Mind Over Matter: Kimmy Fasani’s Road To Recovery

“…I learned the mind is a powerful thing. I am an athlete and I love being able to claim I am an athlete. This is what I do. This is who I am.” –Kimmy Fasani

It’s early morning on Mammoth and with a break in the storm and fresh layer of snow on the ground, Kimmy leads us to a secret spot hidden in the trees, untouched by the crowds, protected from the wind. Meeting the moment. Serenity.

Rewind 14 months. I walked into Kimmy’s bedroom, her leg propped up, wrapped in a contraption of moving, breathing machinery. A smile on her face, nonetheless. She’s gotten out of surgery days before to repair every known ligament in her knee.

The injury was bad: fractured pelvis, torn ACL, MCL, PCL, bed ridden for three months, and 18 months of healing time—not what you want to hear when trying to make the US Olympic slopestyle team.

You never plan for adversity. It kind of just happens. On a routine December morning, Kimmy tweaked a takeoff on a jump, and in a series of calamitous events only Mother Nature can contrive, she went straight for the trees, landing amongst icy glaciers, hard packed, corroded at the side of the park.

Life throws curve balls. But a true test of character is how you react to those situations. Mind over matter. In Kimmy’s case, the mind wins.

From then to now, Kimmy is no joke. Here’s the story on how she came back. Keep an eye out for Kimmy’s part for Burton’s AK Project coming out later this year.

After the accident, you were bed ridden for three months. That gives you a long time to think. What was going through your head during rehab?
I’m a goal driven person, and before I got hurt I had all these things in place, and a plan of how I’ll accomplish them. Having to let go of those immediate goals was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my career. I finally felt all my hard work had put me in a place I deserved to be, and when my injury happened I had to make different goals—goals that would be fulfilled and obtainable for the year following rehab. I had to start taking baby steps. I knew nothing was going to come easy.

One of those goals was competing in the Life Time Tri Oceanside triathlon. Why a triathlon?
So Clif Bar, one of my sponsors, has this campaign called Meet The Moment where you just share your awesome adventure stories. While I was rehabbing I was trying to figure out what my moment was going to be. I had wanted to do this triathlon for some time now, and I wanted something that could be fulfilling even if I didn’t have success on snow that season. It was also for my mental game. I didn’t want to have doubt when I got back on snow.

So you did this triathlon and you won for your division. That’s pretty badass. Congrats. What was it about the triathlon that helped your mindset in snowboarding?
I think it’s all about obtaining the little goals throughout the process, just like I do with snowboarding. To be honest I was looking at this as not training for a triathlon, but recovering from an injury. Doing the triathlon was my reward, but I still had to be pretty cautious. I started checking off these things like running a mile. It just gives you that sense of accomplishment and everything you do just fuels your mind like, “Okay, cool I was able to do that, I’m going to be fine.” Clif Bar gave me an opportunity to train with an Olympic tri-athlete, Chris McCormack, which was really cool and a huge learning experience. I wanted to have all the kinks worked out, so I could get back on snow fully confident. I didn’t want to get back on snow and be insecure and full of fear. Just because I’m coming off the biggest injury I have ever had doesn’t mean my mind has to be damaged after that. I am an athlete and I love being able to claim I am an athlete because that is what I do. That is who I am. I learned the mind is a powerful thing and just because I am not on snow doesn’t mean I can’t be out there doing what I love.

What’s different this season? Are you still filming in the backcountry?
For me, gosh, I mean so much has changed this year and just how I view snowboarding. I’ve realized what truly makes me happy is just being in the backcountry and in the mountains. I want to be able to board any mountain out there and film with my husband Chris (Benchetler, professional skier), his crew, and the Burton guys. I’ve been in the backcountry a lot this season. It’s been amazing but challenging. Weather and stability have been all over the place; so good, solid days have been limited. However, I’ve taken hard slams and my knee has been a champ! I feel like I can finally say ‘I’m back!!’ Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a little rusty—but that will come back in time.

What have you learned from all of this?
My injury taught me patience. There were so many lessons learned, and I had to be okay with letting go of goals, and making new plans. I would say my best advice is just be okay with letting go and appreciate what you do have because our injuries remind us that it could always be worse. Just take it one day at a time, keep a positive attitude, and surround yourself with really good people who are supportive and encouraging. I have been reminded that I absolutely love snowboarding and wouldn’t be happy without it in my life! This hiatus has only made me more passionate about snowboarding and a more confident snowboarder. I have a bigger and more appreciative perspective and I am excited to ride big mountains. My goals have shifted but the foundations are still there. I really want to just enjoy what I am doing, have fun, and keep inspiring women to follow their passions.

Special thanks: Burton, Zeal, Skullcandy, Clif Bar, Mammoth Mountain, Evo, Mimi’s Cookie Bar, CTi.

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