the milestone of my career. My new client – Šárka Pančochová, Czech snowboarder. After a few exchanged emails and returning from the US she appeared in my practice. A little girl with rounded shoulders waiting for the operation. Ideal combination! Call for my ambitions and challenge for the injured athlete before the Olympics. So we started. Comeback of SarkasSnow.
After her first surgery, I had tied hands. The left shoulder was very weak. No function of the core muscles nor scapula. I decided to rehabilitate both shoulders at the same time. Sharks training, with one hand in fixation, doing farmer carries with kettlebell and my dog behind her ass, looked more like a joke than serious training from X games medailist.
It was time for operation of the right shoulder.
Her selfie from the hospital and the doctor’s report that the injuries on the right shoulder were more extensive than on the left, did not leave me too long to hesitate. Our mission Korea 2018 Olympics was clear . A few days after operation I started with Active Release TechniqueTM. Manually treating the structure of the muscle, although in very small ranges, allowed me both shoulders to mobilise. After the basic rehabilitation exercises, which she also executed for homework. We have achieved the stability and mobility of the shoulders to start with strength and conditioning.
Planning a training program for 6 days and two phases a day is the “all you can eat buffet” of each trainer. I was so excited to find out how to do it. Weighted vest, pushing the sled , lactate intervals on the bicycle, was a real grind for her. Strengthening her mind and trust to operated shoulders was my ultimate goal in this training cycle. For recovery we spent time on paddle-boards or swimming in the pool. Working with my clients does not end up behind the doors of the rehab room. Building trust and to know the needs of my client is easier at the bar having a few beers.
Foto: Lukas Wagneter (Redbull)
Testing Šárka at the Institute of Sports Medicine in Prague from Doctor Jiří Dostal showed very good function of the trunk and her shoulder joints. Communication between me, a sports physician and other members of an athletes team is critical to grasp several factors needed for rehabilitation or training.
I had to say goodbye. She was off to New Zealand. Training on snow was full of acceptations. In every case I was full of concerns. In such short time after rehab going to ride on snow. A lot of physiotherapists and doctors would at least tap their forehead.
The call with Martin (coach) confirmed my participation and the position as a physiotherapist on the world tour. As a part of the Olympics nomination.
Besides Šárka, my team included Klaudia Medlová, Petr Horák and Katka Vojáčková. Together with coach Přema and Martin we had a lot fun from the first minute at the airport.
Our World Tour before Christmas continued to Germany and America. My role was to keep the bodies functioning and psychological well-being throughout the team. Sometimes I was wearing snowboard, water and waiting downstairs for a trick.
The race in Copper Mountain (USA) was finished for us with drama. Šárka suffered a heavy crash with a concussion finishing the competition in final trainings. For the physio a very demanding look. My endeavour to rehab the shoulders for this race has become useless for a moment. But I quickly realised that such traumatic experiences or failures make us stronger. Standing next to her bed at the hospital after she came together the doctor asked “Do you know what happened?” She responds “ I ate shit.”
One month to the Olympics in Korea.
Right after New Year I sat on the plane back to the states to my beloved Colorado. The mission was clear. Provide Šárka the best conditions for training. Every day in epic Breckenridge resort, sun, cold and powder were some redemptions for us before the Olympics.
Great breakfast, a 3-minute walk to the gondola, shred and physical therapy with training was our everyday program. In the evening, with a glass of good wine, we had often talked about the victory as such, about its transitions into our minds, our decision-making and actions. Sometimes it even came to tears.
It was in Colorado that I realised I live my dream. Being surrounded by very successful and very inspiring people. To whom Sarka undoubtedly belongs.
After our lastdinner from many we had with her awesome friends I flu back to Prague. She felt physically okay and mentally ready for the Olympics. I knew this journey has changed her, me and people helping her to achieve the olympics.
Winter Olympic Games Korea 2018
I watched the competition „from downunder“ from sunny Australia with the Czech national kayak team. Seeing Shark on the screen, without our morning warm-up and high-five before the race, was frustrating. Now it was just her. And it was a great show. Despite the unfavourable conditions, Šárka placed the 16th place in Slopestyle discipline. In the Big Air discipline in the 19th place. There were of course much higher expectations for better placements.
From a fan’s point of view, it’s a disappointment. From the viewpoint of her physical therapist I realise that the result in the competition is not only a ton of hard physical work but also the mental one. Setting up the mind, mental well-being, feeling in connection with snowboard are extremely important factors in snowboarding, when the decision is a question of hundreds.
It is also my role as a physical therapist to ensure that my athlete feels good after all the injuries and obstacles she had. Understanding her body and the needs of movement in snowboarding and making her always smile to hustle at the jumps.
I am honored to work with this „smurf“.