It was a good day for racing except for the
severe cold. Anne was having a pretty good run. But it was too cold
for the steel sled runners to 'dig into' the extremely hard ice. It
would be tough maintaining the critical grip on the ice.
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A late exit off a curve sent
the sled into a skid tapping the left wall just before a tight 90
degree turn. In a blur of speed and motion the G forces swung Anne
like a whip. Tossing her into the air and slamming her into the top
of the track at 70 miles per hour.
Anne tumbled to the floor of the track, but not
before the 50 pound sled smacked her head again tearing off the
protective visor. The momentum carried Anne all the way around the
next curve. After sliding on her face
To see the larger version of the crash, click here!
for nearly 35 yards, she finally came to a stop, unconscious and unmoving. The live telecast waited for 20 minutes for the rescue team to climb into the icy track to recover her limp body.
When she woke up, she had lost
three years of memory and didn't even recognize her own medical coach. Although she
managed to keep a smile on her face the head injury was severe,
causing black outs, seizures, as well as impaired balance. She
knew she had to recover...the
Salt Lake City Olympics were less than a year away!
She had to train. Conventional medicine offered
excellent medical alternatives, but they meant therapy over a long
period of time and maybe taking medication the rest of her life.
That wasn't for her. So she turned to
a new technique, playing video games!
These games were played not with a joystick and
your hands, but by placing electrodes on the head and using your
brainwaves. It forced Anne to learn to control her brainwaves. Only
when her brainwaves were functioning in the proper frequency would
she be able to move the pieces in the various games. A computer
measured her brain waves and process through electrodes attached to
Dr. Mitch Hopkins headed the team of medical specialists that enabled her
to make a comeback. Dr. Hopkins worked with Anne daily, not just
with the brainwave biofeedback treatments, but also with analysis
and subsequent treatment of her entire body and function. His only
promise was that he would work as hard as she did. Together they
broke the medical 'barrier' that many said would keep her from the
From then until now... The 2001-2002 race season which
culminated in the Salt Lake City Olympics was the time of very slow
recovery, forcing Anne to relearn many skills. She barely qualified
for her 5th Olympics, but that feat put her in the Guinness Book of
Records as the oldest woman to ever compete in the Winter Olympic Games.
The 2002-2003 race season was full of new challenges not only because she had to continue to rebuild her racing skills, but also because potential sponsors were questioning her ability to continue on the elite level. Therefore, Anne had to dig deep into her own reserves both physically and financially.
The 2003-2004 season showed promise of return to her former racing skill. Anne was worried about her brain, would it be able to learn brand new racing tracks? To do that she had to not only memorize how to drive each curve on the new tracks, but recall them at lightning speeds when she raced. Anne - as well as other medical personnel - were relieved to find her brain had recovered those functions. She not only finished the season ranked in the top 20 in the World, but was able to regain position in the top seeded group in several key World Cup races.
Anne prepaed for the 2004-2005 season which began in October 2004. She worked on building a new sled with a former Olympic luge champion turned coach. This coach saw Anne's progress and wanted to help. For the first time since the crash, Anne was able to focus on fine tuning and the technical aspects of her race equipment. In a sport where the difference between the first and second place is measured in the thousandths of a second, this technical edge is critical. Her goals for that season was to finish consistently in the top ten or better.
From there... it was on to Torino, Italy, the site of the 2006 Winter Olympics. Where Grandma Luge 'Slid for Six in 2006!'
"Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings." -- Psalm 63:7