ACL tear Xs Dill out of Games |

ACL tear Xs Dill out of Games

Mike Dill knew something wasn’t right as soon as his body slammed to the ground. Preparing for the skier cross competition at this week’s Winter X Games, he hit the slopes last Friday for some final practice heats at Mammoth Mountain.

On the final bump of the run – and, unfortunately, his last of the day – Dill ran into trouble. He thought he had landed the routine jump correctly, but the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee didn’t agree. In a matter of moments, Dill had gone from a return trip to Crested Butte as as X Games competitor to the nosebleed seats in front of his TV in South Lake Tahoe.

“I knew the moment I landed, there was nothing to hold up my (knee) anymore,” said Dill, who had planned to fly out to the ESPN-sponsored event Monday. “I’m totally devastated. I had 14 skier cross events lined up for this year, with several of them televised. With the increasing popularity of this sport, this is definitely not a good year to miss. I’m pretty bummed.”

Dill, who earned a fifth-place in skier X at the ’98 X Games, said he plans to have surgery Saturday to repair the damaged ligament. Local orthopedic surgeon Randy Watson will replace Dill’s torn ACL by binding a healthy cadaver ligament to the muscles in his knee in a procedure known as a cadaver allograft.

Other surgical alternatives include grafting tendons from the patient’s patella or hamstring. These procedures often result in a longer healing periods because a patient’s healthy tendons must recover along with the grafted knee ligament. The patellar and hamstring operations also frequently result in second – and sometimes third – surgeries to ensure proper regrowth. While a cadaver allograft may eliminate the need for a second surgery, it may be rejected by the patient’s body because of an incompatibility between the host bone and the foreign ligament.

Dill has been told by local physicians to expect at least four months before he can return the slopes, and estimated that will probably be November or December before he will be in competitive shape.

Dill said he has since contacted X Games officials “to make sure they don’t forget me,” and will likely be able to secure a spot in next year’s competition.

“I’ll be back,” said Dill, whose brother, John, will compete in the skier X in Crested Butte. “This is just making me pissed off more than anything. I think I will come back stronger because of it.”

Knee injuries are pretty common among skiers, especially in the skier cross, where racers’ limbs are often ravaged by a barrage of jumps, bumps, tight carves and dangerous terrain. The skier X also pits racers in six-person heats, often resulting in a free-for-all at the starting gate to see which competitor can ‘shoot the hole.’

Dill’s injury was not as bad as it could have been, however. His medial and lateral ligaments remain intact, and his meniscus does not appear to be torn.

The 34-year old skier seems to be taking the injury in stride. Given time to reflect, Dill has since waxed poetic in a collection of verses aptly titled, “Ode To My Knee”:

(Original text in italics)

Ode to my knee

It skied great since I was three

I just spoke with Robby T.

He is heading to the X-Games without me.

Ode to my knee

It was fine while I was going 60

I hit that last jump

It seemed like a small bump

I was just a little back

It was gone in a snap

Ode to my knee

Oh, it’s blown, I can see

Heard that noise confirming the worst

Racing with the boyz, sometimes it’s a curse

Ode to my knee

I’m glad it was the right

Good thing I’m left-footed

Or I would really be uptight

Dr. Watson is my new best friend

He will make it good again

Ode to my knee.

– Mike Dill, “X-Guy 99”

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