The plan brought her to Anchorage and the
She won two medals at the 2019 U.S. Cross Country Championships, made her
Then her plans were foiled.
On the evening of
Halvorsen suffered a skull fracture, tibia fracture and complete tears of two ligaments in her left knee. There's a 10-day gap in her memory. When she tells how she wound up on the hood of the
A ski season filled with promise ended before it ever started. A long rehabilitation began.
"I'm figuring out how to have the right mindset about all this," Halvorsen said recently from
"Because this was such a big injury -- it was a near-death (experience) -- it's always coupled with this appreciation that I'm alive and I'm going to be able to walk again and I can see. I haven't ever slipped too far from this realization. This could be so much worse. I really did get lucky in an unlucky situation."
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Eleven weeks after the collision, Halvorsen is living in
The woman who once raced on ski trails all over the world now spends three to five hours a day doing physical therapy so she can walk on her own again. She bends her knee and activates her quadriceps by repeatedly stepping on and off a small bench. She engages in single-leg spin biking. She uses a rowing machine with one leg. She gets around on crutches and wears a brace to keep her broken shinbone steady until the posterior cruciate ligament at the back of her knee fully heals.
This is all progress. All part of a new plan, one that starts with the simple process of moving forward. With hard work and patience, it ends with Halvorsen skiing at an elite level once again.
"If she wants to be back, she'll be back," said
Yet the accident rattled Halvorsen's friends and teammates. For 10 days, the first five at
"I didn't know my name or couldn't answer certain questions like what month it was," she said.
She said she continues to struggle with some brain-related issues, and she lost her sense of smell and sense of taste. Her speech is not impaired and she posts upbeat updates about her recovery on Instagram. Although she is sad she missed the chance to push her ski career forward this season, she is grateful she was spared permanent physical injuries.
"I had a good season last year, I did my first
"It's definitely been an adjustment, because I'm a planner. I had goals. I wanted to race in that
To begin with, Halvorsen intends to return to
Halvorsen had her knee repaired at the
"He said nine months from surgery. That may have been more of an alpine estimate, so I think it will be maybe closer to seven months, which would put me some point this summer up at (
A more immediate goal of going to the Minneapolis races as a spectator so she can cheer for her teammates is less certain. Halvorsen isn't sure she will be mobile enough to do that, and she isn't sure she can afford it.
She is on her dad's health insurance policy, but her career as a skier is independently funded. She held a fundraiser last month in her home town of
She has a handful of ski sponsors but they are result-based, so she can't count on them this season. One of her initial goals for the season was to ski well enough to earn a promotion from the
Halvorsen said she felt blue at times earlier this month while watching the
"Every time I've been to a doctor's appointment, every single doctor I have seen has said the same thing -- this is a miracle," Halvorsen said. "My brain doctor said 50 percent of people who get hit where (I) got hit are blind. My knee doctor said everything is fixable, there is no permanent damage. To hear it from a medical perspective makes it more factually true -- I really did get lucky.
"Not to say I'm not ever bummed. I want to be racing."
As she works toward that end, Halvorsen said, she will move forward slowly and deliberately.
"I definitely believe as long as I have patience and logical expectations, I can come back better than I was. With enough time, I think I can," she said.
In fact, she's planning on it.
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