Every skier knows injuries come with the territory.
“Unfortunately, in this sport, it’s a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if,'” said Emma Resnick, a fifth-year member of the U.S. Ski Team’s D-Team.
Being sidelined for two-straight seasons — as Resnick has — is a little unique.
The former Vail Mountain School and Ski and Snowboard Club Vail Alpine skier tore her ACL in August of 2021. She returned to snow the following April, only to fracture her tibia and fibula that November. The 2020 Youth Olympic Games fourth-place finisher in the GS was finally back on snow again this July, just in time to join the D-Team in New Zealand a month later.
“And now I’m feeling good,” she said during the team’s recent media day at Copper Mountain, the site of her second injury. As Resnick road the lift to practice on the run that ripped her 2022-23 season away from her, she read texts from teammates sending her positive vibes on the anniversary of her crash.
“The mental hurdles definitely affect me. I’m one to hone in on that,” Resnick said. “I think just kind of leaning on my teammates has been great.”
“We’ve all been injured kind of around the same era. (We) help each other out with just saying, ‘hey let’s look at the silver linings,'” Resnick said. “This is a time that you have forced away from skiing, but what can you do with that time?”
The Dartmouth skier made a to-do list.
“Stupid things — like get my wisdom teeth out,” she said. “But it was things I had the time to do that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
The first injury — albeit unexpected — was admittedly less stressful, partially because its regularity within the Alpine community allowed Resnick to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
“It was like, ‘ok, everyone has their time where, unfortunately, they have to battle injury and rehab.’ But so many others have been through this. … I’m just going to be another one,” she said.
“The broken leg was definitely a much harder injury to tackle.”
Traversing unfamiliar territory for the less-common ski injury felt more nerve-racking, Resnick said.
“Regrowing your bone is different for everyone, so the process for that is just a little more unpredictable,” she continued. “Even though they say the recovery can be faster, it’s almost harder in a sense because you don’t know how it’s going to go.”
She leaned into her freshman classes at Dartmouth, relishing the rare opportunity to just have a “normal” year while still staying in touch with her teammates on the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) circuit. Mentally, she said there were low points.
“No doubt (I) had some struggles saying, ‘wow, I don’t know if I’m really ready to make this comeback. It’s so much effort,'” she said of the recovery process, which “took a bit longer than expected.”
“But it worked out really well. I’m so happy to be back and I’m so happy I pushed through the recovery and the dark parts where I was pretty unsure of my future in the sport.”
During the 2 1/2 years away from competition, Resnick said whenever she’d try to visualize skiing or “what she should be doing on the course,” she’s pictured her sister, Allie.
“I know her skiing better than my own at this point and I love watching her ski,” Emma said of her sister, the 2022 NorAM GS champion and 2023 slalom winner. “When she does well, it’s so exciting. I love supporting her. I think we have a strong culture of cheering each other on even though at the end of the day we’re put against each other.”
Resnick’s NorAm tech season kicks off Dec. 13-16 in Tremblant, Quebec. She said she’ll return to Dartmouth in January for her EISA carnival debut, but continue racing NorAms.
When asked what a successful season would look like, she replied, “To be honest, this year already is a success. Like, training, and really feeling like I’m back in the environment where I can push it to the next level without fear is a huge milestone.”
Still, there’s a few carrots to chase. The NCAA championships come to Steamboat Springs Mar. 6-9.
“That’s close to home,” she said. “I’ve grown up skiing around there and so I think it would be really cool to find success there.”
But for the most part, coming off another injury, the victories are manifested mentally.
“For awhile there it was just about feeling ok. I have a rod in my leg now, it’s definitely a bit different than it was before — getting used to the feeling of my skis on again was the first kind of battle,” she said.
“But now I’m feeling really good and want to just keep getting faster.”