VAIL — The banner said “We love Heidi,” but you didn’t need to read it to know that was the case.
Welcoming hometown Olympian Heidi Kloser back to Vail on Monday were a collection of people who have known the 21-year-old mogul skier her whole life and whose faces were brimming with pride as she thanked them for being there.
“Your support has been amazing. I couldn’t have done it without you guys,” Kloser said on Monday.
Included in the group was James Deighan, of Highline Sports and Entertainment: “I was certain she was going to medal,” Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot: “Thanks for representing our community so incredibly well,” and Dr. Steven Yarberry, who delivered Heidi: “She’s just a great girl.”
HEARTBREAK TO EXCITEMENT
A common theme expressed by many of those who spoke at the event was the heartbreak they felt when Kloser injured her knee on the first day of training in Sochi, which left her unable to compete at this year’s Games, and the excitement they’re already feeling from the idea of her skiing in the 2018 Olympics.
“I know you’re going to be there in Korea, and we’re going to be there with you,” said John Garnsey, Vail Resorts’ president of global mountain development.
FOCUSING ON THE PRESENT
While Heidi has said explicitly that the 2018 Olympics are among her goals, her parents said her focus is more immediate.
“Heidi looks at the present. She’s saying, ‘I have to recover and get back into World Cups,’” Heidi’s mother, Emily Kloser, said Monday.
Heid Kloser will likely receive ACL surgery on the injured knee in a week or so. Until then, she’s trying to keep the swelling down and the positivity up.
“She’s been through surgery before, so she’ll approach it in the same manner, heal up and strengthen as much as she can as quickly as she can,” her father, Mike Kloser, said Monday. “She’ll head out to training camps in Park City (and) work on physical therapy. She’ll be on a good program.”
While it’s not absolutely certain, Heidi Kloser will likely wait for the U.S. Ski Team physician and surgeon Dr. Bill Sterett, of Vail Summit Orthopeadics, to come back from Sochi to perform the surgery, her father said. Sterett is also a Vail Valley local.
“When I got hurt ... it was just so encouraging to have this whole community behind me,” Heidi Kloser said.
Follow Heidi Kloser on her website, www.heidikloser.com.