Injury and Competition – How I’m doing
I always felt like injuries were life’s way of teaching us to appreciate the little things. Walking. Carrying a cup of tea from point A to B. Sleeping without pain. Swimming.
After 3 blown-out knees, I had learned that lesson well. But apparently not well enough. Or maybe it’s not a life lesson and I am just one of the unluckier people out there? Who knows. I try to ask “why?” as little as possible, knowing I don’t have a good answer. At least not at this stage of my injury.
How it happened
It was one of the most amazing Breckenridge pre-seasons in a long time, maybe ever. Great jumps from day 1, decent amounts of snow and perfect temperatures. Riding went extremely well; I was progressing and felt strong going into the first Olympic Slopestyle season of all time… everything was perfect until I heard and felt my Achilles tendon snap when landing hard and slightly sideways on December 1.
I instantly split into two personalities; Survival-Silvia who called her doctor while still laying face down in the snow, and Suicide-Silvia who just saw her big season shattered into a million pieces, paralyzedly laying there without any energy to move.
Survival-Silvia did a good job – fighting with insurance to get surgery the next day, having the ripped Achilles tendon stitched back together, and after a hospital night I was back home in Breck – with a cast and crutches for the rest of 2013. Suicide-Silvia was shut off by pain and painkillers, thinking that there was no alternative other than accepting the things I could not change.
While all my friends were just arriving for Dew Tour, I had taken myself out before the first practice. There was an empty space when I let those thoughts creep closer to me. I watched as much of Dew Tour as I could; it was a great event and I loved seeing friends ride well, coming back from injuries, following their paths towards the Olympics…but there was nothing I could do to ease the pain in my heart that kept telling me “You were supposed to be one of them.”
Sometimes suicide-Silvia comes out of her cage and tells me to rip off my cast, tape my foot, close the boot real tight, drive over to where the Olympic qualifier World Cup is currently happening, to do just one run, to stubbornly prove medicine, rationality and life wrong.
But then I catch her, give her a hug and put her back in bed saying it’s nothing but a bad dream. I tell her about Spanish-speaking beaches and warm-water waves until she falls back asleep. I know it will be a long night with a lot more dreams to come. Good and bad dreams that fill the hole that’s been exposed in my heart when a half square inch of my fairy tale-believing body gave out while landing too hard in reality.
– Silvia Mittermüller
Silvia is a member of the Breck Epic Team.