Sammy Kent got his ankle-cast off two weeks ago.
And on Tuesday, he raced the Super Giant Slalom for team Yukon at the Canada Winter Games.
“I really wanted to race for the hometown,” said Kent, standing at the base of the mountain after a speedy run.
“And I always had it in the back of my mind I was going to race with or without my cast — I was just going to tape it up.”
Kent, who lives in Calgary, had a “bad crash” in early December and fractured his talus bone.
But he didn’t know it.
And he kept on skiing.
In January, he found out about the fracture and ended up in an air-cast for four weeks.
“I missed a bunch of race series and it was tough not being able to train,” said Kent.
“This is only my third day on snow.”
And there was a lot of it.
The Super G was postponed on Monday because of heavy snowfall.
And this actually worked in the athletes’ favour, said past national team coach Ozzie Sawicki.
A bunch of skis didn’t arrive with the athletes, so having an extra day to train was a perk.
And the added training on the hill also helped pack the new snow.
Icy hills are safer, said Sawicki, watching the snow fall on Tuesday.
“If you hit soft snow going high speeds, it can slow you too quickly and you lose balance and crash,” he said.
And racing at speeds of up to 80 kilometres an hour, crashes can be ugly.
After the first eight runs Tuesday afternoon, there was a long delay.
Newfoundland and Labrador skier Mila Major hadn’t made it down the mountain.
And when she eventually did come down, she was wrapped in a sled and towed behind a skier.
“It happens, people crash,” said BC’s Victoria Whitney who raced after the delay.
“People crash all the time and you have to push through it and figure out how to not let it bug you — that’s the sport.”
“She’s tough,” said Major’s teammate Robyn Huxter.
“I was a bit nervous (after Major’s fall), but I just had to clear my mind and pretend she didn’t fall.”
Major was released from hospital late Tuesday night with a mild concussion. She won’t be racing Wednesday.
“I can’t comment on whether she will be racing Thursday,” said Sawicki.
“We are going to go day by day.”
Despite a number of crashes Tuesday, skiers said the hill was excellent.
“I like skiing powder, so I’m used to it,” said Erica Trimble, who raced the 335-metre vertical course in 59.05 seconds.
The Yukon skier was going so fast the falling snow stung her face, she said.
Trimble had home-hill advantage, but was using borrowed skis.
“I’m using my coach’s; I don’t have Super G skies,” she said.
Alpine racers generally compete in four sports: the Super G, the Slalom, the Giant Slalom and downhill racing.
And each sport requires unique skis.
“I have eight pairs of skis,” said Jessica Young.
“Four pairs of racing skis and four pairs of training skis.”
The Yukon skier is actually on Alberta’s provincial team, but was racing for her territory during the Games.
“I made both teams,” said Young after racing down the slope through 24 gates in 52.34 seconds.
“But I’m from here and I wanted to ski for the Yukon.”
Young lives in Calgary but spends summers in the territory working at her parents’ guiding and outfitting business.
“I do the backpacking to keep in shape,” she said.
Young had a good run and ended up placing eight out of a field of 48 female racers.
Trimble placed 37th.
“I’m not the greatest,” said Trimble. “But it’s fun to get out and see how others ski and take notes.”
It was intimidating racing some of Canada’s top skiers, said Derek Wilson.
The Yukon skier thought the run was “a bit rutted up,” but enjoyed the whole experience.
“I had home-hill advantage, so I know the hill and the snow,” said Wilson.
“But we don’t usually train Super G, because they’d have to fence off the whole run.”
Only two of the Yukon’s three male racers made it to the bottom.
Matthew Wolsynuk hit the first compression, lost speed, caught the outside edge of his ski in a rut and crashed.
“I spun around and slid down on my back,” he said.
Wolsynuk loves the adrenalin rush brought on by Super G speeds, but he wasn’t going to dwell on the crash.
“I’m going to put it in the past and move on,” he said.
With a red lipstick kiss on his cheek, it looked like Wolsynuk had been well cared for after his crash.
But it turns out the kiss came before the run.
“There were some can-can dancers up there and they were changing as I was getting my suit on and came over and gave me a kiss,” he said with a grin.
Alberta’s Cam Brewington took gold in the Super G, finishing in 49.7 seconds.
The last racer of the day, Alberta’s Chris Scheele, took silver.
It was nerve-racking waiting until the end, said Scheele.
“I had to stay ready, keep focused and keep my muscles going.”
Whizzing down the hill, Scheele whacked a number of the somewhat-flexible gates.
“You want to get as close to them as you can,” said Sawicki.
“The more gates you hit, the quicker your time.”
But they hurt.
“I whacked a bunch,” said fourth-place finisher Kelsey Serwa, rubbing her arms.
The suits have padding on the arms and legs, but not much, she said.
“But if you want to go faster and travel less distance, you go close to the gates.”
Bronze went to Cameron Wickham of Ontario.
The Yukon saw Kent place 22nd and Wilson place 35th.
In the female Super G, Alberta’s Andrea Bliss won gold, finishing her run in 51.42 seconds.
“When I came out of the tent at the top and saw it was snowing, I thought, ‘Oh, no,’” said Bliss.
“I thought the visibility would be a little iffy.
“But I just had to trust my line and focus on not getting caught in the soft stuff.”
Bliss was trying to work on her confidence and was intent on overcoming frustration and defeat.
“I just went out and had fun, and this relaxed attitude paid off,” she said.
Silver went to Ontario’s Krystyn Peterson and Quebec’s Catherine Morel took bronze.