I know it’s only been a day since my last post, but it was a big day and I wanted to put the whole story out there myself. I skipped the 3rd day of practice to rest my heel and then went up for the event. Originally, I thought only 2 girls were going to make it straight to finals in my heat. I was okay with that. I knew that the competition was rough and that with less practice and a bruised heel, the chances of me doing that were slim. I was going to take my drop and then really go for it on Sunday. Things changed when I heard that they were going to take 4 people from my heat into the final. I knew that with a decent but clean run, I’d be able to get in there. I got in my head that I would be able to go out, ride through the pain, put down a run, and be in the final.
I’d almost entirely convinced myself of that case-scenario until I tried putting my boot on, tightening it, and walking up to the start of the course. I was stubborn. The pain was there but it was bearable. I’d been resting for 48 hours. When Bill and our ATC, Jason, asked me if I was going to hit anything for practice/the event I told them, “yeah”, to which Jason replied “…no, you’re not.” and I said, “wanna bet?”
Strapping in was tough since tightening my heelstrap puts pressure on my heel. Still, I figured I’d at least try to take a practice run and see how I felt before I just gave up for the day.
I dropped in. The first part of the rail section was uncomfortable but not as bad as I thought it would be. Then I got to the 2nd part of the rhythm section. I hit the flat down, which is pretty high at the end. I came off a little early too and dropped a few feet to the relatively flat pitch. My heel hurt but I kept riding and went into the pole jam. When I landed that I started biting my facemask. I hit the first jump and went into the second one completely loaded up on my back foot, not wanting to put any weight on my front. I evened myself out on the take off, hit the jump, went a little big, and landed. The impact from the other features and that jump (especially considering I went a little bit big) was too much. I went straight to my back foot, slid out, and went around the 3rd jump.
I was stupid. At that point, the rest that I’d had was pretty much out the window. I was fully hobbling again heading over to the lift but I went back for more. I REALLY wanted to compete and still somehow had it in my head that if I just figured out the speed in practice I’d be able to send the tricks in the contest. I got to the top, completely ignored Bill’s questions about how I was feeling and what I was going to do, and dropped in again to a very similar run, except this time I legitimately fell over by the time I landed the 2nd jump. I couldn’t even one-foot up the next jump to get off of the course. I started crawling. This was when I knew that I shouldn’t compete. Even if I were able to hit the features, even if I did land a run (however unlikely that would have been), how would those 3 or 4 extra runs have affected how my heel would feel on Sunday?
I made it to the top again and nearly started to cry. Yesterday was not how I imagined the Olympics to be for me. I haven’t been dreaming of taking that run since I was 8. I wanted to go out there, do my absolute best, and be proud to be representing the United States. Instead I received the lowest score you can possibly get and felt like I didn’t even try. I know that it was the smart decision. I know that I could have potentially gotten more injured if I didn’t listen to my body, but the situation still sucks. Most people don’t really understand the importance of this event for me; 99% of the population doesn’t have that one thing that they’ve wanted more than anything for more than half their life. I did have that thing, and yesterday did not live up to my expectations. I did not go out there and live my dream.
When I got to the bottom of my run, someone from the media at the bottom asked me “Are you embarrassed?” to which I responded something about my injury and how I’m going to come back on Sunday. At that point, my real and truthful answer would have been “Yeah I am. I obviously didn’t make it here with the skill-set that I demonstrated in that run. Anybody who gets a score of 1.00 is going to be embarrassed. I’m embarrassed about my injury and embarrassed of the show that I put on for all of my friends and family back home watching.” I came to the conclusion that I need to get over myself. If this were any other event, it wouldn’t have even been a question whether or not I was going to compete. Listening to your body and doing what’s best for you as an athlete and as a competitor is 1,000 times more important than putting yourself in a compromising position because you’re doing what other people expect you to do.
So, to Mr. Reporter Guy: Are you embarrassed that you watched a 16-year-old-girl who’s competing at the Olympics limp off the course after her run and tried make her feel self-conscious about her performance?
My coach said something to me before I took my run that really helped. He said “the Olympics doesn’t start today for you”. That’s the new way I’m looking at it. I didn’t compete yesterday. I compete on Sunday for my spot in finals, and I’ll hopefully compete in finals for a place on the podium. If yesterday were the day of finals, I would have tried my best to do something. But, given the fact that just by getting that 1.00 I was able to give myself a better shot on Sunday, I had to weigh what I would gain and what I would lose. | Gain: 2 days of rest, a better chance in the next round, the opportunity to really show the world what I can do | Loss: round 1, a bruised ego | The best way to look at what happened yesterday is to treat it like a necessary meeting I needed to attend in order to compete.
I’m moving forward and into Sunday’s competition with my head high. I am excited to really show what I’ve got to the world and debut my riding. Thanks again to everybody for the love and support. Keep those happy healing thoughts coming!
Straight from Sochi,
P.S. I don’t want anybody to be confused about what my injury actually is. I have a bruise on my knee. I have a very similar looking one on my forearm/elbow. Those injuries are not a problem to me. I don’t have “a bruise on my heel”. I wish that I did. I have a severe heel contusion and damage to the soft tissue within my heel that is causing free fluid to build up within it. It’s not an uncommon injury in snowboarding, but outside of the sport I understand that it might sound like I have a black and blue. In reality, the skin itself is not really bruised. The soft tissue that’s deeper within my foot that protects my bone is bruised and aggravated. A black-and-blue would not have stopped me from taking my runs, believe me.