In November 2013, the day before his first speed race of the season, U.S. Ski Team Olympic hopeful Thomas Biesemeyer fell in a training run at Lake Louise and suffered a season-ending injury, dashing his dreams of competing in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. It was demoralizing. He sustained a torn ACL and MCL and later faced another procedure on a damaged nerve.
“Oh man,” he exclaimed when reminded of the crash. “There’s never a good time to get hurt,” Biesemeyer said, “but just before the first race, when you’ve spent the whole summer getting ready to make a move and instead you take about ten steps backwards.”
Retrospect allows philosophy to creep in. “It takes a mental toll,” he added, but “at same time it is sort of exciting, sort of like clicking reset.”
Being on snow in New Zealand again this summer is a huge relief for the former NYSEF racer who has shown World Cup promise in super G and downhill along with giant slalom.
“It was a tough winter,” he said. “In rehab you feel like the black sheep. You’re there, but not really a part of anything.” His integration back into the team dynamic has now begun, but it has only just begun. Now there is the matter of playing it smart. On the way to New Zealand, Biesemeyer first stopped off in Munich where he was fitted for a top-of-the-line knee brace.
“I basically went around the world to get it. It’s very custom. For a skier I think you have to go that route. I’m not completely sold on it yet, but so far it seems to be working well.” So far being key. The real test will come when he’s back up to race speed.
“This camp (in New Zealand) is about getting the touch and feel again. In Portillo (Chile) I’ll step it up with the group and try to get some speed back,” he noted.
Holding back is not in a ski racer’s nature or in Biesemeyer’s. “You want to go, go, go. Definitely when you came back you think you’re ready to go. But once you get on snow again…”
“I have a way to climb yet, but I feel good.” There has been a bit of struggle with the knee, which he said is “not horrible, but it definitely could cause problems if you don’t pay attention to it so it doesn’t get worse.” Like many before him and many more to come, Biesemeyer made the best of the situation, enrolled in some classes at the University of Vermont and accepted an opportunity to speak to young racers at the Empire State Games in his home state of New York.
“I told them it was important to have a plan B because you never know,” he reflected. “I went to school and made the best of it. … Now I feel like I’m back to plan A and moving forward. But it was good to not be so driven … and getting a different outlook on life. Being on the ski team, traveling around the world … you definitely get to appreciate the two sides of the spectrum.”
But now his focus is on returning to where he left off on the World Cup a little less than a year ago.
“I’m really happy to be back with the ski team family. I’m looking forward to being a part of it and staying healthy.”