A constant reminder

09 Oct, 2009

It only took one split second, one knuckle of a jump and one knee with all my weight on it when I heard the pop and felt my knee give out upon landing.  It was early season 2003, just a couple days into the season and my season had just ended.  Within a couple weeks, I had ACL/Meniscus surgery.  Looking back on it six years later that split second changed so much for me.

That year was a blur, I couldn’t wait for it to be over as I went through surgery and then physical therapy to get myself back to normal.  While it was a bummer I lost the season, the next season was the hardest because I lost some passion I had for snowboarding and it took some time to fully fall in love again.  Recovery wasn’t a quick process and the majority of the work was mentally overcoming the fear.

Before surgery I used to hit jumps all the time, I grew up riding Snoqualmie and found that I could clear spines if I charged from the top of the run.  I had no fear and loved it.  But things changed after surgery, I never went back to jumping and even now though I know my knee is strong I have no interest in hitting jumps.  I’ve endured good falls since then and I enjoy riding halfpipe and doing small airs but it’s been a fighting battle with myself to go back off a jump and risk something that I didn’t find worth it the first time around.

First day back on snow – Timberline

I recently went back to the knee surgeon because it was possible that the screw was coming out and needed x-ray’s to make sure.  The screw is in perfect positioning and both my ACL’s were looking in great shape for this season.  Now with just making sure I keep the muscle strong around my knee, I’m looking forward to another year of overcoming the mental fun that my new ACL had given me.  Someday I might not think twice about drops, jumps, but that day hasn’t come yet.

That split second changed a lot for me and it set in stone the events that would lead me to Colorado.  I have a screw in my knee that reminds me every day that the happiest place is being on snow and someday I might get over the mental part that came with it.

About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!


  1. October 09, 2009

    Wow. OK, I was just reading this before work and I had to comment. I completely understand! I was in Montana and didn’t clear a gap, landed flat, and completely screwed up my knee. I got to ride in the little sled down the hill, go to the hospital, crutches, PT, everything. Years later I am still super hesitant to hit jumps like I used to and my knee still does hurt from time to time, but, like you said keeping everything strong really helps. This year, I decided to screw it. My fear, distrust of the sport, hesitancy, everything. I love snowboarding way too much to give it up…a recent realization, in fact. This winter my plan is to go for it. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines any longer. So keep at it! You’ll get back there.
    Oh, and were you a Husky? I was checking out the Husky Snowboard Team page and saw your link…

  2. gotr0
    October 09, 2009

    Wow, I torn my ACL right around then too, but in basketball. I didn’t feel 100% until a year later. I def feel it ache sometimes when it’s over worked during snowboarding but then it serves as a reminder that I’m using knee too much and need to adjust. It’s also made me improve my switch riding more so I even out the stress on my legs. But I understand the apprehension and getting over it mentally takes some time, there’s gotta be some type of support group, so many athletes who’ve torn it.

  3. October 09, 2009

    Girl, I had the same thing the sled down the hill, hospital visit, PT, crutches, ugh I hated it! It’s good to hear that others have the same issues and problems coming from knee surgery, where the mental part plays the most impact with how we ride again. I hate having it be a part of me when I’m riding but at the same time I don’t love jumps like I love halfpipe and halfpipe doesn’t scare me when I ride it.

    And yes I was a Husky! Graduated in 2005 from University of Washington! Stoked I’m on the snowboard team page, that’s rad!

    Got, definitely understand the ache, early season I try to slowly get back into snowboarding because my knee aches after riding all day but once the season is underway it feels a lot better. I also ride switch more, funny how my strong leg is my rear leg now and that makes switch riding pretty fun. Yeah I think PT does a great job in getting you back in shape, I did PT earlier this year to strengthen it up more again but so much is mental, it’s tough to get over some of that.

  4. Steven Ness
    October 09, 2009

    Shay …. classical Pilates is the answer. Keeps your muscles and joints strong, mobile, and limber without the load associated with weightlifting and/or running etc….. perfect pre-season training for snowboarding. Check it out.

  5. October 09, 2009

    I have severely separated my shoulder, broken my tailbone, and had a numerous knee contusion on the mountain, but I have always told myself I will never ride in that mini meat sled. not sure if this is smart or stupid- but I keep coming back for more. I dont follow the yoga method- I prefer to be stiff and pissed.

  6. Fore
    October 09, 2009

    I have a torn acl and mcl on my right knee
    I highly suggest a Breg or DonJoy brace for ligaments, they move well with you and are comfy when fitted good. Its a good insurance and I take more risks when I wear mine
    NFL football players use these two and Nate Holland uses one of their ankle braces
    You can get a prescription to cover the cost

  7. Alex
    October 09, 2009

    I hear you shay, :-/ my season ended pretty early last year with a snapped arm, punctured/lung, two broken ribs, two big old cracks in my pelvis, and a cracked tooth. But hey I’m still coming back for more. The only thing I’m really worried about, is it not effecting future riding endeavors. Who knows! But it’s snowing!!!

  8. October 09, 2009

    Didn’t realize you were a fellow Dawg…

    Hear you on the injury tip and how it always stays in the back of your mind – especially the whole risk x reward tradeoff when your career is not dependent on riding. I’ve never quite been the same between broken elbow (elbow dropped a hidden rock on a pow day…) and some other little nagging injuries from other crap. I’ve started taking ‘training’ a little more serious for the season, trying to strengthen all the little supporting joints/muscles this year to prep for the season.

  9. Pam
    October 09, 2009

    Boy am I glad I’ve never had anything that has kept me off the mtn for more than 2 weeks. I have 2 good concussions, 1 minor one, nasty knee contusions, rail to shin hits and spine compression. And possible torn neck ligament…or so they tell me. I hope I stay well this season.

  10. October 09, 2009

    I’ve had some concussions and while it’s nothing like that you went through, I kinda know how you feel.

    You’re such an inspiration! I know you’re going to continue to shred for a long time 🙂

  11. October 11, 2009

    I was just thinking about the same thing this weekend. I broke my collar bone skiing in 2003, and the last few days it’s been hurting. They don’t fix a collar bone, just give you drugs and wait till the bone grows between the break. As a result I have a lump on the bone where they overlap. I slowed down a bit after, but i’ve noticed the biggest change in my ridding came after I got married. Now i’m not trying to impress, and I just can’t push myself as hard. I have not figured out how to menataly make myself compete while riding.

  12. October 11, 2009

    haha Justin, trust me I had no choice in my family about being a husky…both my brother and I graduated from UW.

    Fore, I have a donjoy brace that I got after surgery but I hated relying on it and a couple seasons ago I stopped wearing it completely so my knee would build up the strength on its own without having the brace. Since then I have no need for it and like riding without it.

    Wow some really tough injuries from riding! I’ve been lucky with just having my knees be the issue and a couple bruised ribs but other than that I feel great on the mountain. Mentally the knees were the worst just because I really lost my muscle after surgery and was a tough comeback.

    Interesting point Michele on your own riding and not pushing yourself as hard, not from injury but just from settling down. For me, I like mixing up who I ride with and trying to ride with others who push me. As a single girl, its the most fun that way and I like not having one person who I’m always riding with (although a bit lonely off snow) on snow it’s like woohoo new riding buddies all the time. But I can see how that’s tough when you get into a relationship or settle down, that it’s hard to go ride with others and yet important to have that mix up every now and then.

  13. Jenni R
    October 12, 2009

    hey shay,

    i totally relate to this! i tore my ACL wakeboarding a few years ago when my backroll came up short and the nose of my board dug into the wake and SNAP! there it went. i had just graduated from college so i didn’t have insurance anymore… i just had to suck it up. it was pretty depressing, i couldn’t do anything like i used to anymore! i was planning on getting it fixed last year, but then i took a digger snowboarding and had to get shoulder surgery… the dumb thing is, the only reason i fell was because of the instability in my knee! needless to say, i take it easier now. no big jumps anymore and i don’t go nearly as fast so i can be in control all of the time. i have surgery scheduled now for this april…. i didn’t want to waste a whole winter again! i just wear a brace and take it easy.

    i lost a lot of my abilities after the injury… but i don’t let it get me down!!! it’s frustrating at times to know how much my riding has suffered, but at least i can still get out there. hopefully after recovering from surgery next winter i can really hit it hard! we will see. thanks for this post, it reminds me i’m not alone lol.

  14. Vivi
    October 12, 2009

    Knee injury is the worst, followed by torn shoulder, luckily I haven’t had either. Only broke my wrist last year, then went on to Whistler/Lake Tahoe two weeks after with the cast still on. There were fractures here and there but didn’t stop me from boarding. However, I do hike a lot in the summer, and taking supplements for joints for the past year and wear knee pads while boarding. All these helps (at least I believe) and I have been hitting jumps all last season and plan to do more this year.

  15. leftcoastlarry
    October 12, 2009

    Ah yeah – bodies – can’t slide without one. Got run into (by a boarder!) last Dec. and ended up with a fractured tibia plateau. I boarded down to hill, walked to my car and drove home. Had to use my board as a crutch and tried to convince my wife it was just a bruise. Fortunately, no surgery required. One month later my leg swelled alarmingly – massive block clot (DVT) which required emergency surgery. I’m officially healed – bones mended, veins clear – and waiting for some SoCal snow. I’m hoping to get to CO. or Utah later this year.

    Thanks for the site – have a stellar year.