So what happened to Flakey’s Hotham Blog in 2009? I posted with great enthusiasm on in 2008, and then vanished without a trace in 2009. Yes, true, and with good reason. This little birdie broke her wing.

2009 was going to be my big year. With my daughter in Racing Squad, I decided to give it a go too. An opportunity to fine tune my skiing technique, and take it to the next level.

It started with a big bang! I found the intensity, encouragement and camaraderie of the racing squad to be incredible. And as a result my skiing skill improved beyond all my expectations.

Giant Slalom happiness. Victorian Championships, Hotham 2009

The big test came very early in the season, after just two weekends of training – the Victorian Masters Championships at Hotham. I raced Giant Slalom from the start hut on the Cornice and down Snake Gully, and also Slalom down Snake. This was the most incredibly adrenalin-pumping ski experience I’ve ever had. And what fun! I was really happy with my results, and felt big things were ahead for the season.

With my team-mate Trisha on the podium, Vic Masters Championships, Hotham 2009

Then two Saturdays later I was training in heavy fog on Imagine at 9am, doing a Giant Slalom course. Visibility and snow conditions were such that they cancelled our session but I had one last run … and wanted it to count as my best. I put the poor conditions out of my mind, focused on the task of each gate, and gave it my all. I skied what I think was my best run of the season, and came over the finish line very happy. Then relaxed a bit.

I think my weight moved a little back on my skis, and then in a flash of an instant, my skis went one way and I went another. In a spectacular double ejection I flew metres through the air and landed on my left shoulder. Instead of the usual “woo-hoos” from the Heavenly Chair above, there was this “oohhhhhhh”. After a few minutes I surfaced, moving my arm around gingerly. Trying to put on a brave face I announced I thought I’d aggravated an old rotator cuff injury; so I skied back with a little help to the racing hut. I managed to stick around for the remainder of the day to watch training videos and be a part of the coaching, but no more skiing. I drove my car back home. But then the pain set in.

Yardsale was at Falls Creek with our daughter who was competing in the Victorian Children’s Championships, so I put out a distress call. Poor Yardy had to drive down Falls, over Hotham, and all the way down to collect me in Omeo. Then back to Melbourne – big thanks to Susan for driving the second car home! Next to the doctors, followed by X-rays, Ultrasounds, and eventually MRIs. It wasn’t pretty!

The broken shoulder, August 2009

I snapped the corner off the Humerus bone and managed a significant tear to the Supraspinatus tendon of the rotator cuff. This was season 2009 over for me, and it had barely begun!

I bought some snowshoes and continued to travel up to Hotham for as many weekends as possible, and with my arm in a sling walked out to support my team-mates in their races, to feel at least a little part of it. But it wasn’t before long that the severity of the injury caused the shoulder to freeze (adhesive capsulitis).

The anticipated recovery time for frozen shoulder is at least a year. At this point, as I face the new season in a matter of days, I’m quite nervous – nervous with the normal anticipation of early days, “Will it be a bumper season?”, but also nervous about how I will cope; especially as I’m with racing squad again this season. I’m not one to give in easily, and am determined to be the one in control of this!

To that end, I’ve done physiotherapy and myotherapy for over 9 months since the accident. I’ve had a procedure called hydro-dilatation and manipulation under general anaesthetic to help break up the adhesions and scar tissue in the joint to free up the shoulder movement. Most recently I’ve also added a personal trainer into the mix. The results in the last month have been outstanding! For the first time since the crash I can lift my arm up straight above my head, and I’m starting to regain some strength in my arm.

So, for all my readers, this is going to be an interesting year. I’m scared, but mighty excited. I want to get to the bottom of my first run and shove my finger up at the hill … just like I did at the start of season 2008 when returning after a broken rib and rotator cuff injury had ended season 2007 for me! A friend always tells me to get in touch with my inner mongrel, and that I respect the mountain too much. I have to become it’s master and give it hell. So I’m going to give it my best in 2010!

So stay tuned; it’s going to be interesting!