BY ASHLEY CALDWELL
Finally, after months of rehab and healing, I have made it back to training! For aerialists, this means jumping off ‘water ramps’ into a pool! This is where we refine our basic skills and work on harder ones. People often ask me why we don’t follow the snow and get more training by going to South America. The truth is that snow is often very hard on your body, and not the best place to try new tricks. When you are jumping into a pool, it is much safer to learn new tricks. And who doesn’t love hanging by a pool all summer??
Anyways, my surgeon and the physical therapist that work at the U.S. Ski Team cleared me to jump on the water ramps July 18. This is the moment that injured athletes crave their entire injury period. The first moment comes with being allowed to walk, then to run, then to jump, then to do your sport. By nature, just like little kids, we try and push the limits and ‘get cleared’ as fast as we can. While I begged to walk, run and jump before I was ready, I still made sure that I didn’t go against the words of my therapists. So, we push and we push, and then they finally say “YES,” and this generally comes as a shock to injured athletes because we keep hearing “no” this, “no” that. So after begging and pushing to jump, I was finally allowed to go up there and jump on the water ramps!
But, what you don’t realize is that by putting all your effort into being allowed to do something, you sometimes forget exactly what you are doing. When I walked to the top of the ramps, I finally realized that after six months of working, I was back to doing the same thing that got me hurt. When you put so much focus into getting better, you forget why and how you got hurt, until you are back doing it.
This provides a big obstacle for most athletes, including myself. But, at the end of the day, you have to trust that you have put in the work and your body is healed, and you are ready to go. So, back at the top of the ramps, you do get this anxiety about how the first jump will go. It makes your heart race and your hands tremble. You turn your skis regardless of your fear, because you also know that if you don’t, all your hard work is for nothing! And your body remembers and takes over. My first couple jumps are shown in the video to the right. It’s just like riding a bike — just instead of pedals, I have skis; instead of scrapes, I have a new ACL; and instead of riding, I do flips!
You can also follow my journey on Twitter: @AshleySkis