We back!

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Oh all the feels. The first turns were unreal. When I say unreal – I mean unreal. Unreal in the fact that I was uncomfortable. I cannot remember the last time I was uncomfortable on skis. It didn’t feel real to me to feel so awkward. But I had to trust my rehab and know all the work I put in to get me on snow. That in itself gave me confidence in my abilities! 

The anxiety of the unknown along the process was a challenge. How was it going to feel? Could I still do it? When I was stalling in my physical therapy I didn’t see the end in sight. I would think about skiing over and over to the point where I couldn’t sleep.

But not to worry – within a couple runs my discomfort shifted. I got my feet back underneath me. I started to feel my skis carve beneath me. I started to remember old cues my coaches had told me. I started to see the mountains how I used to. I started to smile. I started to feel again. 

I still got it guys!

But don’t rest on your laurels. I have achieved a lot, yes, but I have a lot more to achieve to be where I want to be. I am still not cleared to return to full training which entails jumping and skiing mogul courses! So for the next month I will not be training so much on snow as I will be training in the gym. I lack symmetry in the end range of force production. I am working with my PT, strength coach, and new strength coaches I have taken on to get over this hurdle. Once I pass this test I can return to training like Tal again! LFG!

💛 💛

A new milestone

(Me excited dressed in all my ski gear)

On Tuesday, I finally get to return to snow for the first time in 439 days. I know how I did it, but at the same time I don’t.

I gave it everything I had. I spent 5 days a week and hours on end in the gym. My mental strength persevered and helped push me through mental and physical obstacles when I had no answers to what was wrong with my knee. (This felt like eternity).

Thinking back to all this time away from what I love makes me feel resilient. It makes me want skiing and success that much more. I will take nothing for granted.

I feel as if I earned a big part of my life back. I didn’t feel like myself for a while there. I know it’s just the beginning of the next step, but still a big milestone to achieve. I know I have more work to put in and I will not stop.

I’ve grown a lot and learned a lot during this challenging year of recovery. I’ve learned that you HAVE to keep going even on your worst days. If you’re having a tough day, and don’t complete your workout/exercises for the day you’re gonna feel worse about it. At least if you finish what you set yourself out to do you will have some sense of accomplishment in your day; and that will hold you up.

I’m so glad all of you have tuned into my journey back to snow. I have heard the kindest of words from people near and dear to me, and even people I don’t know very well. It takes a village!

I’m excited to share my next part of my road to recovery with you.

All the love,

Tal

Frustration


What is frustration? Frustration is giving everything you have and not seeing progress. Frustration is that feeling of being discouraged. Frustration is feeling like you have gone backwards. Frustration is the unknown. This frustration has been hiding behind this smile of mine.

I have been ‘dodging’ talking about my recovery because it honestly hasn’t been going that great. It’s going a lot slower than we originally anticipated. I have been super down and have had my lowest of lows.

Every day I wake up and hope that my knee doesn’t hurt in certain positions. And that’s just not happening.

I miss skiing every single day. I’m a fighter and I will be back on top. You just wait.

💛

Keep her in the game

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Avital Shimko.

2018.

Steamboat.

I am hungry.

I am confident.

I am myself.

Earlier in the year I got a phone call to be a part of an event, Keep Her in the Game, which would be hosted on March 30th. When I received this phone call, I was hesitant. I had never spoken in public, and I for sure never opened up about the hardship of sport and why we put our bodies through what we do. I was absolutely terrified, but I said yes. I said yes because this has been an ongoing fear of mine for a long time, and I had a new obstacle to overcome.

When I got to the spotlight I was given a microphone. We watched a motivating video with the crowd before starting our panel discussion. I think my heart rate spiked to about 170 bpm. I was so nervous I thought about running to the bathroom in the back, laying on the cold tile ground, and crying. BUT… I didn’t! I started nervously talking; until I realized – it wasn’t that bad! It was really cool to see the audience listen to your story with bug eyes. You never think your story is interesting because you are living in it, its your life. But to others it is eye opening.

We covered subjects like:

How did you get into your sport?

What would you tell your high school self?

What is a challenge you have overcome?

^ ^ This question stumped me… I answered with a simple challenge that I had overcome, about a tough conversation I’ve had with one of my coaches. …but after everyone else answered I chimed back in because I realized that I was living in a challenge of coming back from injury. It blew right over my head, because like I said earlier, I was living in it. I told my story. In short – dreaming of making the US Ski Team for years and years and finally getting there. And a few months after I got there, I got injured, I had to put this dream on pause for a hot minute. The audience got teary, as did I.

Talking about why I do this, and wanting to achieve all my goals makes the grind easier. Expressing that with kids, and showing them what grit means was empowering.

I think about this event every day. Not only did it inspire the next generation of athletes, but it inspired me. I’m so happy I said yes to that phone call.

Thank you Karen for this opportunity I will always remember and be influenced by!

Spontaneous trip to Hawaii

Hello all!

Sorry I have been gone for so long, I don’t like to make excuses. So I’m not going to say that I didn’t have time. Im going to say I didn’t have anything to say.

I was stuck in a lull state. I couldn’t figure out what to do with myself. Don’t get me wrong I have been super busy with keeping up with rehab & work. What I mean with not knowing what to do, is not knowing what to occupy my mind with. My wheels are usually spinning at 100mph, but the past couple of months I feel like my mind has been on pause. Have I been afraid of boredom that I’ve stayed so busy?

I will admit that I was pretty down and was tired of the grind. My strength coach could see this in my face and body day after day. He had the great idea for me to go anywhere I wanted on my de-load week in the gym. So why not Hawaii?

This trip gave me a taste of fresh air. I am now back in the gym and more motivated than ever.

Maybe because the end goal is so near?

When I am back to being in full gear I want to answer this question. “What could you have done better in your rehab?” And I want my answer to be “Nothing.” I see this as knowing I put in everything I could.

With that being said I think a mental break is just as important as a physical break sometimes. It’s important to be able to switch gears, eat some good food, and relax for a minute.

Enjoy the process!

Happy four months!

I am so much closer to this feeling. I have made it through the toughness that comes with not being able to do what makes me me.

I have had my lowest of lows, but also my highest of highs. From little to big.

I just started to introduce plyometrics into my physical therapy sessions! This means I am jumping! Onto boxes, off of boxes and working on my quick movement.

Wow that’s so exciting Tal…

But really it is!! I haven’t left the ground on my own in 5 months… so if you can imagine I’m pretty stoked about it. Because jumping is my favorite part of what I do, and I am that much closer.

I am taking advantage of opportunity I would otherwise not have time to do. I never thought I would be working a desk job. I never thought I’d be taking a college course. I never thought so much good could come from what I thought was the worst thing.

As always, grinding it out in the gym and seeing major improvement in my symmetry & strength gains.

#nolookingback

I hate these posts.

Negativity kills me.

I don’t understand what good this post does to anyone? Let them procrastinate their goals even longer..? And think that’s ok?

If you have a goal go out today and get started on it. Don’t let the negativity on the internet make you feel better about yourself.

It’s a trap.

Perspective.

Social media is a lie. I say this from the thousands and thousands of hours I have probably spent scrolling.

Everyone’s life is perceived to be amazing. I’m not totally sure what happens behind closed doors, because I can assure you they don’t want you to see that side.

We only see the good. And we get extremely jealous. I think I speak for everyone when I say that.

Don’t, I repeat don’t judge anyone’s life by their social media feed. It may be the best moments in their life, this is true, but think about how many more hours are in their day. Not just that one split second.

Be cautious about where your brain wanders. It has eaten my brain alive at times and I don’t want it to trick others.

As a good Jewish girl might say, it’s a Bubbamisah. ✡️

Be true.

I received some really good advice from some amazing people during this tricky tough time of not being able to ski.

The two phrases of wisdom hit hard. In a good way. A way that made me want to work harder. These phrases are both negative for some reason, but you know what they say about constructive criticism.🤷‍♀️

The first one was “it’s gonna suck”. I was like hmm… that’s harsh. But honestly I had an expectation. A real expectation. It wasn’t covered in sugar and that makes it easier in the long term. Not the short term though. Face to face in the moment it can be tough to be honest about what’s next, but honestly it was a realistic expectation. Going in knowing that, and knowing that down the road everything will be fine is achievable. It’s the beginning that sucks. Right you were. Whoever you are fighting it will suck for a bit. And that’s no fun, but I sure hope the outcome is back to where you want to be. Embrace the shitty part. Laugh at yourself.

The second one that stood out to me was “nobody cares”. & damn is that true. This doesn’t mean I didn’t love the well wishes you all sent me, don’t get me wrong. That got me through more than you know. What this means is that it’s your personal battle. It’s your issue. People feel sympathy, yes. But then they go on with their life and think about you here and there. You are living it every day. People move on, people forget.

No single individual can put in the work for you.

Thank you everyone for being the best. Such amazing people by my side. What would I do without you?

Salmon goggles;

DSC_1058Hello!

If you asked me what my favorite piece of equipment was, I would have to say my goggles. Goggles are one of the only ways to show your personality when on the hill.

The other pieces would be helmets & ski boots. But for the most part you usually get your favorite model boot, so you don’t have a say on the color. And a black helmet is usually my go to. I have been in uniform from club team to the national team uniform, and lets face it, we all look the same.

Except for our “identity” pieces.

Identity is who you are, it’s how you carry yourself. These pieces are weirdly important, if you feel good, you perform ‘good’. (I know it should be well but I wanted it to be in sync). Being excited about what you get to wear almost everyday is a game changer.

I ordered these goggles two days before I injured myself, and when I got home they were on my doorstep. Most of us are usually excited to receive a package on your doorstep, but this one had a series of mixed emotions. I was happy and sad at the same time. Yes they were my new favorite goggles, yes I knew it would be a long time until I got to wear them.  BUT another thing to look forward to!

I am appreciating all the little things. I am so fortunate. I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to live the life I live.

For now I will be a little kid on Hannukah running around wearing my new equipment. ❤

 

 

Happy two months post OP!

DSC_0639Today marks two months post ACL & meniscus operation. What have I been up to?

Physical therapy gets more intensive, which means I am improving!! I am going to PT MWF and seeing lots of progress! I am at about 140 degrees of flexion in my knee, just short of full flexion! I am biking everyday to keep the blood flowing and help minimize the swelling. I have started doing single leg activities as well! This past weekend I introduced single leg squats (with a chair under me). The first few were terrifying because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it. The more I fought the easier they became which, after the fact,  felt really rewarding. More excitingly my quad is starting to get stronger! It is a lot less jiggly and I can feel the muscle starting to come back. This is good! This may sound weird, but my goal is to get my right leg back to being the same size as my left. Atrophy is a wild thing. Protein is my BFF.

Enough of the boring stuff already Avital! Jeez.

I honestly thought this time would go by way slower than it has. I can’t believe it has already been two months. I can do most things the human body is suppose to do. That makes me really happy.

I am staying busy, that’s for sure! Recently I bought a camera, because tear your ACL and buy a camera they said. Ha! My skills are a work in progress, but I am super excited about it.

I applied to college, crazy!!! I am applying non-traditional because I just want to take a few classes on what interests me. This being nutrition & photography classes.

Life is good. I really can’t complain other than the fact I’m not skiing right now.

On another note I am discovering a lot of things about Park City that I never knew existed. I am running into familiar faces and it is starting to feel like home. The community vibe is starting!!

Hope you all did some good holiday shopping. I know did!

Muah! Xoxo for now ❤️

 

It only gets easier from here.

Yesterday my squad departed for the beginning of the World Cup tour in Ruka, Finland. Today I am going to a walking class at the center of excellence.

I really can’t complain about my progress and walking, that is all going extremely well. I just miss doing what I love most.

With an injury you are fighting a lot of battles. Mostly mentally. Everything is so much harder than it used to be and sometimes it makes you feel demoralized. Yesterday I did an exercise in PT that made me want to have a mental breakdown. I was on the verge of tears, but somehow held it in. I have to remind myself that this is when you do the hard work. The fun work comes later. Work hard. Play hard.

I miss my crew a lot, I just joined them in April but they made me feel so welcome, like I belonged. It’s tough not being on the road with them, but hopefully I make it to a few competitions this year to spectate & hang out with my team. I’m excited for a new perspective; I believe there is always a lot to learn.

For now I will be cheering them on! If I can’t compete, I only wish for my favorite people to slay!! Let’s go team!

I am working hard and finding good distractions to keep me occupied!

I bought a camera so hopefully my photos get cooler!

Eat some yummy turkey peeps. 🦃

This day –

The day before I got injured I did some of my first Cork 7’s on snow. I did a total of seven of them. I stomped them all and I had the biggest smile on my face throughout. Nothing could beat the feeling, I was on cloud nine.

When thinking about returning to sport I think about these moments. I think about my qualifications run at US Selections last year. “Here it is” by Flo Rida (featuring chris brown) was on the speaker. (My boyfriend did some research to figure out what song it was). To this day nothing gets me more amped than that song.

https://youtu.be/E9Rd4QYAJMU

That feeling of success when you can’t wipe that smile off your face is unexplainable. When you know your hard work is paying off. Those moments are precious.

This is my motivation.

Keep on keeping on!

Confidence

What does confidence even mean? To me confidence means being able to be yourself. The fun goofy you at age six.

Some people are born with it, others are not. Some people maintain it throughout their life, some do not. Some never had any to begin with.

I fall somewhere in the middle. I was born as one of the most confident people in the world. I would walk up to strangers asking for money for candy. I asked a homeless person for a quarter for a gum-ball.. what was I thinking! You may see this as being really sad and asking how could you do this? Well I was super young and I clearly didn’t know any better. And looking back at it the fact that he could help someone out probably made his day! That feeling is tough to achieve when you don’t have anything to give.

As a child I was the loudest person in the room and I didn’t care what anybody thought.

The switch flipped.

I lost this fearlessness my senior year of high school. I became quiet and reserved. I started wearing girls clothing and I was awkward. I wasn’t comfortable. Prior to that to say I used to be a tom boy would be an understatement.

I now have started to gain my confidence back, facing my fears and approaching people. But for a few years that was really tough. I was embarrassed to ask questions and speak up. Now I understand where and when I can talk but I still tend to be quieter.. who knew..? Not me!

I still need to remind myself daily that it’s ok to be wrong. It’s ok to ask questions. And to laugh at myself when I’m embarrassed! It’s all a learning curve.

Speak up!

“Pedaling as fast as I can” beautiful Opa

Opa, I think I have found the words.

You made people better people, and you made the world a better place.

Without saying it you embraced a calming, loving essence everywhere you went. You lived a no stress life and it made everybody around you so happy and relaxed.

You really helped mom not get overwhelmed with five kids and a busy New York City life. She looked up to you and your beautiful actions a lot. I know she will hold on to that for eternity. We realize that sad is a forever emotion of losing you, but we are embracing all of you and the amazing moments. We are talking about you, and sharing everything we thought you would enjoy on a daily basis.

Often times people try to forget about death, and they live on with their everyday life. That’s not the case here. We include you in everything and you are forever apart of the Hendell-Shimko clan! Thank you for writing ‘Pedaling as fast as I can’. It is so unbelievable to have all your stories from the holocaust and your life in written form to look back on. I’m so happy I got twenty two years with you.

You were an amazing man.

I love you and miss you so much. 💛

For the love of coffee

Coffee is hands down the worlds best drink. It is my drink of choice day in and day out.

I get out of bed, because coffee. I run errands, because coffee. I get outside, because coffee. I excel in my workouts, because coffee. You get it.

I think I have thought more about coffee (nerd) recently because I am constantly having to ice my knee, thus making me cold. I immediately know the answer to this…>> coffee!

Also since my injury my motivation has plateaued. I have my eye on the prize, but some days it seems so far away. The gains that I have made so far are substantial, but the rate is unfortunately slow.

Coffee gives you that extra boost or slap on the ass you need! Get out there!

Doubly whammy!

✌️ Drink more coffee.

One month post OP!

I AM WALKING!

Today marks one month post knee operation. A month ago I never thought I would be where I am right now.

Yesterday, October 24th, I got cleared to walk without crutches! I have been dreaming of this day since the beginning. Initially I thought I would be walking earlier because I only thought my ACL had to be replaced, but that wasn’t the case. After knowing I had both meniscus’s repaired I knew it would take more time.

The beautiful thing about walking that you take for granted is being able to hold things in your hands. I don’t have to rely on anyone anymore to carry my coffee &/or food to the table. I can clean up around the house, I have so much freedom that I never realized until I got it taken away from me.

During this month I have watched movies & TV shows I never thought would interest me. For people who know me this is a big step because I hate television. I have discovered/ rediscovered hobbies such as bracelet making, writing, goal setting (baby steps), and have had a lot more time to talk to my friends and family. I am closer to people than I have ever been.

My biggest accomplishment so far is being in the moment. I hated the fact that I would get distracted and not pay attention to people/ things I know I should pay attention to. As I look back I realize this happened because I was glued to my phone. I am a lot happier putting my phone down now knowing that everything doesn’t have to be answered immediately.

On the rehab side of things everything is going super well and smoothly. I currently have about three hours of just knee exercises a day. I am working on my quad strength and range of motion. Yesterday I flexed my knee to one hundred and six degrees! I am seeing progress every day and that keeps me motivated to keep putting in the work.

#workhardplayhard

Find your passion

I have loved going skiing every day since I was first introduced at the young age of two. I was a little girl, with big eyes and big dreams. During my childhood I would skip school every Friday in the winter with my family to travel up to Stratton, VT or to competitions elsewhere. I got started in the freestyle mogul program when I was about six, the same year I did my first competition @ Okemo, VT!

Through middle school and high school skiing was my “out”. I never had good grades, nor did I care to. When I was in class all I would think of was the next time I would ski. In ninth grade I am pretty sure I cried to my parents every single night to go to a boarding school in Steamboat, Colorado. At the time called The Lowell Whiteman School. In tenth grade, two weeks before the school year started, I applied. I interviewed, got in, and started packing up my life!

This experience shaped me into who I am today. I had to learn a lot on my own, forcing me to be independent and responsible.

I trained with the Steamboat Springs Winter sports club during my time in “the boat”. My coaches were hard on me and I can’t thank them enough for that. Having people hold you to a high standard is tough at first, and you hate it because you’re not used to it. But then, you realize that they have your best interest in mind and they’re only being hard on you because they care and they want you to grow as an athlete and an individual.

My journey in Steamboat is currently done with, but I depart with the happiest of memories and the best of friends. I believe I spent my crucial years there. I had my “phases”; boy clothes, drugs, dreadlocks, dyed hair and questioning who I wanted to be. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Without these experiences I wouldn’t know what the other side was like, and that didn’t sit right with me. I needed to test all the waters. This has allowed me to connect with people on all sorts of different levels and understand them and their background. I am fortunate to have been able to have those opportunities in high school and have a better understanding of the beautiful people and world we live in.

Keep your eyes open.

The day I got stronger

8A700D8A-9A77-41AF-8235-3F7B8FE493D3August 24th 2018.

On this very day, training up in Mt. Hood, Oregon I got the news that I had torn my ACL. I was training on our jump site and working on back fulls(backflip with a 360). I had been training them all summer and they had been going super well! Unfortunatley I had a fluke landing and my knee didn’t agree with it. I ended up flying home that night, and got an MRI the next morning. The news was in, ACL tear, medial and lateral meniscus tear, MCL strain and bone bruising. This was the hardest pill to swallow. What was suppose to be the best year of my life turned into a season ending injury. Lucky for me all my friends and family reached out and kept me in good spirits. I kept the tears to myself for when no one was around. I would let myself have a (short) pitty party, and then I would turn to the positives. I remind myself constantly of the rest my body probably needs, the new hobbies I have found, the chance to discover amazing things that I may have never had the opportunity to do. Surprisingly every thing that I thought used to be “stupid” now interests me. For example we have animal planet on in the physical therapy room, and all of a sudden realized how fascinating the fins on a fish are. It’s the little things!

Thanks for reading!

Intro to me:

2018-19 U.S. Freestyle Moguls Team Photo: U.S. Ski & SnowboardHey guys! Thanks for coming to my blog. I am a 22 year old mogul skier on the US Ski Team and unfortunatley just sustained an injury. Thus giving me time to create a blog! Here I will share my stories, adventures, hard times, good times and anything else that comes to mind. Please join me on my journey and road to recovery!