Photo: Alpine Canada Alpin/Pentaphoto

training for
the olympics...
then disaster

On January 8, the world stopped for Canadian alpine skier Jan Hudec.Racing along a training run in Wengen, Switzerland, he caught an edge at 155 kilometres per hour, only 15 seconds before finishing his run.

Coming down hard on his right knee,Hudec heard a pop and felt a wave of pain.He knew what was happening. He had felt this pain twice before.

"I had a total sense of defeat and helplessness. In that moment I felt physically beaten," Hudec remembers.

Until that moment, Hudec had been on a career high. In November he achieved his first World Cup victory in a downhill race in Lake Louise, Alberta in front of the coaches and people who had seen him develop over the years skiing on those very mountains. Then in January, one week before the fall, he won a third place trophy in the World Cup downhill in Italy. At the beginning of 2008, Jan waslisted as fourth in the World Cup downhill rankings, and the top Canadian, ranking tenth in the overall standings. This was to be his year to make it to the top of the podium.

Having torn the same anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) twice before, Hudec has always skied with some level of adversity against him. In 2003 his knee was repaired in an operation in British Columbia, and in 2004 it was operated on in London, Ontario by renowned orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Robert Litchfield, Medical Director of the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic.

This time Jan says, "There was never a question of where to go."

Airlifted off the hill and transferred to a hospital in Switzerland, Jan was assessed by team doctors, then sent here to London the next morning.

After reviewing Jan's MRI, Litchfield concluded that it was a clean tear. Jan underwent surgery the next day. Thesurgery involved using tissue from a donor tissue bank to construct a new ACL.

"After the third tear, we decided to go ahead and do a double bundle reconstruction to further strengthen and secure the motion of the knee," Litchfield explains.

Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic

Since 1974, the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic has provided specialized sport medicine care for elite athletes and active members of the community, both young and old. The clinic was founded by Dr. Peter Fowler and the late Dr. Jack Kennedy, two prominent LHSC orthopaedic surgeons and professors in the Faculty of Medicine at The University of Western Ontario.

LHSC's sport medicine clinic offers the services of a multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic surgeons, physicians, physiotherapists, radiologists and nurses at its three facilities.

Quality patient care, education, prevention and groundbreaking research, combined with the leadership and dedication of world-renowned surgeons, have positioned the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic at the forefront of its field. The clinic is one of the largest, most comprehensive sport medicine clinics in North America.

Litchfield himself is well versed on the common injuries elite skiers can sustain.A member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team medical group, and an associate of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine, Litchfield's clinical and research interests include athletic injuries to the knee.

Now back home, Jan is working through his recovery and rehabilitation at the Calgary Olympic Park. Four days after his surgery he was on the stationary bike. Jan plans on hitting the slopes at training camp in South America this August, only six months after surgery.

"Right now it is an intense and painful process. I know what recovery looks like. I am trying to do as much as I can now, so that I'm ready before I get on the snow," says Hudec.

Litchfield keeps a watchful eye on this skier, whom he calls, "the best thing since the Crazy Canuck days." He e-mails and calls regularly, and is in contact with Kent Kobelka, Jan's physiotherapist in Alberta.

"After as many surgeries as Jan has had to his knee, there is a risk that it may start to get arthritic. We are optimistic for Jan and he continues to set his sights on the next Olympics, but we know it will be a long road back," says Litchfield.

The 2010 Vancouver Olympics are Jan's next goal. "I am waiting for that moment where for two minutes on one day I will be the fastest guy in the world," he says. "I believe I can come back and win gold."

on track

Eight orthopaedic surgeries on his right knee, ankle and shoulder in the past 27 years all started from one accident for Gerry Bos.

"I was finishing up a forty-kilometre bike ride," says Gerry. "With less than ten kilometres to go, a car came out of nowhere and clipped my back wheel. I couldn't get my foot out of the bike pedal strap fast enough."

A competitive speed skater, Bos was cycling to increase his cardio. Falling hard on his right side, Bos sustained injuries that would plague his athletic career for a lifetime.

Over the years Gerry has undergone surgical and non-surgical procedures and countless hours in physiotherapy at the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic. None of these have deterred him from his athletic pursuits. Bos, now 76, finished second in the Masters World Championships for speed skating in 2007.

Gerry is a regular at Fowler Kennedy and exemplifies an active lifestyle, says Nancy Adams, physiotherapist. "Everyone knows Gerry."

In 2001, Dr. Peter Fowler did a rotator cuff repair on Bos. But in March 2008, Gerry reinjured his shoulder during a practice skating session. The injury happened when he improvised while practising his sprint starts and used a hockey net for resistance as he skated around the ice.

"The net caught an edge in the ice. It went one way and my body went the other. I popped my shoulder right out," Gerry says.

After the second repair to the shoulder, Gerry immediately started back in the gym at Fowler Kennedy under Adams' supervision. He rode a stationary bike with his arm in a sling at first to increase his cardiovascular endurance.

Gerry worked with Adams on a weight training plan, building back gradually to the level he performs at comfortably. Adams then set up a plan for his training at home.

"Gerry is very good about adhering to the exercises I give him and not overdoing it. We recognize here how important keeping up a high level of physical fitness is to all of our patients," Adams says.

Gerry Bos and his physiotherapist, Nancy Adams.

Being active is a family affair for Bos. His five children compete in a variety of sports. Menno is a cyclist, Peter a runner, while John, Greta and Wilmalee all swim. "My wife Ria and all the kids love to swim. Me, I don't like it. I prefer my water solid," says Gerry.

Next up for Gerry are the 2009 world championships, where he hopes to win gold. With no other operations on the horizon and the support of the staff at Fowler Kennedy, he will be there in top form.

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