Fresh of the back of a cracking 2016/17 World Cup season, where he podiumed no less than three times, mogul skier and Perthite Brodie Summers was feeling on top of the world. But just months out from the 2018 Winter Games, Brodie suffers a freak accident leaving him with a torn ACL and a broken tibial plateau (upper shin bone). Ouch!
Although clearly a blow to his Olympic preparations, his spirit and determination remains strong. As Brodie is a member of the Snowriders Australia admin team, the news of Brodie’s injury hit us hard – but not as hard as it hit him. Obviously!
We caught up with Brodie at his NSW home in September where he was busy recovering from surgery and intensive sessions in the gym. We started by asking him exactly what happened and what the injury means for his Olympic preparations.
SRA: Hi Brodie, thanks for joining us. You had a cracking season in 2016/207 where you finished on the WC podium no less than 3 times, all results which ‘boded’ well (no pun intended) for the upcoming Pyeong Chang games. But then tragedy struck and you sustained an injury … What happened?
Brodie: I unfortunately managed to blow my knee to pieces at the last event of the Australian season. I had a full ACL tear, partial MCL, damage to both the lateral and medial menisci as well as a fracture of the tibial plateau… not ideal by any means but certainly not game over!
The really unfortunate thing is that it wasn’t caused by a crash at the time of the incident. I was just landing a routine jump in training and I felt it go as soon as I hit the snow on landing. There’s no merit in dwelling on these things once they’ve happened. All that really matters now is how well I can come back from this.
SRA: What went through your mind when you first felt that shooting pain?
Brodie: Straight away after I landed and I knew something was wrong I just started running dates in my head. “Alright, how far out am I from the Olympics? Five and a half months… that’s doable. How bad is the injury? Do I need surgery? How quickly can I get the ball rolling with rehab?” For me it was just a matter of having a plan. I hurt myself on a Friday and met the doc on Monday morning. Those first two days where I didn’t know for sure what I needed to do were the hardest. After I met with the team doc and my surgeon I was in a much better place mentally because then at least I had a plan to follow. After that all it comes down to is how well you can execute the plan.
SRA: It must have been gut wrenching. What did the doc say?
Brodies: I think the hardest part was on the Friday when my team physio did some tests and told me that I’d blown the ACL. As I’d never had this injury before I was just filled with questions about recovery and time frames. Luckily, I’m surrounded by a team that is extremely well positioned to deal with this kind of injury. I saw the team doc Monday morning and met with our preferred surgeon Monday afternoon. The surgeon and I then discussed options and it was decided that I would go under the knife the following afternoon. The procedure I decided on was to use a graft taken from my own hamstring tendon which then acts as the new ACL as it develops over the following months.
SRA: Wow, surgery the next day. That was quick! What does the next few months look like for you, and when do you expect to get back on the snow?
Brodie: At the time of this interview I’m just coming up to five weeks post-op. So far progress has been rapid and I’m really happy about it. I got back into the gym after a week of being stuck on the couch (which, by the way, was the hardest week of my life!). My trainer and I got straight back to work and hit the rehab program hard. The first week back I was doing just one session per day and by the second week I was back to two, sometimes three sessions per day. The plan now is to get as fully functional and strong as I can over the next few months. If everything stays on track then I should be getting back on snow around early December to do some basic skiing on groomed snow, most likely somewhere in Japan. After that, I’ll probably spend a rare Christmas at home and then I’ll head to America to get back into the bumps and train in the lead up to the Olympics in February.
SRA: So can we expect to see you competing at the 2018 Olympic Games?
Brodie: Yes, you can! Even though it is a very accelerated recovery, I’m already ahead of the game and my body, luckily, is healing quickly. All I have to do is keep putting in the hard work and stay on track and hopefully avoid any hiccups along the way. All being well, I’ll feel even fitter and stronger come February, 2018 than I was pre-injury.
SRA: Sounds promising. Is there anyone you turn to for inspiration in such a tough time?
Brodie: There’s a lot of people I can turn to for inspiration in times like these. One person in particular who has always been a great role model of mine is Lydia Lassila. I even called her the Sunday before I met the doc just to have a quick chat about options and her own experiences because she was in a similar situation to me coming into the Torino Olympics. As well as that, one of the first things I did when I returned home from hospital was to watch The Will to Fly documentary about Lydia’s inspirational story as a mum and an Australian aerial athlete. The Climb, which is another documentary about returning from a knee reconstruction, except this time about Lindsay Vonn, was another source of inspiration for me. The main thing that is really motivating me through this entire process though is the huge carrot dangling at the end of it. That carrot being the Olympics and the overwhelming desire that I have to be there and be in great shape so that I don’t just compete, but I’m a real competitor.
SRA: Thanks for joining us Brodie. We wish you all the best. Brodie appears courtesy of Oakley, XTM, Dalbello boots and ID One Skis.