I love Lindsey Vonn. She’s a fantastic alpine skier, she always looks fabulous, and she is super friendly to her fans– taking time to talk give autographs to my daughter and her friends’ at Sugarloaf’s 2008 Alpine Championships. But when I said I wanted to be just like her, I didn’t mean I wanted to be at the Orthopedic Surgeon having my knee MRI’d at the same time as Lindsey. By now you have seen her horrific crash in Austria. I will spare you mine from a week ago in Colorado – it was far less spectacular, and much less televised.
I crashed and twisted my knee on day 4 of an 11 day Southwest Colorado ski trip. I went on to ski several runs each day on the gorgeous groomed soft snow at Crested Butte, Telluride, Purgatory at Durango, and Wolf Creek. But I knew something was very wrong, there was pain and a pervasive fear that my favorite activity was in jeopardy.
Suddenly I was able to relate to all those knee injured skiers before me, including most of the US Ski Team, my husband and daughter, and a good percentage of my ski friends. When I described my injury to a ski patrol, he was impressed by the fact that in 43 years of skiing (I started really young - 3) I had not had an injury.
Well, I'm no Lindsey Vonn, no illustrious race career hanging in the balance (I can still write about skiing). Lindsey tore her anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament, and fractured her tibia, scheduled for surgery in Vail, Colorado next week. I only fractured my tibia, thankfully no ligament damage or surgery for me. I am not comparing, nor am I pandering for sympathy - I will ski again this season. Still, I already miss skiing, badly.
I can only imagine Lindsey's longing to get back to training and skiing, and her frustration at how things can change in a fraction of a second. I know Lindsey's eyes are on the prize, competing for more Gold at next February's Sochi Olympics. I simply look forward to getting back to the skiing that I love.
Telluride Colorado - Heather Burke skiing with a broken knee, and at Wolf Creek, Photos by Greg Burke