Whistler's Julia Murray was hoping to be back on skis in time for Christmas, but team doctors for Canada Ski Cross say it will probably be January before she'll even be able to take turns on the mountain.
It's a longer recovery than she expected, but she's making the most of it by taking a Communications diploma at Capilano College in between trips to the gym. But her second knee injury in as many years has taught her to be patient.
"Last time I rushed back and I blew (my knee) again, so I'm going to take the time this time and be really patient," she said. "Hopefully I can do some freeskiing by January and I'll keep checking in with the doctor each month until I get a 'yes.'"
Murray confirmed that will not be competing in ski cross this year, but hopes to be back up in the lineup for the 2012-2013 season — an Olympic qualifier season and a world championship year.
Murray first injured her knee competing in the run-up to the 2010 Games, and although she was able to compete in the Olympics she required surgery immediately afterward. The next season she came back stronger and faster than ever, but re-injured the knee at X Games in January — an event that injured pretty much all of her teammates in one way or another, including Olympic champion Ashleigh McIvor. McIvor his hoping to return to the World Cup team in the New Year, but is also waiting for clearance from her doctors.
"I had an MRI after X Games and they didn't see that my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) was completely torn, they just saw the cartilage damage," she said. "So they just drained the knee and gave me cortisone, and I raced the next week at the world champs with a pretty sore knee."
Despite the injury she placed second at the world championships a week later, behind teammate Kelsey Serwa — herself banged up and bruised after crashing over the final jump at X Games en route to the win.
A week after Murray raced at Blue Mountain in Ontario, placing 10th. That's when it became apparent that she was more injured than the initial scan revealed. Another scan was completed, confirming that her ACL was torn and cartilage would have to be replaced through a process called Microfracture, which will regrow the cartilage between her tibia and femur.
"There was two centimetres square (of cartilage) gone, so it was pretty much bone on bone, and the meniscus was gone from the last injury. At the X Games I landed pretty hard and just bashed the two (bones) together."
Murray said some days are better than others, but overall her knee is improving.
"It's getting better every day, though it's definitely a slow process," she said. "I've been going to the gym with team trainer Craig Hill lots, and biking down in the city, which is good for the knee. I'm still working towards a full range of motion when I squat with weights, and as soon as I can do that I can go skiing."
Race season underway
The healthy members of the team warmed up at the Western Canadian Ski Cross Showdown at Nakiska last week, with Kelsey Serwa topping the women's race, followed by Georgia Simmerling and Whistler's Marielle Thompson. Simmerling skied with the national alpine ski team last season, but shifted over to ski cross this season.
The top three men were Dave Duncan, followed by Tristan Tafel, Brady Leman and Nick Zoricic, while Whistler's Davey Barr won the small final.