Bryce Davison had hoped this season would make up for a disappointing Olympic campaign.
Little did he know it would be so much worse.
The pairs figure skater from Huntsville, Ont., is sidelined for the season after undergoing surgery to replace a broken bone chip in his knee. His partner, Jessica Dube of St-Cyrille-de-Wendover, Que., plans to compete in women's singles.
"It's definitely better timing than if it had happened last season, but it's still really disappointing," Davison told The Canadian Press in a phone interview from Huntsville. "We wanted to get out and have a good season after a little bit of disappointment last season. Any athlete will be frustrated by any injury no matter how long they're out, but if it's something that ends the season, it's very frustrating."
Davison and Dube, world bronze medallists in 2008, finished sixth at both the Vancouver Olympics and the world championships last season.
The two were training last month at the Granite Club in Toronto, just a week before Skate Canada International where they were the favourites to win gold, when his knee locked up while landing a jump.
Doctors discovered a three-centimetre fragment of bone had broken off where the thigh bone meets the knee, due to a condition called "osteochondritis dissecans."
His surgery on Oct. 26 entailed opening up his knee and quadriceps muscles to find the chip and then re-attaching it with a bone graft, a procedure that left a 10-inch scar that runs vertically from his lower thigh to the top of his shin.
The 24-year-old has to stay off his feet for three months, then it's another three months of intensive physiotherapy before he can even lace up his skates and get back on the ice. In the meantime, he's back home with his parents in Huntsville and is studying human anatomy and physiology through Athabasca University's online program.
"That's a lot of work so at least I have that to keep my mind occupied," he said.
Meanwhile Dube, who competed in both pairs and singles as a junior, will try to qualify for the Canadian championships as a singles skater.
Davison is optimistic he'll make a full recovery, although he has no examples of similar comebacks from which to draw inspiration.
"I've never heard of this injury before in athletes, although I'm sure it's happened," he said. "Most stuff, it's not the bone that gives out first it's the muscles. For me, it was the other way around."
Davison said the condition is actually quite common and often goes undiagnosed because the bone chips are small.
"Normally it's just a tiny little fracture that they go in and take out the piece of bone," he said. "Mine was so big that if I had kept going on it, the [thigh] bone would have kept eroding as it rubbed against the other bone."
Davison's injury is the biggest blow in a what's been a roller-coaster career for he and Dube, three-time Canadian champions. At the ISU Four Continents Championships in 2007, the two were doing side-by-side camel spins when Davison's blade sliced open Dube's face. The gash across her cheek and nose required more than 80 stitches to close, and the two were later treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
They rebounded the next season to win Skate America, finish second at Skate Canada, and capture bronze at the world championships.
Canada's figure skating team had already lost its top ice dancers for at least the majority of this season. Olympic gold medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir aren't competing on the Grand Prix circuit after Virtue underwent surgery on both legs last month.