Dixon making good progress on comeback from leg injury
The 28-year-old from Whistler, B.C. – one of the most gifted speed skiers of his generation – had bravely fought back from several concussions when he suffered a serious tib-fib fracture during a warm-up race at the start of the 2012-13 season. It was a cruel blow for the hugely-popular member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, who had looked poised to join the ranks of the Canadian Cowboys after coming so close to the podium on several occasions.
“We are at seven months out from the injury now and I’m pretty happy with where I’m at,” said Dixon, following a dryland training session in Calgary, where the team is based this summer. “I’m feeling the strength coming back; I’m building muscle. In the gym I’m pretty much doing everything that the other boys are – power lifting, strength and whatnot. Obviously the running and jumping is not quite there yet.”
Dixon, a 2010 Olympian who finished fourth in super-G in Beaver Creek, USA, in December 2011 – missing the podium but five one-hundredths of a second – is following the team to Zermatt, Switzerland at the end of the month. While the rest of the men’s speed group takes part in its first on-snow camp of the summer, Dixon will be completing an equally important milestone of his own.
“I’m looking forward to heading over to Europe at the end of July and getting some boot work done,” Dixon explained. “I don’t have a huge bump on my leg, so I’m hoping that the boot work won’t be too extensive but I’m definitely hoping to get that stuff organized and set for the year. I haven’t actually put a boot on yet – I’m stoked.”
Concussions are among the worst injuries an elite athlete can suffer because the timeline for recovery is so individual. Dixon’s leg injury has also presented its fair share of challenges.
“It’s been a rough few years and this leg injury hurt – it hit home hard and took a while to get over it,” Dixon said. “It’s a tough one because it is an extensive injury – you’ve got to give it time and have a good balance when you are bringing the strength back.
“Looking ahead to the season I just really want to make sure I’m doing the right things for the leg so that the strength and the healing process are balanced and at the end of the day I’m back as healthy or better than I was. Once I get over the hurdle of putting that boot on I’m sure there will be a snowball effect but it will be interesting – I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”
Dixon has spent the past few months training alongside other Calgary-based members of the men’s speed team including good buddy Manuel Osburne-Paradis, John Kucera and the Pridy brothers, Morgan and Conrad. Osborne-Paradis and Kucera have plenty of words of wisdom to pass on, having both made their return from serious leg injuries last season.
“Obviously it’s a new experience for me. Other boys on the team have gone through it and I’ve learned a few things from them – talked to them a little bit about their process and then experienced it for myself,” Dixon said. “Manny and Johnny, Conrad and Morgan – those guys have got a great work ethic. It’s been good to train with them. You can really feed off each other. There’s going to be days when you don’t want to be in the gym but you have to be. We’ve got a good thing going on right now.”
While Osborne-Paradis, of Vancouver, B.C., enjoyed an incredible comeback season and looks ready to push for the podium at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, Dixon is focusing on taking things one step at a time.
“I know we’ve got a big year coming up. Sochi is fast approaching, for sure,” said Dixon, who doesn’t have a set date for returning to snow. “At the end of the day, I feel like I’ve still got some years left. I don’t want to risk it just for one race.
“It’s crazy how fast time goes. It’s hard to believe it’s been seven months already but it’s also pretty exciting. I’m really happy with how things are going.”