American cross-country skier Halvorsen makes Olympic debut after severe injuries

(Xinhua) 10:40, February 09, 2022

CHONGLI, Zhangjiakou, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- In order to make the Olympic debut, American skier Hannah Halvorsen paid more than anyone else.

The 23-year-old ranked 43rd in women's sprint free qualification and failed to advance on Tuesday.

"I'm so grateful to be here and so proud of that, it wasn't my best record but I'm satisfied to be here," said she.

She suffered a skull fracture, bleeding and bruising of the brain, a tibia fracture, and completely torn left medial collateral and posterior collateral ligaments when she was hit by a car while crossing the street in 2019.

"I wasn't even able to have surgery for a month and a half because of all the bleeding in my brain," the 23-year-old said.

Although many thought her career was over, Halvorsen was still dreaming about making the Olympic Winter Games debut.

Halvorsen was introduced to cross-country skiing as a family lifestyle when she was two years old, and she started racing at 11.

"I did many sports from football, tennis, gymnastics to rock climbing, mountain biking when I was a youngster, and I focused on cross-country skiing because I saw that the dream of being an Olympian really was possible," she said

However, it can be hard to imagine recovering from such a serious injury and returning to being a world-class skier.

The American had to train how to walk again, which paid a lot of work but only have very small reward. It was about half a year until she could even start to run for 30 seconds at a time.

The reason for her to persevere still was being an Olympian.

"I thought that if I got to the Olympics, it would be a happy ending and everything would be better. But the reality is I still have a lot of challenges," said she.

It only depends on Halvorsen herself to solve the mental stress of trying to comeback, and she would still get symptoms of dizziness, headache and feeling very emotional, also the loss smell and taste, which is a pretty common symptom of a brain injury.

"How am I going to get back into this sport, particularly at the highest level, and compete against people who haven't gone through a big accident when I have?"

Life goes on anyway, Halvorsen comes out of the shadows in more than one year and believes that she has become an even more focused athlete.

"I only have so much space a day now that my brain can handle, so I couldn't waste time doing sloppy training. I'm becoming very conscientious about where I put my energy," she said.

The girl made the international competition comeback in December 2020, and was back to an even better fit, ranking seventh in women's sprint freestyle--her best record--at 2021 World Cup in Germany in December 2021, and was qualified to Beijing 2022.

"I think that I could have got to this point without the accident but it maybe would have taken me 10 years."

Halvorsen values everything in life now. She has already been involved in promoting healthy body image and the awareness of eating disorders in sport because those are near to her heart and she wants as many people as possible to enjoy sport. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


Related Stories