Returning to the Slopes After Injury with Ellie Weiler


As we ring in the New Year shacked up in our homes looking forward to a more hopeful year in 2021, we sat down (over Zoom) to talk to our long-time client, Ellie Weiler, about her athletic journey and her recovery from an ACL injury last year.

Here’s what we gathered about elite snowboard athlete, Ellie Weiler:
 

Ellie Weiler’s Athletic Journey

Ellie started playing soccer when she was really young around the age of 3 or 4. Her parents put her in all kinds of sports when she was young: soccer, softball, racketball, snowboarding (obviously), and track and field. Ellie was always active and doing something growing up. As she got older, she had to narrow down the sports she was playing. 

In high school, she was snowboarding and playing soccer. During her sophomore year, she broke her ankle snowboarding and had a 3-month recovery period. This injury put her out for the season and is the moment that made her realize she wanted to be a snowboarder and solely focus on building her skills in this sport. Just before her injury, her soccer team won the State Cup for the 3rd time and she was named MVP. The summer prior, the team went to Nationals in Frisco, TX. Ellie says that with soccer being her first love, this was a great way to transition to snowboarding full time.

In 2015, Ellie joined Team Summit, a program for student-athletes who pursue competitive skiing and snowboarding. For her junior year, she transferred to Summit High School and was committed to snowboarding full-time, training five days a week on the mountain and attending school in the mornings.

Ellie competed in slopestyle at a series of events called the U.S. Revolution Tour in February 2019. During her practice run at Seven Springs Resort in Pennsylvania, Ellie landed her first jump and knew something was not right with her right knee. “I was able to ride down, but my knee was swollen and I was unable to fully bend my knee.” By the next day, the symptoms had subsided and Ellie decided to compete just two days after the initial incident. She ended up taking second place in the competition.

Continuing to compete during the 2018-2019 season, Ellie took third place at the Mammoth Mountain competition and competed in the USASA Nationals in April. Though Ellie was “seeing improvement in the range of motion in [her] knee, [and] felt like [it] was getting better,” she made an appointment to get things checked out.

In an effort to rule out any major injuries, Ellie got an MRI and was at school waiting for a text from her dad that would tell her the results. She was shocked to learn she had a torn ACL and a medial meniscus tear.

“I knew so many soccer teammates who suffered an ACL injury and I never thought this would happen to me snowboarding,” said Ellie in an interview with her surgeon, Dr. Richard Cunningham.
 

The Greatest Challenges

Ellie speaks about the importance and power of a good mindset in sports, saying that mastering her mindset has been the biggest challenge she’s had to overcome. In the process of becoming more aware of her thoughts, Ellie has found a great resource that she references regularly and recommends to anyone else looking to improve their mindset to increase their athletic performance. The book is called Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack.
 

When Team Speed Joined the Journey

Ellie began training as part of a small group with two other soccer teammates when she was 9, training with Coach Sterling during her U11 season of soccer. Her time on our turf increased quickly as her team began dedicating nights to training, as well. When Ellie came out of her knee surgery to repair her ACL and meniscus tears, she began working 1:1 with Coaches Sterling and Matt to build her strength back up in her right knee.
 

Goals

Ellie speaks to the goals she achieved playing soccer with conditioning, speed, and agility thanks to her team’s commitment to training with Sterling’s Team Speed. After her injury in 2019, her goals had to shift from that of competition to that of recovery. She worked with Coach Sterling and Coach Matt at Team Speed to build her strength back up in her legs in preparation for when she could return to snowboarding. “[Sterling’s Team Speed] has been everything I’ve needed,” says Ellie, “it’s where I train when I’m in Denver.”

In 5th grade, Ellie had to answer a question on where she wanted to be in 20 years for the yearbook. She looked back and saw that she wrote she’d be a professional soccer player or a scientist who studies atoms. Though Ellie is no longer pursuing soccer as a career, she is certainly on track to achieve high-stakes goals in snowboarding.

Depending on what happens this coming season with the influence of COVID-19, Ellie’s goal is to podium at least 2 of the competitions and finish in the Top 5 at the Grand Prix in Mammoth, California. Looking past this coming season and at the long-term goals of her snowboarding career, Ellie would like to see herself competing in the X-Games, Dew Tour, Burton US Opens, and someday, the Olympics.
 

What Ellie Wants to Say to Young Athletes with Big Dreams

Ellie has a quote as her phone’s screensaver that gives her motivation every time she opens her phone, and she wants to share it with other young athletes who have big dreams:

“There may be people with more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for someone to work harder than you do.” - Justin Timmons

Ellie explains that even though she’s been blessed with some talent, she still works very hard on developing her skills as a snowboarder. Rather than spending a predetermined amount of time on the slopes one day, she’ll stay on the slopes until she nails what she came there to do. 

We’ll end with another quote that Ellie would like to share:

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” - Tim Notke
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