Frisco’s Matthews looks to build off shoulder injury
October 21, 2010
Mikaela Matthews likes to teeter on the brink of disaster when she flies through a moguls course. A former alpine racer as a junior, the 18-year-old U.S. Freestyle Ski Team member from Frisco is known for her precise turns and aggressive, fast style.
“Some times, it’ll pay off, and I’ll be three seconds faster than everyone else,” she said.
Other times, well, that’s what led to the sling she wore most of the summer.
In her final competition of the 2009-10 season, Matthews under-rotated on a jump, caught an edge on the landing and drilled a mogul. She split a ligament length-wise in her right shoulder, which actually wasn’t discovered until she had arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 6 after months of the shoulder constantly popping out of place.
Now, her second season on the American moguls squad will be spent mostly rehabbing with only a glimmer of hope to return before season’s end.
Although, Matthews doesn’t see this as a lost year.
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Sure, she would have had a chance to pick up some World Cup starts this season, especially with the amount of turnover on the team’s roster from a season ago. But, while her teammates will be traveling the world with a grueling competition schedule, Matthews will get to do something most high-level skiers don’t get to do during season: put serious time into their skiing technique and strength training.
“I’m going to get stronger,” she said. “I’m in the gym six days a week, and that’ll give me a head start on the rest of the team.”
While she can’t do any jumping for the majority of the winter, Matthews has already been cleared to ski flats. It might not be as fun or glamorous as tearing up a World Cup course in Finland, which her team will be doing in early December, but Matthews said it’ll give her a chance to work on the “basics” and “fundamentals” that most skiers simply don’t have time to worry about.
Matthews moved to Park City, Utah, during this past offseason to be closer to the team’s main training facilities. Over the summer – that is, before realizing her shoulder was torn – Matthews spent countless hours on the team’s water ramp set up in Park City, training with the aerials team to, literally, take her jumping to new heights.
With that work behind her, Matthews feels she’s in a good place in her young skiing career.
“I have to keep in mind that I’m still young and have lots of years left in the sport,” she said. “The chance to ski in things like the World Cup or World Championships (which are in Deer Valley, Utah, this February) will be down the road still.”
That mindset was part of the reason Matthews decided to have the surgery right away, instead of waiting until after this season.
Then again, Matthews doesn’t like to get too ahead of herself, even if, sometimes, her skiing style forces the issue.
“I try to take things one step at a time,” she said. “Results come from hard work. And (the work) is what I’m focusing on.”
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