Journey Back to the World Cup: Injury Recovery
In September 2017, Meagan Brown joined Canadian National Alpine Skier, Ali Nullmeyer’s team, traveling with Team Nullmeyer on the World Cup Circuit. Unfortunately, Ali’s season came to an abrupt end when she suffered a season ending injury – bilateral Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears, as well as lateral meniscus root damage – just four weeks into her training.
After a long offseason of recovery, Team Nullmeyer decided to begin their quest to compete at the World Cup again in October 2018. Meagan outlines the experience of this past season below:
In October 2018, Team Nullmeyer made the decision to head back to the snow full-time with the ultimate goal of getting Ali back to the World Cup. We were now well aware of the risks of this sport and ready to start the ride again! I would have never guessed what a success this season on snow would be. I knew how much work Ali and the Team had put in leading up to this new adventure but to think about where we started and where we are now, it is, simply put, incredible.
This season’s decisions on where to train were one of the many qualms we dealt with as we were trying to eliminate risk based on: snow conditions, weather, and run difficulty. By starting in the Canadian Rockies, we were able to get Ali back on snow slowly, meticulously ensuring the execution of proper technique, reducing risk, and concentrating on the fundamentals to help her return to sport and – ultimately – competition. We ended up in Vermont next, and, by the end of this block, decided it was the right time to head to Europe to chase the races.
After arriving in Europe, Ali trained on 16 different hills in 4 different countries and competed in 12 races, including the Alpine Junior World Ski Championships. Due to Ali’s success in her races, we were presented with the opportunity to achieve our original goal: competing at the World Cup! Without hesitation, we made plans to head to the World Cup in Spindler Mlyn, Czech Republic. Ali’s fierce drive for success and Team Nullmeyer’s support ultimately panned out, proving that with enough motivation and support, an athlete can make it back to elite competition from a double ACL and meniscus tear repair within 18 months.
During this season (and all our new experiences), I learned that in order to be successful, one must maintain strong mental fortitude, and be ready to adapt to any situation. We paid close attention to Ali’s physical and mental state all season long, in order to mitigate risk to determine whether she could perform and compete as an elite-level athlete. We faced many challenges, but we took the right steps at the right times and that got us to where we are now.
Ali has decided to start school in September at Middlebury College and has once again been named to Team Canada. She plans to continue her ski career in the World Cup while working on her education! This experience was incredible and we could not have done it without the support of family, friends, and colleagues, along with the motivation to succeed. I look forward to being back at the Sport Medicine Clinic and continuing to follow Ali’s journey.
Meagan Brown, Certified Athletic Therapist & Registered Massage Therapist, Sport Medicine Clinic