Kelly VanderBeek is training on the mountains of Chile in preparation for her return to the World Cup alpine skiing circuit. (Photo courtesy Kelly VanderBeek)
Everyone loves a good comeback story. But how long is our attention span, and what defines a comeback? Does it only take shape once old glory is found again, or can it take different forms?
I have many questions in this realm as I face my own comeback
head on. I'm starting to realize that true comebacks are made up of a million small victories, unseen and unsung. It's those small victories that give you the power to continue, to take that next step.
Still, we all love to cheer victors to glory, a glory that is ever sweeter with challenges overcome. That dream is a part of what keeps me going, along with my love for sport and its community.
I'm currently in Chile for my first official on-snow training camp of the season. It's here that I'm taking my first turns towards my comeback from knee surgery
. So far, I've skied six days and have started to get more comfortable. Today, in fact, I felt like I graduated from being a ski instructor to a ski racer - by that I mean I started to add some power into my turns. It was an incredible feeling, and one I've missed.
If you want to see me in action, here's a short video
of me skiing here in Chile.Finding my legs
Save for my old teammate Larisa Yurkiw, everything in my environment is new: new coaches, new athletes, new technicians, new physiotherapist... this new group has been a good catalyst for helping me feel like this is the "fresh start" I was hoping for. This is a strong group of professionals and I feel a sense of excitement in the work we're doing.
Medically, I've made a strong comeback
to be doing what I'm doing. Yet this feels incomplete, as I have big dreams and the heart of a racer, yearning to find my legs again.
I have spoken with many alpine athletes who have travelled this comeback path, trying to learn from their experiences and draw strength from their successes. This has helped me see my own journey with some perspective and appreciation of my dream to ski race, as well as life after sport.
At the end of the day I'm an optimist who lies in realism. Looking back, and looking ahead, I try to keep my eyes wide open, facing all the good, bad, and ugly. All while trying to keep my spirit well nurtured because this is an extremely long road trip.
It's an odd place to be emotionally. In my head I have all the aggression, energy and motivation to find my way back to the World Cup podium. But one thing I know for sure - there's still a ski racer inside me dying to get out. I look forward to when my body and mind are once again on the same page, and that page is going 140km/h with strength and confidence down a mountain.
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