May 2, 2013

Wescott hopeful despite knee injury

Seth Wescott, 36, faces a comeback from serious knee surgery to be ready for the Olympics.

By Mike Lowe
Staff Writer

Seth Wescott's quest for a third gold medal in the Winter Olympics has just become a little more difficult.

click image to enlarge

Seth Wescott is planning to recover from knee surgery in time for the Olympics next February in Russia. He already has two Olympic gold medals in snowboardcross.

2011 Press Herald File

Seth Wescott
click image to enlarge

Seth Wescott


Born June 28, 1976

Two Olympic gold medals in men’s snowboardcross (in 2006, 2010), the only two times the event has been in the Games.

Lives in Carrabassett Valley

Sochi Olympics in Russia begin Feb. 7, 2014.

Wescott, the two-time gold medal winner in snowboardcross from Carrabassett Valley, suffered a knee injury on his annual snowboarding trip to Alaska recently and is recovering in Utah. He had a complete reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during an April 23 surgery.

"Everything is positive," Wescott said Wednesday from Park City, Utah, where he is rehabbing with U.S. Snowboard team physical therapists. "I hope to be ready to return to the snow in November and be ready for the qualifiers.

"This will make it a little more interesting and a little harder, but I have the time to do it."

Wescott is regarded as the face of his sport after winning gold medals in snowboardcross in the Turin Olympics (2006) and Vancouver Olympics (2010). The Sochi Olympics in Russia are scheduled to begin Feb. 7, 2014.

Wescott, 36, is confident he will be ready. "It almost takes the stress and pressure off me," he said. "It allows me to start at ground zero and build myself up. I know it's going to be tight, but I know it's entirely possible. The focusing effects of what an injury can do to you can be a positive thing."

Wescott knows a little of what he's talking about. He had reconstructive knee surgery in 2001 on his right knee and came back the following season with what he called "the best year of my career at that point."

Last year he suffered a gruesome injury during a crash, resulting in the pectoral muscle being torn from his body. He came back this year to win a World Cup race at Telluride, Colo. He finished 11th overall despite sitting out three events.

Four snowboardcross racers will qualify for the Olympics, based on results from World Cup events before the Olympics. The team may not be decided until January.

Wescott isn't sure when he will actually compete in a World Cup race but isn't concerned.

"In talking with the team coaches and physical therapists, we're looking at some January races," he said. "They've told me I don't need to rush anything to go into this. I don't need to be ready for the first week of December. They told me to be sure I'm doing the right things to make sure I'm ready for February."

Those who know Wescott well, like Alex Tuttle of Stratton, expect a full recovery in time for him to qualify for the Olympics. Tuttle, 22, is one of the up-and-coming snowboardcross racers in the U.S. and also has a strong shot to make the Olympic team. He is living and training with Wescott this summer.

"It doesn't set him back," said Tuttle. "It just changes his game plan a lot. You know, it's very common with athletes that some of them have their best seasons coming off injuries. It motivates them to get back to where they were earlier and often they end up gaining.

"He obviously can't start off where he'd like to but it's something that he can get totally under his belt before we start qualifying."

Wescott was injured April 14 while in Alaska with the noted filmmaker Warren Miller when he fell into a crevasse. They were filming a segment for L.L. Bean -- one of Wescott's primary sponsors -- on what Wescott said was a very mellow run.

But as he crested a rise, Wescott went airborne and immediately knew he was in trouble, noticing a previously unseen crevasse directly in front of him. "There was no way I could change my course," he said.

(Continued on page 2)

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