Shimko Makes Comeback at Timberline Camp
Avital Shimko made her triumphant return to the U.S. Freestyle Moguls Ski Team following almost two years of being sidelined due to an injury she sustained to her right knee in August 2018. Avital had an exceptional first Team on-snow camp at Timberline Lodge & Ski Area in Mt. Hood, Ore., the same place her ski career took an unexpected turn.
“I think I had been dreaming of it for so long and so excited for it that it was pretty unreal,” Avital said. “I was nervous at first, especially after my last encounter with Mt. Hood, but I acknowledged those thoughts and put them aside.”
It took Avital 14 months to get back on skis and 18 months to do her first jumps and ski her first moguls. This past camp marked almost two full years since she had trained on snow with her team. Avital was set to make her official comeback in March at a World Cup in Idre Fjäll, Sweden. However, due to the impacts of the global novel coronavirus pandemic, those events were canceled and she was unable to get into the start gate.
Let’s go!! 🙅♀️ Your girl Tal is headed to Sweden! I am in route to compete in my first event back; crazy to believe it’s been almost 2 years of being out of the start gate. I am so beyond happy to be back where I belong. I have worked my ass off to get here. 🎥: @lobbie.ryon #deervalleyresort #usskiteam #oneteam
“I got there on a Tuesday and drove up [that] night,” Avital recalls about her unexpectedly short European trip. “We skied in the course on Wednesday. I was preparing mentally for Thursday training. I had seen the course, inspected it. So I had already done all of that mental competition prep. But Thursday morning Brad [Wilson] woke us up bright and early and told us we were all going home. Selfishly I was disheartened because I had been working so hard to get there. I was sad for a minute, but quickly realized [what was happening] because of the pandemic.”
Avital was first nominated to the U.S. Ski Team in 2018 for the 2018-19 season after winning the 2018 NorAm Tour. This feat also earned her her own World Cup spots for what was set to be her first season as a Team athlete. However, that August Avital was training up at Timberline working on her back fulls and had a fluke landing that did not agree with her right knee. She tore her ACL, sustained medial and lateral meniscus tears, an MCL strain and had bone bruising. Avital was sidelined before she even got started.
Hey guys, giving you a 👍 from my sled ride down, but unfortunately some not so great news.. on Friday I over rotated a back full & tried to save it. In the process I did some damage to my knee. The MRI read MCL sprain, slight medial meniscus tear and ACL tear. The news is starting to hit and I am bummed for sure, especially after receiving full World Cup starts for the 2018-2019 season. But this isn’t the end, this is where I get stronger! I will be back more ready than ever! Thank you to everyone for the well wishes. I love you all. 💕 but for now who’s ready for some more food posts??
Missing the opportunity to compete in the 2020 season was the last bump in Avital’s long road to recovery. “When I went [to Sweden], I wasn't 100%, but 95% ready and confident that I could make something happen and perform well,” she reflected. “My jumps were a little lacking because I hadn’t water ramped. Ideally, you want to water ramp [before you get on snow]. But I was still doing my same tricks, so not the biggest deal. It took me a little longer to where I wanted to be jumping.”
Returning home from Europe and staring down the barrel of an unknown springtime prep period due to stay-at-home mandates and public health codes, Avital and her fiancé, Bobby, built a gym in their garage so she could stay on top of her fitness.
“You get back, you're bummed it didn't happen,” she reflected on what it felt like coming home less than 48 hours after boarding a plane to her comeback. “At the same time, I was so close to competing I could taste it. I was percentages away from being there and fitting right back where I was. Having that in the back of my mind the whole time during quarantine, I wanted it more than ever; still do. Having all of this extra time (being injured and during quarantine) made me visualize more. I really honed in and to understand all of the movements. I’ve always known how to ski moguls and how to jump, but never honed into tiny details. This allowed me to really hone on that and progress me the direction I want to go. Some days sucked in quarantine, but I hold myself more accountable than others hold me, I was pretty regimented in my quarantine.”
The perseverance and focus paid off. “I tested right before Hood and I’m 20% stronger than I have ever been,” Avital said. “I made massive gains in my progress [at Hood]. I took two new tricks to snow, back mute and cork 7, and it went really well.”
Moving forward Avital will continue to work on her jumps she plans to bring to competition this season as well as focus on her fitness. “I want to be the most in shape that I’ve ever been. I think it gives me a sense of reassurance and that nothing will phase me. If I am the strongest and fastest I’ve ever been, then everything will seem easier to me.”
Follow Avital on Instagram as she prepares to take on the 2020-21 season.