Local snowboarder facing battle after breaking back
Rose Raevsky’s story has changed since January.
On Jan. 15, 2009, Raevsky’s tale would have been of a 2007 Grand Junction High School graduate not only pursuing professional snowboarding, but succeeding in the winter sport.
The 19-year-old Raevsky had sponsorships with Zero Gloves, Bonfire, Salomon, and Tall T productions as she began the quest that she hoped would lead to someday competing in the Olympics.
It wasn’t just a dream.
Raevsky was a member of Project Gold, where top juniors are chosen to train with the U.S. national team coaching staff for a week, and are seen as the future of the sport.
Raevsky was one of four girls who competed for the USA in the International Ski Federation Junior World Championships in Valmalenco, Italy. She finishing 21st overall at the event.
Raevsky’s snowboarding had taken her to train in New Zealand as well as a World Cup event in Saas Fe, Switzerland.
Things were looking up for Raevsky, until Jan. 16, at Copper Mountain Ski Resort.
Raevsky was at a Rev Tour event, and during her training run in the slopestyle event went into a jump with too much speed.
“They paint the jumps with blue paint so you know where the landing is during bad weather, and I saw all the blue lines go away,” Raevsky said. “There was a box after the lines and I thought I was going to hit it so I flinched and landed crooked, and that’s how I broke my back.”
Raevsky’s fall caused her L5 vertebra to burst.
“It didn’t hurt very bad, but my legs and feet were burning,” Raevsky said. “I knew it wasn’t good.”
Raevsky was rushed to Vail Valley Medical Center for X-rays that showed the damage to her lower back. Dr. Donald Corenman performed the surgery on Raevsky that fused her L4, L5 and S1 vertabrae.
When Raevsky came out of surgery, she got the bad news.
“They told me I probably was never going to board again,” Raevsky said. “When I heard that
I told my mom I would. I knew I could get back and I don’t know if that’s all I want to do, but I wanted to be strong enough to where I can do it.”
While training, Raevsky had been living in Vail with a host family, but after the injury she returned to Grand Junction with specific orders from her doctors: Don’t do anything.
During the first part of her recovery, Raevsky was allowed to walk four times a day for only five minutes at a time.
“It sounds easy, but it’s hard to not do anything,” Raevsky said. “But I focused on not doing anything, I can’t even begin to tell you how many movies I watched, and mindless Internet games I played.”
Today, the rest has helped Raevsky, now 20, come back faster than five months into her recovery. She has had her back brace taken off and spends two to three hours a day in a pool walking. She’s continuing to rehab with the focus of getting back on the mountain.
“I should be able to cruise by the end of January or February,” Raevsky said. “I want to go back and do Grand Prix, and get into the top 5 .”
Despite enduring a painful back injury, Raevsky isn’t giving up her goal. But she is going to take it slow.
“I am really scared of falling because if I fall straight on my butt I could be in danger of hurting it again,” Raevsky said. “I will have to be very careful the whole time.”
The uphill battle is nothing new to Raevsky, who has always felt like she was an underdog in the sport. She began snowboarding at age 12, which she said is generally five years later than most of her competition. She was able to overcome that obstacle, and plans to do the same with her back.
“Because I didn’t start that young I had to work really hard to catch up to everyone else,” Raevsky said. “I was right there when I got hurt, but I caught up once. I can catch up again.”