“Pop!”

The sound associated with something bursting, perhaps a thought, a vision or a dream.

It’s also the sound you hear when you tear your ACL.

I have many friends that are familiar with the sound first hand, but I had never personally experienced it, until a week ago.

Twenty days prior, I had quit my full time corporate job, packed up my belongings, sublet my house, left behind the life in Vancouver I had spent the last 10 years building, and moved to Jackson Hole.

I had a good career and my life was steadily moving forward in the direction that would make any parent proud, so why put it on hold and potentially throw it all away?

It took me a long time to make this decision and the answer simply came down to the desire to live a life with no regrets.  Albeit risky, intimidating and scarier than anything I had ever done, I needed to investigate what potential I had as a skier if I committed to being more than a weekend warrior. So it was decided, Jackson was where I needed to be to pursue my dream of being a professional skier.

The more I became committed to this decision, the more I felt the universe was telling me “this is what you are meant to be doing.”

I received incredible support from my employer, my sponsors, my friends. I had my first TV appearance after being nominated as Vancouver’s athlete of the week, my ski trip from the summer was getting exposure, I found a place to live with ease, I was accepted onto the Mountain Athlete team to train with my peers for the upcoming competition season, and Jackson was the only place in North America that was getting any snow!

Ten knee deep pow turns later on Teton Pass I took a minor crash and I heard the notorious “pop.”

In that moment, I knew my ski dream bubble along with my knee had exploded and my season was over before it had even started.

Friends swiftly stabilized my knee with shovels, jackets, rope and ski straps and split into two groups; one to retrieve the vehicles, the other to help me get out of the backcountry without causing further damage.

I skied down on one leg, ironically enough using the techniques I had learned at ski practice the day before. To dump speed I’d fall to my good and my friend Travis would then ski beside me, so I could use him and his skis to push myself up out of the deep snow.

Ski and fall. Struggle up.
Ski and fall. Struggle up.
Ski and fall. Struggle up.
Get off the mountain.

In the car on my way home my mind swirled with heavy thoughts and hard questions.

How would I tell my parents? How will they react?
Will I get kicked off the team?
Will insurance cover it?
How long until I can walk? How will I make money until then?
Do I stay in Jackson?
This will be my 5th knee surgery. I’m 30. Can I keep doing this?
What now?

“Failure” echoed in my mind as I processed all I had given up for the dream that popped with my ACL.

I was ashamed. The tears came.

Here’s the deal with pain. The sooner you get to it, the easier it is to overcome and the quicker you recover.

On my way to the hospital I called close friend who had gone through the exact same thing just a year prior.   I had not asked her to share the news. What would people think of my failure?

It was wrong to worry. Before I left the hospital my phone was overflowing with text messages and voicemails with words of sympathy and encouragement from more friends than I knew I had in Jackson.

The pain eased some.

Despite my season ending injury, and the subsequent insecurities, no one thought any less of me. My parents were supportive, not disappointed. No “I told you so’s.”

The more people found out the more support and encouragement I received to persevere and come back stronger than I’ve ever been.

Instead of defeat, I’ve felt more confident in my abilities as a skier physically and mentally and I’m reassured that my decision to come to Jackson was the right one. I could not be surrounded by a better more supportive community than I have here.

Despite the disappointment I’ve decided my ski career bubble never actually popped, it simply got put on hold.