Olympic diary: It's still a successful season

Emily Cook, a 22-year-old on the U.S. ski team that is based at Park City, Utah, shares a weekly diary on her preparations for the Olympics.

As a freestyle aerialist one of my biggest fears is the knoll.

The knoll is the flat area of an aerial site where the jumps are built and the coaches stand. On days when the weather is not completely cooperating and speeds are variable, the knoll is something that can get in a jumper's way. On Jan. 17 while training for a World Cup in Lake Placid, New York, I found this out all to well.

The snow was falling and the windsocks were not consistent and I approached my first jump of the day far too slow. When I got into the air I knew that I was in trouble and braced myself for the landing. Unfortunately the speed that I had didn't allow me to make it onto the steep part of the hill and I landed instead on the dreaded knoll. This sort of a landing can feel like jumping out of a 30-foot high window onto a sidewalk of cement. This time felt even worse; as I slid down the hill I was sure that I had broken both of my feet.

Birthdate: July 1, 1979
Hometown: Belmont, Mass.
Sport: Freestyle skiing -- aerialist
Accomplishments: The No. 1 freestyle aerialist in the United States, she won the gold medal at the 2001 U.S. Championships and the silver medal at the 2001 Grand Nationals. She qualified for the Olympic team by winning the Gold Cup in Deer Valley on New Year's Eve.

Personal: She attends the University of Utah. When she's not on the slopes, she enjoys scuba diving, rock climbing, yoga, fly-fishing and reading.

When she was only 2 years old, her mother was killed by a drunk driver. Her father taught her how to ski when she was 4.

At the hospital I was told that I had dislocated some of the bones in my left foot and that my right foot would be fine. I was disappointed that I would miss this week's competition but felt it a blessing that there were no fractures.
The remainder of the week was difficult and painful, but my dad was there to push my wheelchair and I still had hope that I would be ready to jump in February for the Olympics.

When I returned home I saw a specialist who spent hours looking over X-rays and CAT scans to come up with the saddening results. I had not only dislocated bones but also fractured my left foot and possibly in my right foot, as well. He also was unhappy with the way the dislocated bones had set and decided that my left foot would require surgery.

What this really means is that I will be unable to compete in next month's Olympic Games. I am terribly disappointed that I will miss jumping in my first Olympics but realize that the next step is to move forward. I will have surgery on Monday and then will be in a cast until the doctor feels confident that my ligaments and bones have had time to heal at which time I will begin the rehab road to recovery. Throughout this I will also be working toward getting my right foot back to normal.

I am looking forward to seeing all the events at the Games next month and cheering for my teammates on the Freestyle teams as well as all the U.S. Olympic teams. I also want to thank all of my well-wishers, family and friends who have sent messages and e-mails, including my sponsors Visa, Bolle, Volkl, Tecnica, the U.S. Ski Team and the U.S. Olympic Committee who have maintained their support throughout.

As I begin this summer's training I'll remember this season as a successful one. As I work through rehab I will constantly remind myself of the feeling of joy I had when I stood on the podium at the Deer Valley Gold Cup and was named to the Olympic team. I now have new goals for myself in the upcoming 2003 season and will spend my training days looking ahead toward the Games in Italy in 2006.