Joel Reichenberger: Farney truly gritty
April 19, 2009
The details are fuzzy, even to 15-year-old Luke Farney, the only one who was there.
“I was longboarding,” he said, trying to remember the accident that threw his dreams into jeopardy. “I hit a rock or gravel or : something. I don’t really remember much.”
Farney never will know what exactly sent him tumbling as he rode his skateboard down a Steamboat Springs’ street to a friend’s house in November 2007.
He doesn’t remember much about the emergency medical flight to Denver and, of course, he doesn’t remember anything about the induced coma doctors placed him in to curtail swelling in his brain that resulted from the massive head injury.
The one thing that he never forgot, though, is how much he loves to ski.
Farney recovered not just from that injury but also from a broken collarbone he sustained almost a year later, and he became a key member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s freestyle skiing program.
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“It was like he hadn’t skipped a beat,” Winter Sports Club freestyle coach Nate Bird said.
But that’s only part of the reason Farney won the “True Grit” award Tuesday night at the Winter Sports Club’s season-ending awards ceremony.
Farney moved with his family to Steamboat Springs three years ago and didn’t hesitate a minute in making friends.
“Right away, he seemed to become a part of the team and was good friends with everyone,” Bird said.
Farney was new to the freestyle scene. He had competed for one year before transferring to Steamboat and focusing his attention on moguls.
Still, the skateboarding accident kept him from gaining any real traction.
While he was out of the hospital and looking fine just several weeks later, the season was lost.
His dreams of freestyle success, however, were not.
Farney was able to kayak through a doctor-restricted six-month period after his injury, then picked up with mountain biking and the Winter Sports Club’s off-season program as soon as possible.
He returned to freestyle skiing only to suffer another setback early this ski season, when he caught an edge on a run at Steamboat Ski Area.
He broke a collarbone and again was stuck on the sidelines.
But, thanks to strong showings in the past few weeks of the season, he squeaked into the Junior Olympics and skied well.
“He was throwing huge back flips in just a couple of weeks,” Bird said. “That’s really hard in our sport, to come back like that.”
Now, Farney is back and ready for a summer of sports. He hopes to train as much as possible at the Winter Sports Club’s water ramp this summer. And, when winter rolls back around, he plans to take advantage of his first full season on the snow.
“The award wasn’t just about him coming back from an injury,” Bird said. “He was able to come back, but always embodied the spirit of that award. It was perfect for him.”
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