The 2018-’19 ski season was supposed to start with a bang for U.S. Ski Team member Breezy Johnson. After being promoted to the women’s A Team for the 2017-’18 season, Johnson took the World Cup circuit by storm, collecting FIS points in 10 out of her 15 downhill and Super G races, and making waves at the Winter Games in PyeongChang, where the first-time Olympian snagged a top-10 finish in the downhill. After her banger season it became clear: Johnson would be one to watch during the 2018-’19 season.
Instead of starting with a bang, Johnson's season started with a proverbial pop. On Sept. 3, Johnson crashed during a training run at El Colorado in Chile. What she first suspected was only a minor knee injury turned out be a torn ACL, dashing any dreams of a comeback for the coming World Cup season.
“Original prognosis sounded like I might be okay, but upon further evaluation we discovered the unfortunate news,” Johnson wrote in an Instagram post.
Torn ACLs are not uncommon among professional skiers—Lindsey Vonn’s 2013 crash in the World Cup Super G in Schladming, Austria, in which she sustained a torn ACL, MCL and fractured tibia, is just one of many examples. Though common, ACL tears are nevertheless season-enders. Athletes typically undergo surgery to repair the ligament within a couple of weeks after sustaining the injury, then have to endure nine to 12 months of rigorous and painful physical therapy before hopefully returning to full strength.
With a projected 14-month recovery period ahead of her, Johnson knows she’ll be missing out on one heck of a season. Johnson was achingly close to landing her first World Cup podium finish in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany last year—the same downhill race Vonn won—and was looking forward to racing with and against Vonn in what is expected to be the champion’s final season.
“No, I will not miss an Olympics, and World Championships come back around in this sport. But for me the thought of spending 14 months without that true feeling of living, that feeling of racing, kills me a little bit inside,” Johnson wrote in her post.
Though disappointed, she acknowledges in her post that her injuries could be worse. “ACL tears are, relatively speaking, pretty lucky in our world. Perhaps that makes things better. I have less fear about the surgery and rehab to come.”
At 22 years old, Johnson is the youngest member of the women’s A Team, and we have no doubt that she will make a full comeback and still be one to watch in the years ahead. We wish her a speedy recovery.