Blessing In Disguise
“It was a blessing in disguise”, says alpine ski racer Marie-Michèle Gagnon when reflecting on her injuries sustained months before representing Canada at her third Olympic Games after crashing on her training run in Lake Louise in October 2017.
An MRI taken the next day concluded a cleanly torn ACL, a common injury for this sport, however Gagnon also suffered a torn labrum in her shoulder.
“I know the risk of my sport, especially with speed events, and I understand that injuries are part of it. Almost all skiers that I know have had severe knee injuries so it’s almost a rite of passage in our sport,” she acknowledged.
While it was tough to watch some of the events that she couldn’t attend due to her injury, with the Olympic Games being one, a World Cup is just as important for her.
“It’s the same group of competitors, if not more at a World Cup compared to an Olympic Games; the one difference could be the fame associated with the Olympic Games and the more attention it receives, but I’m not skiing for that,” explains Gagnon.
“As a kid, I just wanted to be the best skier in the world. I knew that the Olympics was part of that, but I just wanted to do really well as a skier. And that’s why I continue to ski.”
Despite the disappointment of missing her third Games, Gagnon stayed optimistic. “Obviously missing the Olympics was upsetting but I ended that season on a high because I was skiing so fast and showing good promise on the speed, so I saw it as a blessing in disguise.” As a 2-time Olympic slalom event competitor, Gagnon shifted her focus to downhill, the fastest-paced race of the alpine skiing events.
The eight-month recovery meant Marie-Michele could not only spend more time in one place and with her family, but also give her the time to relight the fire inside of her as she began her rehabilitation journey with CSI Calgary and R2P Code. She made the temporary move to Calgary to work with some of the best sport science professionals in the business.
“I was really focused on my recovery. My team at CSI Calgary was so supportive and I was so comfortable working with them. I trusted them because I know how hard they work.”
She says she heavily relied on her testing results to give her the clearance and confidence she needed to return to her sport safely.“Even after a few weeks [of testing] I saw so much improvement because I know the training and the effort I put into building up my strength and the dedication my team put into me was really working and paying off. Seeing my R2P Code testing results helped me focus on exactly the areas I needed to improve on, and it gave me guidance and motivation to keep working in the right direction.”
And in the right direction she goes, as fast as ever.