Alice McKennis of Glenwood Springs has put things in perspective when it comes to ending her World Cup ski season right before the Sochi Winter Olympics.
An excerpt from the blog on her Web page, www.alicemckennis.com, showed that.
“‘It might not be your fairytale ending right now, but who’s to say you won’t get your fairytale ending down the road?’ My teammate Stacey Cook said that to me the other day when I told her I would not be racing for the rest of the season. I certainly hope she is right!”
McKennis has decided to wait to attempt to return to the Olympics until 2018, opting to sit out the remainder of the World Cup ski season to continue her recovery from a shattered tibial plateau.
The 2010 Olympian announced last week that she will opt out of a chance at the winter games next month in Sochi, Russia, and instead focus on returning to full strength for the 2015 World Cup season and the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships to be held at Beaver Creek in February of next year. The decision came after complications from surgery she had earlier this year to repair the tibial plateau. She shattered the bone in her right leg into more than 30 pieces during World Cup competition in Garmisch, Germany, in March 2013.
McKennis made her return to snow this past October and had hoped to be at full strength in time for this year’s Olympics.
“I still have a lot of pain in my lower leg and that’s affected a lot of muscles in that area, and that’s affecting my power. In order to race World Cup at a safe and competitive level you need to be at or pretty close to 100 percent, and I know that I’m not there now,” she said last week. “It’s pretty heartbreaking to miss Sochi, but I’ve already been to an Olympics, and I’ve already participated. When I go to the Olympics next time, I want to be a contender, and I want to know that I have a shot at a medal. Right now, I don’t feel like I have that shot.”
McKennis had also returned to the World Cup tour for the mid-December speed series in Val d’Isere, France. She placed 43rd in downhill there. Last year, just weeks prior to her injury she had won a World Cup downhill in St. Anton and was on track for Olympic contention.
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association reported that McKennis will have the plate and screws from the original surgery removed from her right leg later this month and immediately turn her attention to gaining strength for the 2015 season.
“She made a very mature and smart decision to get strong and come back when she’s physically in a position to be competitive,” U.S. women’s speed coach Chip White said. “She’s worked extremely hard all summer and her focus has been on doing everything she can to qualify for the Olympics. She was way ahead of schedule with rehab and impressed everyone. She did all the right things, but it was a severe injury, and that takes a long time to heal.”
McKennis harbored no regrets in calling off her run to Sochi, noting that her overall health was more important than making a run for a gold medal.
“I have pushed everything as hard as I could to get back on snow months before anyone anticipated, pushed myself to get back in gates and racing, but one thing I can no longer push is my body,” she said on her Web page. “I have reached a point where the issues in my leg caused by the plate and 11 screws in my leg are preventing me from reaching the level of skiing I need to be at to be a contender this season and to be part of the Olympic team.
“As much as I want to continue racing this season and risk everything, I have realized that my career and life isn’t just about Sochi,” she continued. “I have many years left ski racing and a career I hope to have in the ski industry when I retire, and it does not make sense to put everything on the line for something I am not ready for.”