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Olympic hopeful Alice McKennis talks to Ski Racing Magazine after her crash

Member Services
April 29, 2013
Categories: Member Testimonials, In The News

This March while competing at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Olympic hopeful Alice McKennis crashed, shattering her tibia into 30 pieces. In this interview with Ski Racing Magazine, she remembers the accident and shares how a Global Rescue chaperone helped soften the blow.

Tell us a little bit about your season leading up to the injury?

It was a good season, and I had a great prep period in the summer. I had surgery last spring to take the hardware out of my left knee, but I didn’t miss any on-snow camps last summer, so I felt really confident and good going in to the season. I was skiing a lot better technically than I ever had been. I had a good race in Val d’Isere, which was the last race before St. Anton [the site of her first World Cup win] so that gave me a little more confidence in St. Anton. I think since I was skiing lot better technically than I ever have been, that it made all the difference for me this year.

Talk about the U.S. women’s speed team this season and how that factored in to your success.

It wasn’t really any different than other seasons. I think for the four of us who hadn’t podiumed before, it was just kind of time. We had all been in the top 10 a lot, and it finally started clicking for all of us. Of course we see Lindsey and Julia on the podium all the time, and we kind of expect that. But seeing Stacey on the podium in Lake Louise at the beginning of the season, the rest of us thought, “It’s possible for us to do it, too; it’s not just Lindsey and Julia.” But from then on we saw each other do it and we thought, “Wow, I can do it too.” We’re all close in racing and training; it just comes down to having that perfect run.

Describe the injury: Where were you? What happened?

I was in Garmisch, Germany, racing downhill on March 2 and basically was coming on to the bottom of the course and had a bad turn, moved inside pretty far, and my outside ski lost contact with the snow. When I came in contact with the snow again, I basically got turned sideways on a little bump, and that caused my right tibia plateau to shatter into 30 pieces and then also break my tibia.

How did Global Rescue respond?

I was helicoptered from the race hill to the hospital and I was in the Garmisch hospital for a few nights. Global Rescue came up with a plan and they flew a staff member over to Germany, and he came to Garmisch and picked me up and we went to Munich and we flew out the next day. We flew business class all the way to Denver and then he drove me up to Vail straight to the hospital. Global Rescue organized the whole plane flight and they made sure I was comfortable and made sure I had a chaperone the whole way.

How did this impact your experience? How did this impact your recovery?

I have flown back from Europe with a broken leg before by myself...and it was MISERABLE. So having someone there to help me and assist me the whole way made the travel a million times better. I was pretty pumped about the whole experience. Flying back with Global Rescue and having a chaperone assist me the whole day helped me a lot when I got to Vail. I was a lot more relaxed and I had a lot better frame of mind before surgery than previously when I had to fly home alone with a broken leg.

How did this injury experience differ from your other injuries? You had almost the exact same injury a few seasons ago — how did this injury compare?

Two years ago I broke my left tibia plateau; this injury was a lot more severe. I have a plate in 11 screws after this injury. When I injured my left leg, I had a plate and five screws, so this one was a lot more severe. I guess having some experience with injuries will help but it’s definitely just as frustrating.

Is it encouraging to know that you have already come back from the injury to get your first career win?

It really gives me a lot of hope and it’s really encouraging to know that I have recovered from something pretty bad and I made it to the top. I know it’s possible again, but it takes a lot of hard work and time.

What's the rehab process like?

I had surgery about five and a half weeks ago and I am non-weight bearing still right now. I think hopefully another two to three weeks they will have me getting off crutches, so basically it’s going to be about eight weeks non-weight bearing. It kind of limits your therapy options, really. Now I am just trying to get my muscle control back and trying to keep my upper body in shape, doing some rowing, that kind of thing, trying to keep everything else going.

When are you hoping to get on snow?

November, depending on weather conditions in Colorado…maybe later in October if there is snow.

Do you have your eyes on Sochi next year?

Its definitely a different situation now; I’m going to have to work a lot harder and push myself a lot more, but it’s still my goal and it’s still a possibility. The rehab process has to go right. I can’t have any setbacks, really.

Would you recommend Global Rescue to other racers?

Definitely. This was my first experience with Global Rescue and I think it’s really important. When we go to Chile or some place like that, it’s not the same as it is here. Just having that peace of mind if something awful happens that Global Rescue is going to get things figured out and get you home as soon as possible. It’s really worth having it; you just never know what could happen, and when you are injured or hurt, the last thing you really want to be doing is trying to figure out the flight and how you are going to get home. Having someone else taking care of that is really nice.

Global Rescue is the Official Provider of aeromedical services to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team

 


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