Betschart advised to delay return
A local orthopedic surgeon has advised World Cup ski racer Wisi Betschart to rest his ailing shoulder at least three more weeks before resuming his season with the U.S. Ski Team.
Betschart, a seven-year veteran of the team from South Lake Tahoe, seriously injured the shoulder Nov. 26 while training for his World Cup opener in Beaver Creek, Colo. The 23-year-old has missed the past three weeks with a broken scapula bone to his right shoulder blade.
While the shoulder feels well enough to allow Betschart to resume free skiing, it’s not sound for world-class competition.
“A quarter inch broke off at the bottom of the bone, and it’s kind of hanging only because the muscle’s attached,” said Betschart, who is rehabilitating the shoulder at Emerald Bay Physical Therapy three times a week. “I guess we’re hoping the bone attaches somewhere to the bone with scar tissue.
“It really doesn’t hurt anymore, and it doesn’t affect my movement or anything. They’re just waiting for it to find a place to hold up.”
Dr. Terry Orr, who examined Betschart on Monday at Tahoe Fracture Clinic, said the broken bone is slow healing because there is no way to stabilize it.
“He needs to push out of the gate, pull and use arm motion for balance. It just isn’t going to happen that quickly,” Orr said. “He’s made tremendous improvement since the injury, but it is the nature of injury that it’s just going to take a little more time.”
Orr indicated that the minimum recovery time for this particular shoulder injury is six weeks. Hence, he sees no problem with Betschart returning early next year.
“I would expect him training probably in another two to three weeks, but it depends how things are settling down,” Orr said.
The wait has become even more painful mentally for Betschart, who is agonizing as his FIS points climb from inactivity.
“With me not racing and not earning any points, my ranking are getting killed right now,” he said. “It totally throws off my goals that I set for this year. I wanted to ski fast the first part of the year in hopes that when we headed back to Europe I would have a full-time World Cup spot.”
When doctors OK Betschart’s return, he plans to build points through Nor Am and Europa Cup races.
“They told me that if I get two good races under my belt in Nor Ams or Europa Cup, I’ll be in the next World Cup after that,” Betschart said.
Like most injuries, this one came at an inopportune time. Betschart had placed second in two team trials, finishing .04 out of first in one and .10 from the top spot in the other.
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