Chad Fleischer back on skis |

Chad Fleischer back on skis

Tom Boyd

Even the journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step, or in this case, a few turns down the mountain.Vail’s Chad Fleischer, who hasn’t been on skis since he tore several ligaments in his right knee Jan. 10 in Bormio, Italy, hit the slopes at Copper Mountain Oct. 30. After missing the Olympics in February, the World Cup downhiller says this marks the beginning of his journey to Turin, Italy, and the 2006 Olympics.”When you ski for a living and you haven’t done that in 10 months, that’s a long time to wait,” Fleischer said from his home in West Vail Tuesday evening, Oct. 29.Rumors of his retirement have been flying, but he wants to put them to rest.”I never had any plans for not racing another season,” he says. “From the second that I was laying on the snow, with my ski boot up next to my ear, my plan has been to go through to the 2006 Olympics in Turin (Italy).”Fleischer says he took it easy, carving gentle (for him) turns on a pair of Atomic slalom skis and getting a feel for the condition of his knee.Vail’s Dr. Richard Steadman called Fleischer’s knee the worst he had ever worked on, but Fleischer’s recovery is ahead of schedule, and Fleischer hopes to be training lightly with the U.S. and Austrian ski teams at Beaver Creek beginning Nov. 9.His off-season regiment included four hours of workouts a day, two of which were spent at the Howard Head Sports Medicine Clinic in Vail. He also went elk hunting near Steamboat, carrying heavy loads and navigating outdoor terrain.”Throwing an elk quarter on your back and hiking up the hill you climbed down to get the elk I don’t know any better way to stay in shape than that,” he says.Vail snowboarder grabs second at SoeldenStacia Hookom of Edwards was one spot away from making the Olympics in parallel GS snowboarding last February. After her near-miss, Hookom instigated a “shape up or ship out” program for her performance.In the first World Cup race of the year, that program seems to be shaping up; she earned her first podium since 1998 with a second-place finish in Soelden, Austria, Oct. 29, behind Isabelle Blanc of France.”I was a little disappointed,” Hookom says. “which sounds ridiculous when you get second place for the first time in five years, but I’ve had second place before. You know, being top 20 is good, but I’ve had that I don’t need it anymore. To justify me continuing in this sport, I need to start winning these things.”Hookom, 27, who was a sophomore biology major at the University of Colorado, put medical school on hold in recent seasons. She originally wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon but held off as she focused on riding. Soelden marked the fourth second-place finish of her career.

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