This isn't the way Steamboat Springs snowboarder Justin Reiter envisioned the year leading up to his Olympic bid.
Reiter spent the first part of the season trying to ignore a persistent pain in his left knee that limited the number of runs he could take. In some cases, he would slip the course, but it was normal for his first run of the day to take place in qualifying.
Off the racecourse, Reiter spent his time training on a bike and hoping the pain would be gone the next time he stepped into the starting gate.
But after his last attempt, he decided the pain in his knee was not going away by itself. Surgery means an end to this season, but the Alpine snowboarder also thinks this is his best chance of making the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, B.C.
"It's going to take six months, but I'm confident that I will come back even stronger," Reiter said. "This is my best chance, and I know I have to take it."
Reiter said a rule, which stipulates that a rider in the top 10 in the world who is injured is given a World Cup quota spot for the next season, made the decision easier.
"Due to the FIS rule, the length of the recovery, and my knee preventing me from riding to my full potential, I felt it was best to have surgery now rather than after the World Championships," Reiter said.
So last week he traveled to the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail to have the patella in his left knee repaired. He'll have to keep weight off his leg for four to six weeks, and he faces months of rehabilitation after that.
"I'm going to miss snowboarding," Reiter said. "I've had a few minor injuries in the past, but I've always been able to push through it. This is the longest I've been laid up."
But while the decision means an end to his season, Reiter isn't going to let the setback end his dream of making it to the Olympics.
On Monday, Reiter is hosting a fundraiser from 4 to 7 p.m. at Marabou Ranch Headquarters. Beer, wine and appetizers will be served. There also will be a silent auction.
Reiter, who usually works in the summer to save money for competing during the winter, will use the money he raises to pay for his training, travel and competitions in the upcoming year. He hopes to raise a few extra dollars this winter so he can spend more time conditioning and training once his knee has healed.
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