|Genevieve Simard with her trusty pooch Pearl.|
When you're recovering from one of the most difficult types of knee surgery as Canadian ski racer Genevieve Simard is, there is therapy and then there’s therapy.
Simard has had more than her fair share of physiotherapy as part of a challenging rehabilitation from an osteotomy in the spring of 2007, a surgical procedure that former hockey great Steve Yzerman likened to having his leg sawed in half when he had it performed late in his career.
This is tough sledding to be sure. It’s the kind of thing where one day it seems like things are starting to come together. And the next morning you wake up and find your knee’s ballooned up like a grapefruit and you can’t move it anymore.
That happened to Simard at a recent on-snow camp in New Zealand when she had an adverse reaction to an injection after winning a giant slalom race down there.
But Simard soldiers on in her comeback, helped in no small part by her spunky puppy Pearl.
“Pearl is a huge part of my rehab now,” Simard wrote in a email. “I have gone on countless walks, hikes with her which allowed me to really think about how I want to approach this season and so forth. I have had precious time to myself every day to think and focus on the good things, which let's face it, sometimes is hard to find (time!).
”I'm a proud mommy too! She makes me laugh every day! She is a great addition to my life. She gives me tons of energy!”
Simard is in a similar position to other Canadian veteran athletes like freestyle aerialist Kyle Nissen, where their knees are beat up to the point that they have to be judicious in the amount and kind of training that they do and hope that in the end their experience will pay dividends.
That can be a precarious balancing act, as Simard found in her first full season back last year.
“When I was doing the right things and I was able to stay calm and sort of control my mind – when I wasn’t getting carried away with results and thinking more about the process – then my skiing was great and I was focusing on my job and what I needed to do and then the results were there,” said Simard.
“It took me a while to get that intensity back. Once I was able to do that, it was much more enjoyable. … It was really the first season I had to work so hard on my mental stuff. Before, it kind of came easier. Last year, I kind of realized this is not as easy before.”