'I'm just grateful to be alive and back on my skis'
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Just over a year ago, Tommy Ford was in a hospital bed, recovering from major knee surgery and a concussion, unsure of when he'd be able to race again.
But the now-three-time Olympian is back on his skis and set to race in the giant slalom at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Ford hasn't raced since a devastating crash on Jan. 9, 2021 at a World Cup Race in Adelboden, Switzerland. He only watched the video of the crash for the first time in December.
“It’s just pretty overwhelming, how a lot of people I love had to watch that," Ford told NewsChannel 21 in a January interview while still in Europe.
The crash left ford with a concussion, a torn meniscus, MCL, PCL, a broken tibia plateau and wrist.
And the physical injuries were just the start.
“I've had some bouts of depression," Ford said. "It's been really hard to see and be recognized, but I've gotten better at recognizing that. It's a real part of the injury, and not being able to express yourself in the ways that you're used to.”
His World Cup season -- one of his best, with four Top-10 finishes and a podium -- was over.
“I mean, mid-summer and all of that, and starting to ski again, it’s like, darn I was skiing well and wish I could keep going. But I’m just grateful to be alive and back on my skis,” Ford said.
He returned home to Bend shortly after the crash, to start his recovery. He said he couldn’t walk normally for six months.
But Ford didn't give up on his goal of making his third Olympic team.
He was back on the snow by the fall.
"I mean, you only get a few opportunities to ski at the Olympics," Ford said. "I would really love a chance to ski at that level one more time."
By early January, Ford hadn’t made a World Cup start since his crash.
But Adelboden was the last event before the rankings cut off for Beijing.
He was unable to go.
"I was striving to," Ford said. "About a week before, I decided not to. I wasn't ready."
He missed the rankings cutoff, but Ford was named to the Olympic team as a discretionary pick by the U.S. coaches.
The Olympic giant slalom will be his first race in exactly 400 days.
And at the age of 32, Ford isn't ready to say this is his last Olympic race.
"I'm open to it (another Olympic run) -- if I'm still healthy and skiing fast and enjoying it," he said.
Against the odds, we'll see Tommy Ford in Beijing -- and maybe we'll see him again, in Milano Cortina in 2026.
The first men's giant slalom run in Beijing begins at 6:15 p.m. Pacific Time Saturday (Sunday morning in China) and the second at 9:45 p.m. NBC plans to include live coverage of the men's giant slalom, starting at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.