American speed skier Breezy Johnson was feeling stronger than ever, returning to snow and tackling 2019-20 prep period camps, when she sustained a left knee injury during a training camp at official training site Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in California, forcing Johnson to once more rehab before she can return to the FIS Ski World Cup circuit.
On June 13, Johnson tore her left posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) after catching an edge and crashing hard in giant slalom training. Johnson missed the 2019 season due to a right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear sustained in September 2019, working tirelessly in the gym to get strong and return to snow.
Throughout her rehab, she chronicled the highs and lows of the experience in a series entitled “Patient Notes.”
During the 2018 season, Johnson had more success than ever. Of her 15 downhill and super-G starts, she was in the points 10 times, top-15 five times, top-10 four times, and narrowly missed her first podium in Garmisch, Germany, finishing in fourth place. At her first Olympic bid in PyeongChang, South Korea, she grabbed a solid 14th-place result in super-G and a seventh in the downhill. Incredible results for the first-time Olympian.
Never one to mince their words, Johnson’s feelings about the injury are poignant and powerful.
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Devastated, gutted, shattered. These adjectives don’t do justice to how I’m feeling right now. Training GS last week I randomly caught an edge, crashed hard, and tore my PCL and MCL. This wasn’t the leg that sustained an ACL tear last September. I honestly do not believe that it had anything to do with my injury from last year. I just had some absolutely sh*t luck. Again. ▪️ I’ve already said I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. This injury disproves that hard work always pays off. I am lucky enough to have resources to help me overcome this injury. But trying to find meaning in what happened doesn’t do justice to the awfulness of the situation. It sucks; I won’t lie. ▪️ I just returned from my ACL. I put everything I had into that recovery. I don’t mean this as a brag; I don’t mean this to criticize anyone else rehabbing, but I feel a bit like I worked harder on that ACL recovery than anyone ever has. And let me tell you it was NOT easy. And this one will require even more. I already know this. And though I know everyone wants to say ‘you’ve already done this, you can do it again!’ To be honest this doesn’t help me, it even terrifies me a bit. Because I was, I am, still worried I can’t. I just had a somewhat miraculous ACL recovery, I was back on snow at four months, skiing gates at five and a half, skiing downhill 7 months after surgery. And more than that I felt good doing it. I knew I was stronger and hungrier than ever. And though I hope beyond hope I can do it again I will make no guarantees about returning quickly or well (at least in the short term). I learned from this injury that there‘s a lot of work involved, there’s a lot to do with the amazing staff and the great support, but there’s also a bit of luck involved. ▪️ But what I do know is that there’s no going back. There’s only through. And I love this sport so I’ll give it everything I have, and more. And I ask that rather than telling me that I will do it again, say, ‘when you feel like you can’t, I’ll be here. When you need that extra bit of strength, take some of mine.’ And maybe, maybe then, I can, we can, defy the odds one more time, and set new records on what can be accomplished.
Johnson will undergo surgery next Tuesday, and then will begin the long, arduous road to recovery. Again, she is incredibly thankful to the community for the support and wants everyone to know – from sponsors to fans and beyond – that she will return. Stay tuned here and to Johnson’s Instagram for frequent updates from Johnson as she experiences the highs and lows of returning to the mountain.
Release courtesy of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.