Ballachey’s injury, coaches’ reaction, not as bad as skier thought
Brooke Ballachey’s knee injury from a fall Aug. 1 wasn’t as bad as she thought – and neither was the reaction from the U.S. Freestyle Team coaches.
“It went OK,” Ballachey, 20, a Christmas Valley resident, said of breaking the news of hurting her left knee to her U.S. Ski Team coaches. Ballachey hurt her knee jumping into a swimming hole in the Desolation Wilderness. “There’s not much you can do. It’s just an accident, basically. Kind of a stupid accident.”
But, judging from the reaction of Ballachey’s coach, the injury didn’t sound like it was too far out of the ordinary for freestyle skiers.
“We were bummed for her,” said Ballachey’s coach, Liz McIntyre, a multiple gold-medal World Cup bump skier. “It’s such a bummer for her and we’re just hoping she has as speedy a recovery as possible and we miss her at camp.”
“All these guys live a little on the edge, and I think part of the reason they’re successful in freestyle is they take a few risks,” McIntyre said.
Ballachey slipped jumping into a swimming hole Aug. 1, opening a four-inch cut and tearing her patella tendon slightly. The injury appeared ghastly at first, but it shouldn’t delay her recovery from knee surgery.
“It’s not nearly as bad as what I thought it was,” Ballachey said after having her stitches removed Monday.
Still, Ballachey didn’t avoid a return trip to the hospital. Her injury became infected last week, and, upon suggestion from her doctor, Ballachey checked into the hospital Friday and stayed Saturday for stronger antibiotics.
“When I stand up, it hurts a lot, and I try to stay off it so the swelling will go down,” she said.
When Ballachey slipped, the fall cut her knee and pulled a one-centimeter-square chunk of the patella tendon off the bone. But Dr. Robert Rupp of the Lake Tahoe Orthopaedic Institute, who treated Ballachey after Sunday’s injury, didn’t expect it to delay Ballachey’s recovery.
“That should heal without a problem,” Rupp said, adding Ballachey’s recovery from knee surgery should take longer to recover from than Sunday’s swimming injury. He said Ballachey should be good to go in about eight weeks.
Ballachey finished third in the World Cup grand prix in duels last season. She is one of four South Shore skiers on the team, along with Chris Hernandez, Travis Cabral and Travis Ramos, all from South Lake Tahoe. Ballachey surged onto the World Cup dual moguls scene in 1998 with two podium finishes at Chatel, France in the same weekend, and went on to finish last season in fourth place.
Ballachey also is rehabilitating her right knee after surgery three months ago. While Sunday’s injury didn’t affect the rehabilitation of her right knee through physical therapy, Ballachey is considering skipping a summer training camp for the team, in two weeks, at Mount Hood, Ore.
“In some respects, this will help her rehabilitate her other knee quicker, because she’ll have to use it,” McIntyre said.
With no World Championships looming, the coming season doesn’t represent a big one for freestylers. So Ballachey doesn’t want to hurry, even though the World Cup stops at her home mountain, Heavenly, Jan. 21-23.
She could return to “The Patch” and its year-round snow, near Kirkwood, before the season begins. But she’s not planning on pushing herself into a premature return.
“I kind of play things by ear,” she said. “I’m not much of a goal-setter.”
She’s on the same page, mentally, as her coach. McIntyre doesn’t want her charge to rush things, either.
“We’re on the same page,” McIntyre said. “The biggest thing for her is to be healthy in the next couple of years, not this winter.”
“We miss her face,” McIntyre said. “She’s a good egg to have around.”
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After more than 70 years of operating with a term deemed derogatory by many Native Americans, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has changed its name to Palisades Tahoe.