Sammy Carlson Invitational coming up

Normally a fixture of the freestyle skiing scene, Sammy Carlson has been on the sidelines since Winter X Big Air in January, where he tore his MCL and PCL. Still in recovery, Carlson currently splits his focus between knee rehab, strength training and laying plans for his own upcoming big air contest, the Sammy Carlson Invitational, set to take place May 19 in Mt. Bachelor, Ore. Carlson attempted his inaugural competition in 2010 at his native Mt. Hood Meadows, but bad weather seized the day. This year, the contest has a new location and a confirmed athlete list that includes the likes of Sean Pettit, Alex Schlopy, Kaya Turski, Dane Tudor and more.

You've got your own contest coming up pretty soon. Tell me more about that.
Yup. Sammy Carlson Invitational, take two. I'm really excited about it. Mt. Bachelor is going to put it on this year and I've got some really good skiers coming out for it so it should be really cool. The course will be a big air jump into a wall ride, which I think will be a lot of fun. The plan is to have the standard best trick big air contest and then have additional style contests as well, like best rodeo 5. I want to mix it up a little so it's not all just about throwing the gnarliest trick.

Are you going to be back in time to compete in your own contest?
Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to compete this time. I'm hoping that I'll at least be able to ski and hit the jump a little bit, just keep it mellow. It all depends on how fast I heal. I'm hoping to get released to start skiing again by late April or early May. Then I'll just cruise for a little bit before I can start chucking. For now, I'm taking it slow, trying to make sure I do everything the right way so I don't have to go through this again.

How's your knee doing?

I got really lucky. I ended up with just partial tears of my MCL and PCL. I didn't have to get surgery. The recovery was kind of slow at first, I had my leg locked straight in an immobilizing brace for a month. But now I'm fully mobile and getting around fine. I'm still trying to get full rang of motion back, but I'm making progress every day, and starting to build back strength in my quad.

With Olympic Slope less than two years away, does the timing of your knee injury weigh on your mind at all?
No. I've got plenty of time in my eyes. I've used this time off to reassess my approach to training and think about how I'm going to come back when I do get cleared. I'm more fired up than ever to start skiing again and I'm going to work harder than ever.

Over the years, fans have become accustomed to seeing great video parts from you. Did you get in front of the camera at all before your injury this winter?
Unfortunately, I did not. I do have some shoots lined up for this summer, when I return to snow. I'm definitely looking forward to that and hopefully I'll get a little bit of stuff to go in the Poor Boyz and TGR movies that come out in the fall.

Observing much of the competition season from the sidelines this season, what has impressed you the most?
Wallisch has been super impressive this year. His consistency is insane. Watching everyone else, the overall level of skiing is rising at such a rapid pace. Even from the last Winter Dew Tour to European X Games, I felt like everyone stepped it up. It's really cool to look in from the outside because usually I'm so involved in it that I don't see all that's going on. It's been nice to watch and see what I need to work on when I come back.