Road to Recovery - James Webb

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21 Oct
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Animal team rider James Webb hit rock bottom last year when he dislocated his knee on a trip to Finland. His injuries kept him off the skis for almost a year, but Webbo used this time wisely as he embarked on his road to recovery.

We caught up with James to ask him what it was like to start from scratch and his thoughts on the whole recovery process.

Hey James, thanks for talking to us. We were quite shocked when we learned you’d injured yourself, we thought a guy like you never fell, how did it happen?

Well unfortunately everyone makes mistakes and this was one of those times. We'd been filming in Finland for an urban freeski project and we were riding this gap to steep down rail at a school just outside the Arctic Circle. We were getting a bit frustrated as no one was really getting any good tricks down and it had taken us a while to set up this spot. I guess I got impatient and decided to step it up a notch maybe a bit early in the day and landed really back footed on a 270 on... this caused me to slip out and land on a hard flat landing with my leg fully extended. 

Something that serious can put a lot of people off, how did you fight the negative thoughts?

I had negative thoughts for sure, when you're sat at home not able to do any of the things you love it does suck. I just kept thinking about how good it would be when I got back on my skis and everything became a challenge to get to that point. I just tried my hardest to put everything into the rehab.

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What sort of training regime did you have during that period? Did you start slowly then gradually moved on to more intense sessions?

I went through the NHS as I couldn't afford to go private and it was pretty slow to start. The NHS provided a good base regime for me. I got a few bits of gym equipment at home so I could do these exercises everyday and then started to increase the intensity. It was important not to move too fast even when I felt that I could and the exercises were becoming tedious. When I could get back into the gym and cycle out on the roads again that was a great feeling and I could really start pushing myself.

How’s the knee feeling now?

The knee still isn't what it once was. There are days it aches and gets sore (especially when it's cold) but my leg feels strong and I reckon I am stronger and fitter than I ever have been in my life. This whole experience has made me a lot more aware of what I should be doing to stay fit and healthy.

What other shenanigans have you been up to during down time?

There wasn't a lot I could do to start with (except play Mario Kart on the Wii with my girlfriend), but I put a lot more into coaching and running the Southern Freestyle Club sessions at Bracknell and British Freeski Camps with team mate Becky Bennett. I even ran one camp in Tignes, skiing on one leg using my crutches with ski tips on the end as outriggers! I've managed to go on a few non-skiing related trips with my girlfriend and family which has been nice. I also spent the first Christmas at home in 7 years! Obviously had a few nights out with the lads, gone to a few gigs and been getting some new tattoos! 

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What would be your advice for someone going through a similar injury?

Just focus on the end result and crack on! Don't sit there feeling sorry for yourself, no excuses, just smash the rehab and listen to your doctors/physios! It's so worth it in the end.

Thanks for talking to us, any particular shout outs you want to make to the people that have supported you during that tough time?

My family and girlfriend were such a big help, I couldn't have done it without them. Driving me to doctors appointments, physio sessions, and the operation itself. Also just for being supportive, it's hard to stay positive all the time and they were amazing at boosting my spirits (special shout out to Mum for letting me turn the house into a gym!). 

I'd like to thank the NHS doctors, nurses and physios I worked with. They did a great job and don't get enough respect or pay in my view. 

Big up to all the kids I've coached who I have lived my ski life through! Watching you progress is massively rewarding even when I couldn't join in.

Thanks to my sponsors for continuing to support me even though I couldn't ski for 18 months.. that's you Animal!! 

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