By: Aiden Ulrich
I was recently in Japan working on a project with Icelantic Skis. Our first stop of the season was Hokkaido, Japan, the northern most island. During our month around Sapporo, Kutchan, and NIseko, it snowed over 25 feet. As a Jackson native I’m no stranger to soft snow, but this was a bit excessive. I’ve never had an entire month of skiing where everyday the snow was bottomless and face shots were casually there for the taking. It felt like everyday I had skiing there was the new deepest day of my life.
The Japan experience ended the same way it started, with an absurd amount of snow. After spending over a day in a completely shutdown Tokyo airport with no trains, planes, or automobiles in or out due to weather I’ve finally made my way back to Jackson Hole. The nostalgic dreams of Ramen and bottomless snow haunting every hardpack day I spend at the Village.
My first days of the season were in Japan, they also happened to be my first days back on snow since I sustained a Traumatic Brain injury last March. All it took was over rotating a hand-drag by a little bit to get some bleeding in my brain, and wipe away months of memories and drastically change the way my life was lived. Japan was low impact, exactly what I needed to reintroduce skiing to my body and psyche.
At the time of the injury I was in Salt Lake where I was attending Westminster College. I had to spend a month in Utah before my condition was stable enough to move back to Jackson. Once I was home I was able to spend a few months on brain rest and hit the pause button on school for the times being. From there I spent my days alternating between a hyperbaric chamber, acupuncture, cranial sacral therapy, and physical therapy at Excel. When the injury occured the bleeding was centralized in a part of the cerebellum that affects not just memory and cognition but also proprioception. A large portion of my recovery was spent getting my feet back under me working on balance, and getting blood moving to the parts of my brain that needed it.
In a way I graduated from Excel, my proprioception had been rewired and returned to all my limbs, I was ready for something more vigorous. It was a natural progression for me to transition my healing process into the hands of Wright Training. One of my lingering symptoms was when blood would get flowing I would have a pressure imbalance in my brain. This trigger with training was vital for my body to equalize and rework past it. After a few months at Wright Training I got to a point where the symptoms of pressure imbalances or equilibrium problems were no existent. Not only did It seem like there was an end in sight for recovery, but for the first time since the injury I could finally see what my life could return to.
I changed my goals from regaining the life I had before, to training for a future on and off the slopes. It was all a blessing in disguise, I’m now able to look back with a sort of morbid joy on the whole experience. I would never wish that it happened, but I grew more during this trying time that I have in my entire life. What I want out of life is now laid out in front of me, and thanks to a little bit of rogue blood in my dome I’m actually able to realize and act on it.