Vail’s Littman ready for another sabbatical |

Vail’s Littman ready for another sabbatical

Ian CroppVail, CO Colorado
AP File PhotoJulia Littman hurt her knee early last season, but will be back with the U.S. Team next year.

VAIL, Colorado The hardest part of recovering from a season-ending injury isnt always the physical aspect.For many athletes, especially those who have never sat out for an extended period of time, the prospect of a long recovery can be mentally daunting.Fortunately for the U.S. Ski Teams Julia Littman, she had other things to worry about, like college. When Littman, a former Ski Club Vail athlete, blew out her knee early last season, she decided to resumer her studies at the University of Chicago in January.It was great. Im so glad I had this option, Littman said. It kept my mind occupied. At the same time, I went to physical therapy full-time. It was great to be busy and in a new place it made me want the skiing aspect so much more.In her third year with the U.S. Team, Littman was excited to get in some more World Cup races, especially after a stellar finish the previous year. At the 2007 U.S. Alpine Championships, Littman took second in the downhill and fifth in the super-G. But before she could get any starts in, Littman tore her ACL and meniscus in November.That was my first big injury where I missed a substantial part of the season, Littman said.Its always tough to see the kids get hurt, said U.S. Ski Team alpine director Jesse Hunt. She was progressing well at the Nor-Am level.While still on crutches, Littman traveled to Aspen to cheer on her teammates in their only World Cup home races of the season. And even when she was at school, Littman followed the team and the World Cup closely.Being a fan was fun, but it made me miss it a lot, Littman said.After her injury, Littman was a bit nervous about her status for the following season, but most of her fears were assuaged when officials told her shed be given a bid. About three weeks ago, Littman got a call from the new womens head alpine coach, Jim Tracy, and accepted the bid to the C team.Were looking forward to getting her back, Hunt said. Hopefully shell come back strong. Before she gets back on snow, Littman, a Vail Mountain School graduate, has some final exams to take care of. She recently declared as a political science major and is getting most of her core requirements out of the way in her last quarter of sophomore year. In 2003, Littman started college at Middlebury in Vermont, before making the U.S. Team.I was 21 when I made the team, Littman said. Im kind of a late bloomer.Littman then transferred to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire a popular school among U.S. Team members. Chicago seems to be a good fit for Littman, who plans on going to graduate school.Im just trying to get through biology now, she said.

Much like attending Dartmouth, sustaining a severe injury is an unofficial right of passage among U.S. Ski Team members.Keely (Kelleher) is one of my good friends, and she has been really supportive and told me about her experience. Ive also talked with Libby (Ludlow) and Caroline (Lalive) Littman said, referring to others who have been injured. Keely thinks, and I believe, it makes you stronger in the end and more resilient, as long as you work hard, and thats what I plan to do.After finishing up her quarter at school, Littman will be back in Vail this summer training with Ski & Snowboard Club Vails strength and conditioning coach J.C. Cole. Littman plans to make it back on the snow in late June, and is looking forward to her new coach.Im a big fan of Jim, she said. When I heard the news (of his hiring) I was super psyched.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or the Vail Daily will have a story about Hunter Schleper, another Vail athlete who received a U.S. Ski Team bid.

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