Hello world of Huffington Post readers!
I'm Kaya. I travel the world throwing myself off big ski jumps, flying 75+ feet through the air doing different flips, spins and grabs at events like the X-Games. I've always been a little bit of the extreme child in the family and found my calling as a professional freestyle skier at the age of 17. I've won major events, I've lost, and I've been through some great injuries and rehabbed myself back. It's been one crazy ride and still going strong!
Just over four weeks ago while training on Mt Hood I experienced an ACL tear in my knee for the third time.
That day was exactly the six month mark counting down to my event -- ski slopestyle -- which will be making its official debut at the Olympics this February. It's also an event that, as a member of the Canadian Freestyle team who had consistent results in the 2013 season, I am pre-qualified to compete in.
So, where was my mind? And how do I feel now?
Hundreds of things ran through my head when it happened -- the Olympics, my ski career, and, was I really going to go through this again?
I quickly decided I wanted to withdraw from the ski world, fix my knee and come back as if nothing had happened. I didn't want to let anyone in on what I was feeling or what I was going through. I couldn't help but feel as though going through another injury was a sign of weakness. As a female skier in the world of action sports, I've learned to put up a strong front and spend most of my time skiing behind a black mask, rarely showing emotion. Elusive Kaya, strong and impenetrable. And I've liked it that way.
But as a few days passed after the injury, I thought about what I really wanted to achieve in skiing... really, why did I do what I do? It had to be for more than just winning medals, as that doesn't seem completely fulfilling. And then it hit me -- I thought about the first time I ever watched Sarah Burke, Canadian freeskiing legend, in a ski movie. Her segment started with several crashes, all of which she got up from and then mastered the tricks. Nothing kept Sarah down. And if Sarah could accomplish it, why couldn't I?
I once heard a great speech in which a powerful quote struck me: make your mess your message. If I could fall and get back up, maybe I could inspire others around me to get through whatever tough times they were going through.
As my situation really began to sink in something beautiful happened. It clicked -- the amazing support system that I had, and the people who love me were really there for me, Kaya. Not Kaya the skier, or the gold medal favorite, just me. A couple years ago I had hit a point where I wasn't sure whether I truly recognized myself if I wasn't the skier everyone thought I was. What if I lost? Who was I then? What I felt was a lot of pressure to hold up my success, a lot of which came from myself.
But those days after the injury, when my Olympic dream was seemingly lost, or broken, I realized... I am totally OK. I was feeling warmth from my loved ones, from strangers even. I had an entire team of people backing me, without question, whether chance for a medal wasn't necessarily there. I was still myself, my roots embedded deep into the ground, even though the wind was howling and branches may have been broken. Everything I stood for, everything I believed in about myself and the world had been untouched. It simply became a new challenge to bring my best self; my patient, loving, forgiving, determined, creative and focused self in a less-than-perfect situation.
Recently I had the knee repaired with a synthetic ACL graft, which is supposed to cut the rehab process in half. So far everything is rolling smooth... and I've once again entered into familiar territory. I know what to do... so I'm going.
I trust in my amazing team consisting of friends, family, doctors, therapists, trainers, sport psychologist, coaches, and sponsors. Most importantly, I trust in myself, and that the path I'm on is going to lead me wherever it's supposed to. Ultimately, I know whatever happens; I'm still me.
It's almost like my Olympic dream was taken away from me and I experienced the loss. Now, the hope is still there, and I truly believe I have it in me to continue on and do what I do best. I'm all in... with not much else to lose.
Join me on my road to recovery, and thank you for your support!