Where’s Jonny? | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Where’s Jonny?

David Gignilliat, Tribune Staff Writer

Where in the world is Jonny Moseley, one of the world’s most recognizable skiers?

Not at Heavenly, where teams from all over the world trained yesterday for the first area World Cup freestyle event in 20 years. Not at the Horizon Casino, either, where the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team gathered for a group meeting Tuesday evening.

Don’t worry though. U.S. coaches haven’t filed a missing-person report, … yet.

Moseley was at his home in Squaw Valley on Tuesday, rehabilitating a deep muscle bruise he suffered last week during ESPN’s Winter X Games in Crested Butte, Colo. And Moseley, who has enjoyed worldwide celebrity status since bringing home the Nagano hardware, will “more than likely” be able to compete in Saturday’s moguls, according to U.S. team sources.

“In his heart of hearts, Jonny wants to do nothing more than ski here and bring home the kind of performance – win, lose or draw – that the crowd has come to know him for,” said U.S. freestyle head coach Don St. Pierre, a Steamboat Springs, Colo., resident who is in his eighth year with the national team. “I probably doubt he’ll ski (today). I’m sure he’s going to work more on physical rehabilitation and getting his back in shape to compete.”

But what about the medical perspective?

“It’s still a game-time decision,” said Kim Nelson, head physical therapist for the U.S. freestyle team. “But it’s going to take a lot (of discomfort) for him to not want to go on and ski. He heals pretty quickly.”

Team doctors have officially diagnosed Moseley’s condition as a hematoma, a raised internal blood swelling that restricts muscular mobility and is often painful to the touch. The swelling measures approximately 10 by 13 inches and runs in the middle of his back. Despite sustaining the injury in one of his preliminary runs, Moseley regrouped for five additional runs on his way to a silver medal in the X Games’ free skiing big air competition.

“He hit it pretty bad (at the X Games). We don’t know exactly what it was from,” said Cooper Schell, Moseley’s personal coach and a former U.S. team technical coach. “He landed on his back (during one of his jumps). We don’t know if it’s actually from sliding down the out run or from hitting the fence.”

“It’s like being hit by a truck, so he just doesn’t have the mobility that he wants to,” Nelson added.

Moseley’s therapeutic efforts have included a daily barrage of massages, heat therapy and electrical stimulation. Moseley, Heavenly’s learn-to-ski ambassador, has been carrying around a portable unit which helps to mobilize the ‘swelled blood’ in his back and dissipate it to lower and more manageable concentration levels.

Will it be manageable come Saturday, though?

“Knowing Jonny, I think he is going to compete,” Schell said. “Whether we can get him to 100 percent or not, that’s the real challenge right now. I hope by Thursday, maybe he can ski about 80 percent. And then by Friday, maybe we can get him back to 100 percent.”

If Moseley is able to compete, it will be his first World Cup event in eight months. Though he has competed on the Bumps ‘n Jumps circuit since Nagano, there may be some competitive rust, especially nursing an injury. But, …

“Moseley’s impenetrable when it comes to that,” Schell said. “He can handle any kind of adversity. One thing about Jonny, he always outperforms his level. So if he does compete, he’ll be competitive. Definitely not in Nagano form, though.”

Don’t rule out seeing Moseley’s all-American smile beaming from a spot on Heavenly’s podium, though.

“If he was healthy, (a top-three finish) would be my only focus,” Schell said. “He isn’t so, for right now. If we can get him healthy to compete, he definitely has a chance at podium.”

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