World class skier, Tommy Ford of the US Ski Team, headed back to the slopes after a 2013 season ending injury. Tommy became a local Bend superstar at a very young age. He began racing at a competitive level at age seven and continued on to earn four gold medals in the US Junior Championships after joining the US Development Team right out of high school – helping him catch a spot on the 2010 Olympic team for Giant Slalom. Rebound’s very own Rene Bates was overjoyed to be invited along and tasked with the job of keeping Tommy healthy and strong. Rene began working with Tommy after a hip surgery (from an injury in France) had him sidelined for the season.
After months of hard work, motivation and dash of excitement Tommy and Rene were off to Corralco, Chile for the first large scale training the athlete would have since 2013. No denying the fact that this was one rad opportunity for Rene, who holds his Doctorate in Physical Therapy and has been working at Rebound for the past 8 years. Although some pretty awesome adventures have come his way, the combination of work, exploration and an innovative opportunity to practice abroad, had Rene’s bags packed and surfboard loaded.
Upon his return from the mountainous terrain in Chile, I tracked down Tommy to inquire about his training, abilities, passion for skiing and an overall dose of where his motivation comes from. Tommy shared with me where it all began:
My parents were both ski racers and coaches and had me on skis when I was about three years old. Chasing around my brother, I eventually started racing when I was seven. From there I have had some amazing adventures in places like Europe, Chile, and New Zealand. In 2010 I was fortunate enough to compete in the Vancouver Olympics. On top of that there have been some deep powder days had while traveling.
“My family has been tremendous supporters through and through. My teammates and coaches at Mt. Bachelor Ski Education Foundation pushed me to become the skier I am today, but more importantly continue to remind me what it is all about: fun. Hearing about Tyler Palmer shinning off bamboo gates with jeans and a flannel on back in the 70’s or watching Bode Miller take chances at the top of every turn still gets my blood pumping.”
Although this incredible athlete is regaining confidence in his abilities, it has been a long road back – Rene has worked with Tommy from the beginning with the goal to back to where he wants to be: in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Rene gave me some insight on what it’s like to work with a world class athlete making a big comeback:
“The first time I treated Tommy Ford was after he broke his femur. The second time was recovering after having a fixation hardware rod removed from his femur. Both times his body just needed time to heal from the trauma of surgery. Tommy heals really well. The land training aspect of being a technical skier involves full body workouts, strengthening workouts, explosive workouts and endurance workouts; all are varied depending on where in the season he is. Tommy also has a lot of really cool extra workouts which involve things I can not disclose – I will however divulge that Ping Pong may or may not be involved…”
Tommy Ford has now returned to a full scale training regimen, while not ignoring the fact he has a few hurdles in front of him; as well as big plans to tackle a variety of hills, including his nemesis back in France.
“Now that I am back on snow and starting to ski more gates, the biggest obstacle will be gaining confidence. Achieving powerful legs has been the biggest physical obstacle and I continue to work with it. Riding Bachelor is a lot of fun and hard to beat on a powder day. The skiing in Chile is awesome because of the big rugged mountains that make up the Andes. I would like to get back to La Clusaz, FR (where I broke my leg) and explore more of the mountain.”
Training was the focus of this South American excursion though there is no denying the fact that there were some additional highlights along the way. The locals were very kind, so much fun and always smiling, recalled Rene. There is something to be said for living simply in a beautiful place. The land in Chile changes so much from North to South, East to West. What I saw were mountains as far as the eye could see and beaches with large waves on their horizon.
Tommy is now back on the slopes in Colorado, tackling the hill and readying himself for the World’s stage in PyeongChang, South Korea, 2018. Rene is back here at the good ‘ole East side clinic and looks forward to working with Tommy whenever he returns home to Bend and needs a little tune up. He feels confident that as he continues to work with Tommy they will focus on strength and avoiding injury and continue to ponder the next opportunity for adventure.
Check out Tommy’s current adventures at https://www.facebook.com/ford.tommy?fref=ts and keep up to date with Rebound and Rene