Back on track
Updated: Nov 29, 2022
Returning to the team felt a lot like returning home. You know that relief you feel after a long journey, when you finally set foot through the front door and can dump your bags down? It felt like I'd finally made it back to where I belonged. Of course, this was by no means the end of my journey but rather the beginning.
I thought it would feel strange putting my race skis on again for the first time after my crash but I think I'd built the moment up so much in my head that the 182cm skis actually felt kind of small when I clicked my boots in. I did a lot of that all week - building things up in my head - everything I did felt pretty momentous and I'm not surprised. The place we were staying in in Austria happened to be the first ever hotel I'd stayed in with the British team all those years ago and the mountain I was training on also happened to be the host of the first ever official FIS skicross race I competed in, so I was pretty emotional to say the least. That's probably why I had a little meltdown on the first morning about my DIN settings... Everything just felt pretty significant. All that recovery time had lead to this moment.
I was a lot more nervous than I had anticipated being and it took me a bit of time to warm up to doing my first start section. I don't think it helped that there were 100s of other athletes there because, naturally, I was convinced that they'd all be looking at me. But I did it. And then I did it again. And again. Admittedly, I did it quite poorly but I think I can forgive myself, given that it was my first day back.
Next was hitting a jump for the first time. I wasn't really sure how I was going to feel, as messing up a jump was how I injured myself and I was worried that I'd chicken out at the last minute. I wasn't worried about the jump itself - it was more the fear that I would feel scared at the last second and end up speedchecking the jump instead of just going for it. So, I pointed my skis downhill, got into a tuck and hoped for the best. Surprise surprise, I was fine. I went pretty big actually and landed quite hard but I didn't hear a peep from my leg so I couldn't ask for much more. There'd been a voice in the back of my mind for weeks questioning, 'what if my leg isn't strong enough' or 'what if I land badly on my bad leg' and it was nice to put those thoughts to rest.
It was great to have the support of my team as well, I'm lucky in that we're all the best of friends and I know that they've been rooting for my comeback just as much as I have. I was with people I knew and whatever happened, they all had my back. I feel good now having made that first step and I'm eager to get stuck back into skicross fully. Bring on the next training block.