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Chandra Crawford to have Season-Ending Leg Surgery

Mon, Feb  16, 2009 - By Cross Country Canada

CANMORE, Alta.—Olympic gold medallist, Chandra Crawford will undergo surgery to her injured leg, which will prevent her from competing for the remainder of the season.

The following is a brief Q&A with Chandra after receiving news she will not be able to compete this season.

What is the nature of your injury and its status?

I have Compartment Syndrome in my shins, which means the muscles are too cramped in their sheaths and all this pressure seriously affects the nerves and blood vessels in the lower leg. I've managed it off and on for the past four years, but in November, it flared up during a hard running time trial on the steep Canmore Nordic Centre trails which led to a bone bruise on the bottom of my mid-foot and damage to the tendon that goes over my outer ankle.

A lot of skiers get Compartment Syndrome from all the running and lower leg stabilizing required in skate skiing. I have talked to seven fellow skiers who have had this surgery, including Sara Renner. I model a lot of my actions after Sara as much as possible but this is too much!
 
Why have you had to take the season off to have surgery?


It's taken much of the winter just to figure out how all these lower leg problems are connected, but it is now very clear that I need a surgical procedure to alleviate the pressure in both my shins and this will likely improve circulation and help things with the ankle tendon as well.

Our race season is five months long, and for the first three I maintained optimism that I would get to race at some point this winter. However, it is reassuring to know that I now have this positive diagnosis to partially explain why things haven't been healing as I'd anticipated.

How frustrating is this for you while your teammates are getting set to compete at the World Championships?


I was born to race and when that is taken away from you it is definitely frustrating. It has been a tough few months, and when I think about my team out there traveling and racing while I'm hanging out, missing races and barely training my other syndrome, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) really acts up and I'm super frustrated.

However, since I have made these plans for surgery, and was able to finally let go of the race season, I've felt much more grounded and comfortable this is the right decision. I continue to enjoy the support of wonderful friends and family and have worked a lot on my organization Fast and Female (www.fastandfemale.com).

What will your rehabilitation process be?

After the surgery I will be gradually reacquainting my body with the amount of exercise it usually likes over a period of two months. It also takes a lot of time for the body to form the new pathways opened up when that pressure is relieved. My goal is to be training full-time with the team in May.

How will you spend your time over the next two months while you cannot compete/train?

I'm really excited about my Fast and Female program as we planning an awesome event for the end of March in Calgary. With the best ski racers in the country as their inspiring instructors, 150 girls will be lucky enough to spend the day skiing, doing yoga, hip-hop dancing, biathlon and meeting some of the finest role models this country has to offer at our 2009 Fast and Female Ski Festival so I will focus a lot of my time on this event.

Other than that, I have enjoyed a lot of live stadium commentating at races in the area. Canadian Selection races in Canmore in early January, World Cups in Whistler and Biathlon World Juniors in Canmore meant I spent a total of 10 days in January working on my pump-up playlists and attempting to entertain with my insights while announcing at the races. This was awesome especially when Alex Harvey and George Grey were on the podium in Whistler, and when my sister Rosanna was racing World Juniors in Canmore.

Does this set you back in your quest to defend gold in 2010?

It's never ideal to have this much time off, but if there was an ideal time for it to happen then I guess I have hit the jackpot. I had an amazing training season in the spring, summer and fall of 2008 so was really looking forward to testing out my new skills and fitness in some classic sprints on the World Cup. But, if I have learned anything as an athlete, it's that the great highs are born out of the motivation I get after a deep low and I will be the most excited, grateful, motivated and rested girl out there on skis once I get through this.

What is your timeline like to get back training and on snow?


I'm getting surgery on February 17th (a super-lucky day considering it's the date of the sprint in 2010!) and would really love to be on skis for our March 28th Fast and Female event, but we'll have to see how it goes. My other learning with this injury is patience is key!!! I fully intend to have a top-notch bod ready to push it to the limit and beyond by May in preparation for the opportunity of a lifetime to race at a home Olympics in February 2010.