Andrea Limbacher is a true family person: both when it comes to her actual family and to her family at the skiing association. “I don’t think there are many associations like the Austrian Skiing Association. The trainers, the physical therapists – they all take such a load off my shoulders and they support me whenever I need help,” says the 28-year-old.
What we are doing is far from ordinary.
Ups and Downs
This kind of support is extremely important for any elite athlete, but especially for Andrea, whose career has seen many ups and downs. Seemingly every milestone achievement was followed by devastating injury, setting Andrea back a long way in training.
“What we are doing is far from ordinary, of course,” says Andrea. “We are all aware of the fact that there are certain risks involved in ski cross racing. This is why we train a lot and try to prevent injuries as best we can. So it is all the more disappointing when something does happen.”
“I experienced my first injury-related setback in 2010. I tore the cruciate ligament in my right knee, just before the Olympic Games,” says Andrea. She still competed in Vancouver that year, but did not perform at her best. “It was still an important learning process for me. I realized at that time that I have to give my body time to heal.”
I really wrecked my knee.
With time Andrea’s knee seemed to fully recover from the fall in 2010, so she was hit all the harder by the diagnosis she received three years later.
“That was certainly my worst injury to date,” she recalls. “I really wrecked my knee.”
In a bizarre twist, this injury wasn’t even caused by a skiing accident. Her knee just buckled unexpectedly. Experts say further injuries can be caused by a so-called “giving-way episode,” and this was the case for Andrea.
“During surgery, the doctors found that the cruciate ligament wasn’t fully intact. The meniscus was also affected and on top of this I had rather bad cartilage damage,” the ski cross athlete remembers.
Painful healing process
Rehabilitation was a lot more painful and tedious this time. The severity of the injury was an additional blow.
“I really didn’t expect that. At first I thought I had just torn my cruciate ligament again and after a break of a few months, everything would be back to normal,” says Andrea.
Instead, she had to face the fact that her right knee would never fully return to its original condition. This wasn’t a death sentence for her racing career, though. Andrea won a gold medal at the 2015 World Cup race in Kreischberg.
“Right after the diagnosis I set myself targets and I tried to get back in shape as quickly as possible,” Andrea reflects. “There was no room for negative thinking.”
[GenuTrain] gave me some extra security during those first few months of training.
Yet Another Setback
Only two years later in 2017, Andrea experienced another injury. She tore her cruciate ligament, once again. The big shock: this time, her left knee was affected.
“That was really tough. My left knee had always been solid as a rock and that was something I felt I could rely on,” says Andrea. “I really didn’t see this coming, so it hit me very hard.”
This injury was less severe than the previous one on her right knee, and with the help of her doctors, trainers, and Bauerfeind her recovery has been more swift.
“I put on the SecuTec Genu right away at the hospital. I was really impressed by it because it allowed full freedom of movement,” she says. “When you tear your cruciate ligament, it is very important that you’re able to fully extend your knee immediately. Later on I wore the GenuTrain. I use it during rehabilitation. It gave me some extra security during those first few months of training.”
With Korea in her sights just months from this latest injury, Andrea wasted no time. “In elite sports, it is extremely important for us athletes to get back into the sport as quickly as possible,” she explains. “Right now I am feeling well and I hope to be able to catch up again quickly.”