Broderick Thompson was feeling confident heading into the 2018-19 FIS World Cup campaign.
Coming off two top-20 finishes in the prior season, including an eighth in the Alpine combined in Bormio, Italy, he was regularly skiing on par, or faster, than his teammates and he was eagerly awaiting bombing down the Lake Louise slopes in the lone World Cup on Canadian soil.
But it wasn't to be.
While training downhill at Nakiska Ski Area the week before Lake Louise, Thompson crashed at what he estimates was 120 kilometres per hour, suffering a dislocated knee, tore ACL, MCL, LCL, and a completely ruptured patella tendon.
"Before I injured myself, I was quite competitive in training, winning a lot of runs, and as it happened, I was like, 'OK, this is going to be a while until I'm going to ski again,'" he said. "It goes from being on top of the world to planning on what you're going to do the next day to get better."
The 25-year-old was off snow for more than a year, but recently returned, training at Panorama Mountain Resort for a month before he'll be reassessed.
"It felt like I hadn't ridden a bike in a year. You wonder if you're going to be able to keep it upright or if your joints are going to withstand the forces of skiing, because it's such a foreign thing," he said. "I can do all the squats I want in the gym but skiing is so foreign to the human body that you have to ski to get better at skiing, and you have to ski to make your body feel normal again.
"The first day, I was a little unsure, but as I progressed throughout the day, I began to feel like I hadn't missed a beat."
Thompson said he hadn't been away from snow for more than two months since he was an infant, and credited his doctors and coaches for helping him back to where he is now.
"I was spending a lot of time with physios in the gym, five to six days a week for pretty much a year straight," he said. "I didn't take very many breaks, so it was a lot of commitment, but it felt like it went by fast because I could see the goal was skiing again.
"I feel like I can push it now on snow and I'm excited to start skiing in gates again."
While it was upsetting and frustrating to be away from the sport he loves, Thompson sought to make the most of it, embracing his time at home and spending time with his family. Thompson said as he recovered, he took part in hobbies that he usually reserves only for the offseason, such as woodworking and fishing.
"The biggest thing was just having an end goal in mind," he said. "Being at home all year was all right. I got the best of it. I had an open mind; once I was hurt, I was hurt, so what else was I going to be able to do?
"It's not often you get to be there at Christmas and New Year's and throughout the whole year."
Thompson said he watched every race in 2018-19, and has caught much of this season's action as well as his teammates have enjoyed success at the world's best level.
He's eager to joining them all again next winter.
"I'll probably end up doing a couple race simulations by the end of the season, but not race World Cup until next season," he said. "I'm focused on getting back, and we'll see how it goes by the end of the month. The plan is to get strong and get back to where I was before the injury."