I write this having returned from the USA a few days ago. This season was nothing short of a massive rollercoaster ride. Both mentally and physically. I had moments of sheer adrenaline rush as I skied through tight trees, found my absolute need for speed, discovered my love for snowmobiling (more on that later), and got big air on some decent sized jumps. I also had moments of despair, feelings of isolation and anxiety as well as real doubts about myself.
I went out to the States determined to 'find my fun' and to reignite the love of skiing, having become a bit despondent about it, I am happy to say that the love is definitely back, particularly for free skiing which I was fortunate enough to get a fair bit of towards the end of the season.
My trip to California came at a perfect time. I had sustained an arm injury which transpired to be along the lines of 'repetitive strain injury' or 'tennis elbow' which sounds a little lame, given everything. It started as a niggling pain but as my trip approached became complete agony. I do not exaggerate when I say it is the worst pain I have ever been in (that I can remember - as that doesn't include breaking my back!) So I spent the first week in the gorgeous Carlsbad keeping sedentary, dosed up on painkillers, and trying to get through it. This experience has given me a massive amount of respect for all those suffering with chronic pain. It is often a side-effect of disability and I know a few people who really struggle with it; so often without complaining. To suffer like that was debilitating and devastating. It was really hard to get anything done and I was so lucky to be staying in a very accessible house with my friend Kalim (he rents his places out so anyone interested in staying in one of the best places on the planet, in my experience, do get in touch) who was incredibly kind, generous and thoughtful about my situation. He himself struggles with terrible pain so was very empathetic. I was given ibuprofen injections which helped, and then acupuncture too which made a big difference. The pain is much better now, although it still hurts to lift things. It was definitely time to come home when I did.
So, rather than a lament for my pain, I write this as a nod of respect who all those who suffer from pain, and often in silence. Props to you guys.
I spent a fair bit of time with my good friend Beth out there who has finished her ski racing career after having to have two back surgeries in a year. We have a lot in common, namely our love of skiing, but also our love of adventure and travel (as well as both being in wheelchairs, injured the same year). She came back from Bali fairly recently and had a brilliant time. I've been longing to go there for years so was interested to hear all about it. Chatting about this stuff, we both realised we wanted to do the same sort of thing. We wanted to travel and adventure, but on top of that we also wanted to share the experiences we're fortunate enough to have with the world, with the aim to inspire others and break down people's perceptions of disability. So, over coffee and breakfast burritos, Our Adaptive World was born.
This season I didn't race. I wasn't in the right headspace for it and feel like it would have done me more harm than good. I did, however, find my love of skiing, skied a lot and improved loads. I injured myself more than once. I battled demons, but started a new chapter of my life with Our Adaptive World. I found my new absolute favourite thing in the world in the form of snowmobiling. I went cross-country skiing. I went to San Diego and fell in love with the place once again, despite immense pain. I caught up with old friends and met some amazing new ones. After an incredible final week and a last day skiing 12 inches of powder I was sad to leave but am also glad to return home. I'm glad of the NHS right now to sort my arm, amongst other things, out and of British food! Although CA cuisine is pretty special - no offence Winter Park, but you are no culinary hotspot!
A huge thank you to all those who supported me and my season. I'm sorry I do not return with some race results and I hope you understand that I had to put my head first and do what was right for me at the time.
We've already written a number of blog posts about our recent adventures so please do check our Our Adaptive World. We are both really excited and have some great plans in the pipeline! We're going for the top!