Kyle Negomir was ready to make a name for himself this season.
The 22-year-old B-Team athlete had a strong performance at the opening U.S. national championships and FIS races at Copper Mountain, finishing among the top five Americans on top of a super-G win. After a remarkable downhill training run at the opening World Cup in Val d’Isere, France, finishing as the top American in eighth-place, Negomir fell crossing the finish line, sustaining an MCL, ACL, three broken metacarpals in his hand, and a separated shoulder — all on the right side of his body.
Negomir was named to the U.S. C Team in 2019. The Denver native grew up skiing part time between Copper and Loveland until he joined Ski & Snowboard Club Vail full-time at the age of 16. Negomir quickly rose to the top of domestic FIS and national rankings, capturing U19 and U21 national championship titles, and the NorAm overall.
When Negomir slid into the start gate for his downhill training run in the Val d’Isere, the fear of injury or crashing was not on his mind. Negomir accepts the risk and consequences of skiing downhill at the World Cup level, a risk that comes willingly as he pursues his dreams. Injuries will go hand in hand in pursuit of his childhood dreams. It’s a reality that prevails over alternative thoughts of sitting behind a desk for a full time job. On Dec. 10, Negomir was ready to execute his best skiing and get in striking distance to score his first World Cup points — which he did — until an unfortunate and unpredictable crash just after crossing the finish line.
“You know the risk when you sign on to ski downhill at the World Cup level, you know this is kinda what comes with the job and you get hurt every now and then,” said Negomir. “It was just a freak thing where I caught an edge. You do this a million times, one of them is bound to go wrong. It was just one of those uncontrollable things at the wrong place and wrong time.”
Negomir hit the ground and compressed the entire right side of his body, sustaining season-ending injuries that would require five surgeries in total to mend. Patiently waiting for the swelling to dissipate in his hand before flying back to the states, Negomir stayed closely intertwined with his teammates, cheering them on and watching them race. After a mostly normal flight home, with missing ski bags a highlight of the trip, Negomir underwent the first four of his surgeries, three within seven days. As Negomir started his first rounds of physical therapy in Vail, somber news from Europe flooded his phone.
“It’s definitely tough to see Tommy (Ford), Sam DuPratt, and all my friends go down, and you start to realize and wish it wasn’t such a prevalent part of the sport,” said Negomir. “To be honest I was pretty bummed for the first day, but you kind of expect pretty quickly this is part of the job. But just watching your teammates get hurt every week, it’s brutal.”
Feeling empathy for his teammates, yet grateful his own injury didn’t come in an Olympic year, Negomir is generally positive and focused on the road ahead. While his knee was a fairly routine ACL/MCL injury, dating his return to snow in late August, Negomir is fortunate to have ample time for his hand and shoulder to heal.
“A lot of bones in my hand were broken,” said Negomir. “I’ve had three total hand surgeries, with the last one on Feb. 4. They took a bone graft out of my forearm to rebuild this bone in my thumb, and my wrist has pins through it while the bone sets. So, we are going to take those out.”
In the meantime, Negomir continues to watch every race and talk to his teammates daily, as if he never left. After his final surgery he will return to the Center of Excellence in Park City for rehabilitation and physical therapy.
As far as his lack of mobility on the right side of his body, there’s a challenge that continues to bring a smile and laugh to his face — crutching. “Yep, it sure makes crutching around super fun,” he joked.