BY ASHLEY CALDWELL
My teammates and I at the top of the hill in the Bird’s Nest stadium in China!! (Alli Lee, Kiley McKinnon, Madison Olsen)
Well, the four years since my first Olympic Winter Games have been turbulent to say the least. While I can’t complain about being a freestyle skier for a living, it is tough to train your entire life only to have your plans changed by injuries (plus, injuries hurt your mind just as much as your body!) Fortunately for me, I was able to heal and overcome my injuries to be stronger and better than I was before. I tore my first ACL in 2012 and 363 days later tore my other one. I felt betrayed by my own body, but now I sit in Park City, Utah, getting ready to start my second Olympic camp!
Coming off of two years of injury was a little scary. I had not competed in so long that I worried I might not have the same competitive skills I did before. Our first Olympic qualifying event was in China this year. I masked my nerves by focusing and voicing my excitement for getting back on the competitive circuit. I kept saying, “I’m competing in a WORLD CUP!!!!!!” Focusing on the fact that I had made it back from two injuries to be on the world cup circuit helped ease the fact that I didn’t know if I still had what it would take to be a world-class athlete. I enjoyed my time training and competing in China, and I ended up landing on the podium my first event back!
That first event in China gave me the result I needed to make the Olympic Team for the second time in my career. At 20, I feel very fortunate to be headed to my second Olympics! I can’t wait to represent my country again! For the past four years, I had been anxiously awaiting the moment when I would find out if I qualified for the Games. My coach called me this time as I rode up the chairlift of Deer Valley with my teammate. I was so unbelievably happy, but the moment was also bittersweet. I found out that several of my teammates who had been along side me, supporting me through my injuries and milestones, would not be beside me in Sochi. On the surface, freestyle skiing is an individual sport. But on the inside, it takes a team and a large support staff to do what we do. And a big chunk of that is having friends at the top of the hill supporting you and encouraging you. While I’m terribly sad to know that some of them won’t be in Sochi with me, I know that their encouraging words and support helped me get back and I can’t thank them enough.
You can also follow my journey on Twitter: @AshleySkis