long recovery timeframe it made sense for me to also undergo surgeries on my other hip and one shoulder.

Unable to take care of myself, I moved back to my parents' house for the three surgeries and ensuing recovery. Physical therapy consumed my life. I started walking again with two laps in a pool. Frankly, skiing seemed far off, but even still, it was at the forefront of my mind throughout, motivating me toward a better future.

The past two years were painful, trying, and at many times ugly and even depressing. But that said, I would not change a thing. The past two years were the two greatest, most valuable years of my life. I learned more than I ever would have if I had been healthy the whole time. I found myself. I found a new level of motivation. I learned that I was a skier to the core of my soul, but I also learned that I was capable of being more than a skier. I fell in love for the first time. I dedicated myself to school. I took the time to pursue writing. I surfed. I got healthier than I had ever been.

Through my accident, surgeries, and recoveries I became a better, more complete human. And for that I will be forever grateful.

So today I skied, rejoiced, and loved the day like it was my last, just as I have strived to do ever since January 15, 2014. I am currently skiing in Japan. I am living my dream and taking advantage of my good health.

Near the end of our day ski touring, I took the opportunity to stand atop the ridge alone and breathe in the moment. Warm light illuminated the treed slopes across the valley. There was a peaceful silence except for the trickle of the creek at the bottom of the valley. And in front of me laid a field of deep, enticing powder. I was at home once again.

So I pushed off, quickly floating on top of the snow and gathering speed. Every turn brought with it an exhilarating sense of freedom from my past. I popped off the rollers that found themselves in my line, turning like an airplane, hung in a timeless state, before landing back in the perfect snow. I giggled, laughed, and yelled the entire way down, other than the two turns when I was choking on snow. I was elated. This is why I underwent the necessary surgeries. This is why I put my head down through the endless hours of physical therapy. This is why I powered through my moments of doubt.

It is great to be healthy, alive, and skiing once again.

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I would also like to add that my recovery would not have been possible without the incredible support of so many people around me. Thank you to everyone that helped, supported, and encouraged me in the past two years. I would be nowhere without each and every one of you.