Mendes’ participation at nationals uncertain |

Mendes’ participation at nationals uncertain

A broken right thumb is threatening Jonna Mendes’ participation in the U.S. Alpine Championships Friday through March 29 in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The 20-year-old from South Lake Tahoe plans to have the thumb reset today during a one-hour surgery by Dr. Terrence Orr at Barton Memorial Hospital.

Mendes, a Heavenly Ski Foundation alumna, broke the thumb during GS training prior to the Nor Am Finals last week at Rossland, British Columbia.

“It’s so swollen and cockeyed, but it doesn’t hurt a lot, so I don’t know what to think,” said the fourth-year U.S. Ski Team member. “I want to race nationals, and Dr. Orr knows how bad I want to be there, so if it’s possible, I’ll be there.”

Mendes said she broke several bones at the thumb’s joint and indicated surgery isn’t an option. But she holds hope that she can race at least the national downhill and super-G with a cast protecting the thumb.

“I think it would be fine for the downhill and super-G because you’re not smacking all the gates,” she said. “The cast will hinder my tuck and my movements holding my pole.”

With a solid season behind her, Mendes is hoping that this is the year she finally wins a national title.

“I’ve had too many silver and bronze medals; this time I was ready for the gold,” Mendes said. “I’m very thankful it was something like my thumb, and I got my whole World Cup season in.”

Mendes tore ligaments in the same thumb at nationals two years ago but finished the week of racing.

If she has medical clearance for nationals, she’ll spend the remainder of Tuesday recovering in South Lake Tahoe before flying out on Wednesday. She needs to train for downhill on Thursday in order to race on Friday.

Mendes’ successful season includes consistent top-30 World Cup places, enabling her to finish a career-best 28th in the final downhill standings. Thus, she missed qualifying for her first World Cup Finals by three places.

“I’m going to leave feeling good about myself because this really was a breakthrough year for me, and I’m proud of my accomplishments,” said Mendes following her final World Cup downhill March 5 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

South Lake Tahoe’s other U.S. Alpine Ski Team member, Wisi Betschart, has already been ruled out of nationals.

Betschart, 23, re-injured his back on a swing through Europe on the Europa Cup circuit earlier this month. The U.S. Team felt its seven-year veteran’s shoulder needed therapy, rest and rehabilitation – but no surgery.

However, Heavenly Ski Foundation’s Jamie Hansen and Christie Higman have qualified to compete in their first nationals.

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