Injury isn't a Stranger in Ski Racing
Hi everyone! My name is Storm Klomhaus and I am a US alpine skier. I am excited to talk a little bit today about injury, its inevitable existence in ski racing, and how it has made me better.
A little bit about me and my experiences with injury - I just underwent my 3rd knee surgery since October, which was my 3rd ACL reconstruction and my 8th knee surgery in total. 4 years ago while I was skiing NCAA for the University of Denver, I blew out my knee for the first time. It was not dramatic at all, I didn’t crash or catch anything. I was just about to finish a race and felt pain, then slowly stopped.
I got my first ACL reconstruction a few weeks later. A few months later, a MRSA infection was found in the surgical joint and my first ACL reconstruction failed. This led to multiple surgeries to scrape the infection out and remove the ACL graft. I had a PICC line and daily antibiotic injections for 6 weeks to fully eliminate the infection before getting my 2nd ACL reconstruction. I made a full recovery and returned to skiing better than ever.
Fast forward 4 years, while training for the first World Cup of the year in Solden, Austria, I blew out my knee. Again, nothing dramatic happened - I hit some weird snow, felt pain, and tipped over. I feel lucky none of my injuries or crashes have been traumatic. Unfortunately, due to my previous reconstructions and infection, this injury requires a 13-month recovery and 3 surgeries. Some of the circumstances related to my injuries have been unlucky due to the infection, but luckily it hasn’t affected me or my career in the bigger picture. Today, my 3 surgeries are behind me, and have 7 months left until I get back on snow!
I just made the US Ski Team last April, so I was only on the team half a year before my season ended. Although it was a tough way to start out on a new team, I keep reminding myself that this could have happened before I ever made the US Team. If I wasn’t on the national team or a colligate team, I would be on my own returning to sport. Lots of athletes do this, but the road to recovery seems a lot longer and more daunting alone. I think just knowing I’d have support coming back is a big reason I wasn’t totally crushed by this injury. Either way, I know I can come back better than ever again, and I think that’s true for anyone with season-ending circumstances.
Injuries happen in ski racing. Every person I know at my level or higher has had some sort of forced time off snow due to injury. I don’t feel bad for myself, and every time I have gotten hurt has humbled me and made me a better athlete and person. I think this can be true for everyone who doesn’t let it become a negative thing. For me, injury has only strengthened my love and drive for the sport. It is easy to take advantage of what we get to do and the places we get to travel to, and all of this has made me appreciate every moment of it. It had also made me value my whole support crew that much more, including my friends, teammates, and coaches who have been there through every surgery this year.
WCDF and T2 have supported my career through all my injuries and different teams over the past 9 years. Without them, there is a good chance I wouldn’t have been able to continue ski racing due to its financial realities a long time ago, which is way scarier to me than any possibility of injury. The support from WCDF and T2 has helped me get back on snow every time and keeps my dream going, which is invaluable and appreciated more than I could ever say. I just hope to give back and pay it forward in my ski racing career.
Thank you all for reading! I am going to hit my rehab hard and will be back and better before you know it. :) A quick closing note - I am fundraising to help fund my unexpected medical bills from the previous surgeries this year if interested click the link below!