Cook battles testy back, targets comeback


DEER VALLEY, Utah — The recent announcement that this year’s freestyle World Championships were being pushed back from January to March made the smile U.S. aerialist Emily Cook generally wears nonstop grow a bit bigger.
DEER VALLEY, Utah — The recent announcement that this year’s freestyle World Championships were being pushed back from January to March made the smile U.S. aerialist Emily Cook generally wears nonstop grow a bit bigger.
    Cook, the unquestioned leader of the U.S. women’s squad, a 10-year veteran of the team and a two-time Olympic qualifier, has been busy rehabbing a back injury she sustained last fall. The injury kept Cook from taking part in two aerials competition this week at the Chevy Freestyle International in her hometown, but she was out supporting her teammates on a cold and snowy Thursday night.
    Asked if it was difficult to watch and not compete, Cook said she hated being relegated to the bottom of the course and not jumping, but added that sitting out was the most prudent thing to do.
    “I love watching, obviously, because I love aerials, but it’s tough,” Cook said. “But [my coaches and I] talked about it, and I definitely wasn’t cleared to jump, but at the same time you don’t want to go out there and not do your best. You want to go out there and do the stuff you’ve trained and not back down. You never want to back down and do something that’s not to your potential just because you’re a little sore.
    “But with the stuff that’s going on with my back, it just wasn’t safe for me to jump yet, too big a risk.”
    Cook said her injury is centered around the L5, S1 area of her vertebrae and involves a disc problem that doctors feel is the result of Cook landing too many jumps on her right side. Cook said she also could have been favoring her previously injured left foot, thus compensating for that on her landings.
    “It’s pretty close to a stress fracture, and jumping on that would actually risk breaking or fracturing the bone, which just isn’t safe. I’d much rather get healthy,” Cook said.
    Cook competed in her first Olympic Games last season, but the 27-year-old had qualified for the 2002 Games before breaking both her feet in a pre-Olympics crash and missing the Games. She sat out all of the 2003 and ’04 seasons before returning in ’05 and registering four World Cup top 10s. She cranked that up to eight top 10s last season.
    With her sights set on competing in the 2010 Olympics, Cook said getting healthy and more experience in big events is paramount. If not for the change in the freestyle worlds schedule — it’s now set for March 5-11 in Italy — Cook likely would have missed the competition. Now she’s planning on taking part.
    “[The change] probably isn’t awesome for anyone else, but it gives me a little time to get strong, kind of rebuild and get ready for it,” she said.  

 

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