2017 Season Recap - Shoulder Recap

Last October, I was faced with a hard decision. I just had a traumatic shoulder dislocation, which tore my labrum, a tissue that keeps the shoulder ball in the socket. Because it was my 10th dislocation/subluxation in less than a year, my doctor told me I needed surgery to repair the labrum. Although it was a risky move, I decided to push the surgery to after the ski season. The rules were pretty simple: I was going to physical therapy 2-3 days a week, and if I had any type of dislocation or subluxation, I would need to have surgery right away. I was so excited that I was allowed to ski and race. Getting to a high level of competition though was another story.
I have been dealing with shoulder instability since November 2015, but my latest incident was the worst

I wasn't really allowed to rollerski for the majority of October, and when I did no-pole, it was pretty uncomfortable. I could run a little (with discomfort), and the majority of my training was either leg work in the early morning weight room hours, intervals on the stationary bike (when everyone else had arm day), and hiking. It was frustrating because I knew other high school skiers were in the midst of a high-intensity interval period, but I had no choice but to keep trudging along. 
No poling my way through November

For the severity of my injury, I was preforming very well in Physical Therapy. My range of motion improved dramatically, and they were impressed with how quickly my strength came back. We worked on stabilization in my shoulder, training my back muscles to compensate for my arm and shoulder, we trained through how my arm and shoulder would react if someone stepped on my pole (a high risk for another dislocation) and how I could fall differently, to protect my right shoulder.
One of the hardest things was regaining my balance and not being scared- my technique at the beginning of the season suffered because of it

The first time I got on snow was the Endurance United Thanksgiving camp in Canmore. I was very very excited and extremely pleased with my ability to pole in the snow. It did become quickly frustrating when my body couldn't handle the upper body work, forcing me to no poled the last half of camp. 

Canmore- no pole work

I was planning on going to Senior Nationals in Soldier Hollow, but after my Canmore trip, I decided not to. With Hyland Bloomington open, I was able to get more snow time, and each session I did, I was able to see improvement. Senior Nationals was one of my big goals for the season, but I decided I wasn't ready yet to compete at such as high level, and with such a high risk for injury.
Racing at Senior Nationals- 2015

My first big race back was a huge disappointment. I knew going into it that I couldn't have too high of expectations, but I was still very disappointed at the Cable JNQ classic race. Although I hadn't been expecting a great result, the harsh reality that I wasn't anywhere where I wanted to be was tough. The next day was a much different. Having my confidence shooken from the day before, I drafted off people during the entire 2 lap race. My focus on leg strength during the fall really showed, I could still skate powerfully in the wet, slow conditions. I ended up barely winning the race. It felt really good to know that I could come back from a really hard day, and while I knew I needed to stay focused and continue working on my rehab, I kept coming back to that race when I was having tough days, because it was proof that what I was doing was paying off.

Finish of the Cable JNQ 10k Skate Mass Start

My first target race of the season was State. State has always been very important to me because ever since I was really young, my family would go up to the races with whoever qualified that year for the Highland Park Nordic Ski team (my dad is the coach). Ever since I first qualified for state in 8th grade, my goal was to win the whole dang thing, and each year, my results got better. I had a very good seed, starting off in the first race, but I didn't exactly have the race of my life, like I hoped I would. I was very frustrated, because throughout the season, my classic skiing hadn't been as strong as my skate. It was nerve racking, but I knew I couldn't lose sight of my goals in between the races. In the pursuit, I started 7th in the pursuit, and I used the extra adrenaline up the Silver Trail climb. I moved up 4 places and got 3rd.

2017 Minnesota State Ski Meet

My second target race of the season was Junior Nationals. After state, I had to take a long break because the weekend after were two Classic JNQ, and my shoulder was burned out. Even going into the beginning of the week at JNs, I didn't feel quite right, but I tried to push that aside so I could compete well. Instead, I had a few frustrating days in a row. My first race gave me the worst result I've ever gotten at JNs. My second race was even worse. The last individual race was my last shot to make something of my last year being a U18, and like State, I was ready to show everyone what I was fully capable of. I raced hard, gritted my teeth for 4 laps of the challenging Lake Placid course, and got 8th place. I have competed much better at JNs, but that All American title meant the most to me, than any other one.
2017 Junior Nationals at Lake Placid

There were so many times this ski season where I couldn't wait for it to be done. I love skiing and ski racing, but that love, and my commitment to this sport were really tested this year. There were many days where I didn't feel like training or racing, but I did it anyway because I had decided at the beginning to give this season 100% effort. I didn't have much to work with, but I couldn't let it go to waste. 4 days after I came home from JNs, I did have my surgery, and I do not regret waiting to do it.
My surgery went really well- and the recovery process has been smooth so far!!

In skiing, I am often bewildered by how hard I can push myself, and how far that will take me. Since I had my first dislocation 2 Novembers ago, it has amazed me what I can accomplish while being held back by my injury. But now my re-start button has been pushed, and I am so excited to see what I can do now once I recover and have nothing holding me back. I have a couple months of mandatory recovery (aka see how quickly the doctor will let me start running ;) ) but my head is up again, and I am ready to see how my experiences, especially in the past season, will influence my future in skiing. I am so excited to ski for the Northern Michigan University Nordic Ski Team next year, and see where that takes me!


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