Steamboat Springs Anna Marno figured it was inevitable.
Ski race at a high level, and injuries are as much a part of the sport as snow conditions.
So even though Marno, a Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club member and U.S. Alpine Ski Team development athlete, figured the worst after a Feb. 14 crash in Aspen, she knew it was all part of the process.
Marno, who had a solid year with multiple NorAm podium finishes and a trip to the Junior World Championships in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, tore the ACL and meniscus in her left knee.
The injury will likely will keep her out six to nine months.
“I had a lot of fun this year and enjoyed ski racing,” Marno said. “Getting hurt just made me want to ski more. I mean, it sucks not being able to ski right now. But there is no way I’m coming out worse than going into it.”
Marno hurt her knee in a downhill event, when she was arguably skiing the best of her season. In two super G competitions in Aspen, Marno finished fourth and second overall. In each competition she was the top junior.
But in the downhill, Marno caught a ski in the snow and crashed. She tried to put on her ski, but her knee buckled, and she couldn’t get enough pressure on the leg to get into her binding.
“As an athlete, we’re so trained to be goal- and result-oriented that you’re in a situation that you don’t know what’s going to happen or how you should progress,” said Steamboat Olympian Caroline Lalive, who had 12 knee injuries in her ski career. “It was interesting for me. My first time gave me a whole new respect and appreciation for other athletes that had done it.”
Lalive, who had 15 top-10 World Cup finishes, said the injury wouldn’t be the end of the line for Marno. Lalive said when she hurt her knee the first time, it gave her an appreciation for the sport and allowed her to step away from ski racing for a bit. She said the key for Marno would be to realize that in the end this will only make her stronger.
“It’s so disheartening because it’s painful,” Lalive said. “You feel emotionally and mentally injured as much as physical. That part is the stinging part. But you have to focus on the recovery. When you’re in a position where it makes you a stronger person, it’s an incredible feeling.”
Marno said she hopes to be back on skis at the earliest in September and at the latest in November. She plans to spend her summer in rehabilitation in Park City, Utah, and Steamboat.
“This summer, I’ll have a lot of time to focus on my strength and fitness,” Marno said. “A lot of times people come back stronger than they have ever been. That’s good. Also I’m having to figure out and realize the commitment level to the sport. I’m finding out the time that it takes to reach my goals. This has been tough and good.”