She was skiing a mogul run. It wasn’t her first, but it was her first time skiing solo. She loved the feeling of freedom and independence. She loved her newly-found confidence. Then suddenly, POP! What is the sound of a popping ACL? It’s a sound of despair, loss of hope, the end of a dream. It’s the sound of self-recrimination.
She fell onto the snow, and made several futile attempts to get up again. Her instructors always told her that it’s okay to fall, and that falling was part of learning. What was she supposed to learn from this?
Someone called the ski patrol, and along came the sled.
She remembers when sleigh riding was fun. Under these circumstances it was humiliating. Imagine, all these people watching and thinking to themselves that glad they’re not you!
ACL tears are just one of the many injuries that your students might incur during ski season. They can either happen in class, when skiing with friends, or when skiing solo. An injured student probably won’t be able to take class for the rest of the season. That could mean a temporary reduction in income for you. In fact, depending on the student’s attitude about the injury, they might even decide skiing.
If you regularly read the Snocoach blog, you understand the importance of off-slope contact with your students. However, your injured student needs the same type of attention – perhaps even more so. By reaching out to an injured student, you can help them maintain their excitement about the sport.
In this article, I will show how my instructors helped me get through my ACL injury nightmare.
Ski Injury As a Status Symbol
Here’s one of the saddest ironies about ski injuries. In certain online and real-life circles, a ski injury is a red badge of courage. It’s the thing that distinguishes you from the so-called “gapers,” and qualifies you as a “real skier.” When I tore my ACL, people who once ridiculed my preference for wide, blue cruisers suddenly became my best buds.
Think about the cognitive dissonance this could cause in your students. You’ve taught them everything they need to know about slope safety. At the same time, you’ve encouraged them to push their limits. But now, they’ve learned the consequences of pushing too hard, and it ain’t pretty. While their new “friends” are congratulating them on their entry into the inner sanctum of coolness, your student might be experiencing “I don’t want to belong to any club that will have me as a member” syndrome.
Your student needs a sounding board to help her sort out her feelings. Who better to play this role than her instructor? In addition to simply listening, you can also suggest ways to help her keep her mind active during recovery. Here’s what one instructor did.
Keep Them Learning
As a published freelance writer, I often get hired for ghostwriting assignments. Last month, and interesting woman contacted me. She was a New Yorker who learned to ski as an adult. After falling in love with the sport, she moved to Colorado, and started taking lessons on a weekly basis. One day, while skiing solo, she fell and tore her ACL. Her instructor stayed in contact with her. Sensing her depression, he suggested that she blog about the recovery process.
At first, I wondered why she needed her blog to be ghostwritten. After all, this was so personal. Then, she explained the details. Although she could speak English fluently, her written English required lots of work. She did not simply want a ghostwriter. She wanted me to explain the grammar rules behind every correction. Her rationale: Her ski lessons had put her brain in learning mode. By learning the correct rules of written English writing, she was keeping her brain active. Her instructors idea of encouraging her to blog was brilliant.
It’s the Little Things
There’s never a good time to incur an injury, but they often choose the worst possible time to occur. I tore my ACL when my husband was back in Boston, closing on the sale of our condo. My ski instructor took me to surgery. He also helped with little things, such as walking my dog.
Even if your client has a roommate or a significant other, caring for an injured person is tiring. Think about what you can do to help out.
Getting Back In the Bindings
There are two types of injured ski students. Some will try to get back to the slopes as soon as possible, and ski the same terrain they skied before the accident. Others will be terrified at the idea of returning to the sport. I was one of the latter. One of my instructors drove all the way from Aspen to Breckenridge, in order to ski with me on my first day back. We worked on small accomplishments, such as the tiny, albeit steep pitch outside the cafeteria. Whether your student is gung-ho or intimidated, they need your support.
And showing your support will keep them loyal.