From the moment she hit the snow and slid towards the nets, Valérie Grenier saw her “athlete’s life” unfold.
It’s not that she was afraid of losing her skin. Or that she dreaded the pain that much. What she was really afraid of: a long rehabilitation, a process that she knows too well.
The last one caused him to miss an entire season, but the consequences were felt for almost five years. In a way, she had barely come out of it, with proof of her unexpected third place two days earlier in Cortina d’Ampezzo, her first World Cup descent since a serious accident in the winter of 2019.
“The first thought I had was: ‘Oh no, I really don’t want to rehab, really don’t want to be hurt!” I saw my life as an athlete pass before my eyes. It can’t be. Not yet ! »
On the phone, the voice of the 27-year-old skier seems scratched. The words are that of a resigned competitor, already ready to put in the hours in the gym in the hope of getting back on her skis as soon as possible.
Having undergone surgery on one arm last week in Innsbruck, Grenier is back at the family home in Lefebvre, in eastern Ontario, awaiting a second, more delicate surgery to repair her damaged knee.
On January 28, the Mont-Tremblant representative was heading towards an almost certain podium in super-G on the famous Olimpia delle Tofane track, when a wrong maneuver in a turn threw her into the air, causing her to almost spin. complete at nearly 100 km/h. At the time, she had a “weird” feeling in her right knee.
“I was worried about my knee. I thought it was probably an anterior cruciate ligament or something. I was stuck on my left side and I realized that I was not able to move my arm. It wasn’t normal. It started to hurt a little, especially my shoulder. »
The rescuers quickly gave her a painkiller before wrapping her up and placing her on a sled, a maneuver that was not without difficulty given that they had to lift her by the shoulders.
Her trainer Laurent Praz and physiotherapist Alexandre Gariépy, who was feeling bad near the starting gate, then joined her.
“I looked at them and couldn’t stop crying. It hurt a little, but that wasn’t it. It was more bad knowing that my season was surely over and that I was going to rehab. It hurt my heart. Things were going so well. Racing is what I love. It was difficult to accept. »
She was transported to a sort of makeshift infirmary, where her boot was removed and her suit cut up, for an initial assessment of her shoulder. She went by ambulance to a hospital in Cortina. After X-rays, medical staff concluded that he had a dislocated shoulder. She was therefore put under anesthesia to replace the joint.
When I woke up, I had severe nausea and didn’t feel well for hours.
In the evening, lying in the front seat of the team van, the Franco-Ontarian got as best she could to a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, where she could receive more advanced care for her situation.
After a magnetic resonance imaging exam the next day, she waited for a diagnosis, crossing her fingers that her right knee would not be too badly affected. A few hours later, an orthopedist told her that her shoulder was not dislocated, that she was instead suffering from a displaced fracture of the humerus! She also suffered a torn biceps tendon.
The hammer blow came next: complete rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament and partial tear of the internal lateral ligament. “I started crying because that’s exactly what I didn’t want to hear. »
Grenier had surgery on his arm two days later. In addition to reattaching the tendon, the orthopedist inserted a plate along the bone which he secured with nine screws. She will have to deal with this impressive hardware for a period of 8 to 12 months. It should then be removed so that she can regain full mobility.
With her arm in a sling, she left the Austrian hospital on Sunday, in preparation for the procedure on her right knee, which must take place on Monday in Laval. She decided to begin her rehabilitation at the Institut national du sport du Québec, at the Olympic Park.
“It will be a little easier because I will have access to everything there. I will be able to spend my full days there, do my physio, a little training, use the hot and cold baths, etc. There really is everything you need. »
“It feels ch…”
At the time of his injury, Grenier was ninth in the overall World Cup standings and fifth in giant slalom, both personal bests. In addition to her downhill podium, she won the second victory of her career during the giant Kranjska Gora, in Slovenia, on January 6.
“That’s amazing… because I wasn’t far from being at the top of my game!” I skied well in all disciplines. It was so much fun, so encouraging. It breaks my heart that this is happening at a time like this. At the same time, I am very positive. I believe I will be able to return to this level as soon as I start skiing again. I know my skiing, I know how to ski, it’s quite natural. »
As for the psychological blockage that kept her away from speed events for a few seasons, she can only hope to have put it behind her permanently. “That’s a good question, we’ll see when we get there. »
Convinced that her fitness plan will go well, Valérie Grenier would like to be able to put her skis back on for the traditional training course in Chile at the end of August. In an ideal world, she sees herself returning to competition almost at the same time as her colleagues, somewhere in November or December.