Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Steamboat Springs A month ago, the last place U.S. Ski Team Alpine racer Caroline Lalive expected to be was at home in Steamboat Springs.
But on Wednesday morning, that's exactly where the Olympian was in the kitchen baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
"It is the perfect therapy," Lalive said of baking.
But it's a long way from the World Cup Tour.
Three weeks ago, the day after qualifying for the opening World Cup event, Lalive smacked a gate during a training run. The impact shattered her left index finger, and a few days later she underwent surgery that would keep her out of the opening World Cup race, which was held last Saturday.
After the training accident in Soelden, Austria (the same place as the World Cup opener), Lalive returned home to Colorado, where she underwent surgery at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail.
Then it was on to Steamboat, where she has been actively rehabilitating the injured finger. She expects to take part in NorAm events in Loveland and Winter Park early next month. She is also planning to be back for the World Cup events in Park City Nov. 21-23.
"It's a little frustrating," Lalive said of the injury. "I had one of my best summers in seven or eight years I was really looking forward to getting started this season."
Lalive said the training injury caught her a little off guard she didn't even realize her finger was broken until after she finished training that day.
"It was really cold and I hit the gate with my knuckle," Lalive said. "It didn't hurt too bad, so I just kept training. It wasn't until I pulled my glove off later that day that I realized it was something serious."
Lalive was sent back to the United States, where she underwent surgery. Doctors used eight screws and one metal plate to repair the crushed bone, and Lalive started the rehabilitation process immediately to get back on the World Cup tour as quickly as possible.
Lalive said she plans to get back on skis next week and will have a special grip built around the top of her pole that will protect the injured finger.
The injury has delayed the start of Lalive's season, but it hasn't dampened her enthusiasm.
"The Olympics were very disappointing," Lalive said. "But it was just a case of bad timing I think I learned a lot from it."
After failing to finish a race at the Olympic Games in Utah last year, the Steamboat skier collected a second-place finish in the downhill at the World Cup finals and earned two national titles in super-G and combined. This year Lalive said she will continue to focus on skiing and not the results and is hoping to pick up where she finished last season.
"I'm feeling pretty confident right now," Lalive said. "I just want to get back on skis and start racing again."
The U.S. Ski Team veteran is going to take a new approach to the upcoming season. She has decided to rent a chalet in Austria during the season to help escape some of the stress and pressure that comes from living on the road.
"It isn't a huge place, but it's really comfortable and nice," Lalive said. "It will be a great place to escape to and will help me cut down on the amount of travel during the season."
In the past, Lalive said she has traveled to Europe for three months at a time, often spending weeks living out of a suitcase in hotel rooms.
She got the idea to rent a place in Europe from teammates Bode Miller and Erik Schlopy, who have used a similar approach to cut down on travel in the past. It was an idea that made perfect sense for Lalive.
"It's a place I can call home for a few days, do my laundry and get away from the pressures of racing," Lalive said. "It sure beats living in a hotel."
Lalive plans on spending the next few days in Steamboat before heading to Summit County to resume training with her teammates.