Ligety back at it again with skiing
Parkite returns to the slopes after having back surgery
The sun was just beginning to peak over the Wasatch Mountains when Park City native Ted Ligety started his day on Monday. It wasn’t unlike a typical April morning for him following a season: wake up early, drive to Deer Valley Resort, get on the lift by 7:30 a.m., train for a couple of hours.
This time, however, was different. Despite having skied at Deer Valley a countless number of times and having gone through the spring training regime before, Ligety experienced some nerves before heading into the gates.
The reason why Ligety contained butterflies was because it was his first training session back on the slopes after opting for a season-ending lower back surgery in January.
“There’s the first-day apprehension,” Ligety said of being back on the slopes. “You’re always a little bit nervous about how it’s going to feel, but [it was the] same thing with my knee last year. Once I took a couple turns and I slowly ramped it up within a run, it felt perfect pretty much right away.
“It’s feeling really good. No pain at all while skiing.”
Ligety, who spent much of his down time helping his company Anomaly Action Sports move a branch to Park City, began posting videos of him skiing in late March, with the first coming on March 27 from Deer Valley, his hometown resort. The video was accompanied with the caption: “WOOOO! I’m back.”
But it wasn’t until Monday morning when he really started training again. And though he’s been through season-ending injuries before, such as last year when he blew out his knee, Ligety’s young rehab process has already been different than any of his prior ones.
“I’d say this is different than when I blew out my knee in the sense that [the knee was] an acute injury,” Ligety said. “It’s finite. You know exactly what the pathway is. You get surgery, you move on and do your rehab. Whereas, my back was tougher in the sense that you weren’t really sure on what the next step was. Maybe you don’t need surgery. Maybe you do need surgery.
“It was a more frustrating injury in that sense, but the recovery has been easier [so far]. Every injury is different. It’s just you have to manage it differently.”
And while strapping into the skis and getting snow under his feet was like getting back on a bicycle for Ligety, he’s learned a lot since getting his surgery in January.
In the past, Ligety was known for completing his “hammer time,” as he would put it, in the gym. As most could probably assume, hammer time was the allotted period Ligety set for himself to go to the gym and bang out his lifting exercises at the highest level possible. Sometimes, he ignored a pre-lift stretch or two, but he could always power through, Ligety said.
Now, Ligety still gets his hammer time in, but he has to be much more cautious of how he prepares, how he lifts and how he recovers.
“Overall, I just have to be smarter with my approach to dryland training,” Ligety said. “I have to be more on top of that stuff; be more on top of the preventative side of working out. … I’m having to be more conscious on that side of things, which is different for me. I’ve always liked to go in there and just hammer for my few hours a day.
“Now, I get my hammer time in, but I’ve also got to make sure I’m staying loose and working on mobility. … Those are the things that come with getting old and having had injuries and learning from those experiences. I’m definitely taking heed to all of those things.”
Ligety’s plan moving forward is to train for the next two weeks at Deer Valley, even after the resort closes on Sunday. Each day, intensity will increase, as he feels out the injury and works up his conditioning.
Once the snow is gone, Ligety will continue to hit it hard in the gym to get his strength back to 100 percent. In August, he’ll travel to New Zealand to get back on snow and prepare for the 2017-18 ski season.
In reality, his training hasn’t been much different than any other year. But being off of the snow took its toll on Ligety, who’s made a living on it. He’s just glad to be back.
“Skiing [again has] been great,” Ligety said. “It’s been awesome.”
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The inaugural season may have ended in a loss, but the Park City Red Wolves saw a lot of progress throughout that leads to a bright future.