Team Larisa: Year One

I'm home now.  My armour is off and I'm staring at my computer screen trying to find witty and profound ways of sharing my second half of the season.

My last post was news of my Olympic qualification.  That was a proud moment.  After the chaos of a good result, I got back to my room, put my nighty on and called home.  Calling home has been a saving grace this year.  Sometimes I call home and have pillow talk with Mom.. sometimes I call home and just listen to my parents argue about the volume of the tv.. sometimes I have a nice chat with one of my brothers and just watch him pet the cat the whole time.  But it's always lovely.

After I had qualified for Sochi, Kurt and I went to some more races.  We wanted to keep ramping up and building momentum towards the Games.  We traveled to Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy for the next World Cup speed week.  I was quoted saying, "I don't think anyone is preparing for the Olympics by staying home and resting."  Sometimes, I think I'm so smart.  During the first of the four races planned in Cortina, I landed off a jump and made a mental note that I didn't like the way that felt.  After finishing the race, I knew I had to get out of there.  One of the Italian coaches caught me crying behind one of the portables but otherwise, I made it out discreetly.  In the next 24 hours, I had three medical opinions, an MRI and a handful of homeopathic injections.  Ironically, I prepared for the Games by 'staying home and resting'.  I added 10 days off snow to 1 day of gate training to equal my Olympic preparation.  Initially, I was devastated.  The dejavu of being injured before the Games again was almost too much to handle.  But everyone said nothing they felt in my knee would keep me from going.  So Kurt kept me very focused on looking ahead in the most confident way possible.  I really believed that I would win medals for Canada.

In the end, I haven't performed to my potential since qualifying for the Games.  Even with filling my belly full of drugs, I couldn't override the distrust in my health.  I felt like I was racing this past month with the E-brake on.. 

Finally, Kurt and I decided to call it quits after the last race in Switzerland and find out just exactly why my knee was still upset with me.  I mean, my knee and I made a deal for the Games but there were no promises for any races after..  

It's three days later and I've closed the season.  I miss my coach, I miss skiing with a clear mind, I miss feeling athletic enough to slide around on hardwood floors with sock feet.. But shit's gonna get real soon.  I have surgery on March 20 to reconstruct my MCL and clean up the medial meniscus.  I needed to put my body first this season but I needed to run Team Larisa more first.  Unfortunately, I was abusive to my body with such a non-stop program for the last year and, additionally, I wasn't able to hire a therapist.  I feel grateful that, nonetheless, I was able to have an experience that changed my life.  

...Before you assume that I'm feeling some sort of reflective closure, you're wrong.  I'm hungry.  I mean, I need to eat some lunch.. but even after lunch, I'll still be hungry.  Kurt and I have a program that is solid and growing into something very powerful.  I understand the risk and I understand the reward.  I feel very confident that after my body gets this tune-up, I will be in a place to accomplish much more than before.  I will need the help of some substantial and excited partners in order to keep my health as a priority and go full steam ahead with my founding member, Kurt Mayr :)

This season, I qualified for the Olympic Winter Games and I went from being ranked 77th in the World to 12th in four races.  I qualified for World Cup Finals for the first time in my career.  Besides an Olympic medal, I accomplished everything I set out to do.  And most important, my heart developed into something tough and soft.. tough because I learned to handle obstacles with as much grace as possible and soft because when it was time to feel, I felt.

I don't know what the next few months will bring.. other than some armpit chafe from crutches and quite a few naps.  But I know exactly where I stand with my passion for sport and, for me, that's the point.. 

I did weigh my options.  But it became clear to me immediately after the surgeon told me the news.. because I was already counting on my fingers in my coat pocket how many months away I could start skiing again.

Thank you for following my journey and believing so deeply in what I attempted to do this season.  

Here's to the time of our lives.

Love love love.