Jamie Crane-Mauzy floated how "interesting" it would be to make her next competition the World Ski and Snowboard Festival here in Whistler next spring.
It would also be fearless and yet, appropriate.
The 22-year-old freestyle skier suffered a horrific crash during the slopestyle at the event, which doubled as the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) World Tour Finals, in April that left her with a traumatic brain injury. Crane-Mauzy, the No. 2-ranked women's skier on the AFP circuit, was airlifted to hospital and was in a coma for eight days.
"(The doctors) weren't sure if I was going to die or not," she said in a phone interview from her Utah home. "They didn't think I ever would have recovered this quickly. They thought I wouldn't have even left the hospital now. They didn't know if I was going to be paralyzed."
The slopestyle competition had been delayed a day because of rainy conditions on April 10, but to Crane-Mauzy's understanding, the conditions the day of the event were fine. In her opinion, it didn't matter where she was competing — the way she executed the trick, the result would have been the same each time.
There is no timeline for when Crane-Mauzy could make a return to the ski hill as yet, as she is still not cleared for such activity, but her progress in less than three months from April to late June is stunning.
Crane-Mauzy is still feeling the effects of the crash, as she had to pause a couple of times and ask for help remembering a word or phrase from a family member. Each day is a new challenge, she said.
"Every single day, I have a new little thing and it changes every day," she said.
Her next major milestone could come in late August, when she has her next doctor's appointment and her progress will be measured.
As the days and weeks go by, Crane-Mauzy said she's recovering her bubbly pre-crash disposition and is applying it to the process.
"I keep surprising people by how quick I'm recovering," she said. "I don't do it very often now, but when I don't remember something, I think it's funny is my first response.
"I can do most everything I used to be able to do, so I'm lighthearted now."
Crane-Mauzy is taking the attitude of pretending she's trying to recover from two blown-out knees as opposed to a brain injury as she tries to take a measured approach to a return. It can be more difficult to understand one's limitations when returning from a brain injury, so to try to avoid an overly quick and dangerous comeback, she's approaching it like an injury with which she's familiar.
"You don't want to feel too rushed, especially something that might take a long time," she said. "You don't want to behave like somebody who's rushed to accomplish something. You know it'll take some time, and you want to feel comfortable with how long it will take. I feel comfortable with how long it will take."
Though she can't compete in any sports that could result in another concussion and compound the damage, Crane-Mauzy is keeping active and fit in anticipation of an eventual return to the mountain. She's taking part in yoga, hiking and swimming, while adapting elements of other sports she enjoys, like paddling on her surfboard.
"I'm definitely trying to keep up as many skills as I can. I'm pretty glad and lucky I can recover to 100 per cent which means I can go back to skiing competitions and be cleared for everything I'll ever want to do," she said. "I'm not cleared right now, but as soon as my head is healed, this winter, they said I could go back to skiing."
She'll also be in the VIP section for the summer Dew Tour and a Taylor Swift concert in Los Angeles in August.
"I've decided I can do everything that girly-girls do," she said. "I guess I'll pretend I'm a girly-girl this summer."
Crane-Mauzy had the benefit of having a clan that's not only supportive, but knowledgeable, as older sisters Amy and Janet are an anesthesiologist and a massage therapist, respectively. Younger sisters Jeanee and Jilly have also helped, especially immediately after she was first hospitalized.
"I have a lot of family support," she said. "They improved me a lot. My improvement is vital because of them. I think they're the only reason I'm improving so well."
There was plenty of help from the community at large, too. A RallyMe crowdfunding campaign raised over US $16,000 from over 140 contributors, while Whistlerites Joel Chevalier and Natalie Grether played a major role helping the family in a tough time, helping to feed, shelter and even clothe the family.
"(My dad) didn't pack anything. He just flew because he knew I was in a coma," she said. "Joel bought my dad clothes out of his own money because my dad didn't bring anything."
Crane-Mauzy said she doesn't remember roughly three-and-a-half weeks beginning on the day of her accident on April 11. One of her first memories after the crash, she said, came from when she was still temporarily paralyzed on her right side because of bruising on her brainstem. A stimulator was moving her arm because she could not move it at all on her own.
One of her first positive memories, though, was a recollection of seeing a family member for the first time since coming out of a coma when reuniting with Amy.
"She last saw me in Vancouver and I was just about dead and I wasn't moving," she said. "And then she saw me going to pick her up from the airport and once she saw me, she cried a couple of times because she was so glad with how well I was doing.
"She cried, 'You're a miracle!'"
Having competed at Whistler Blackcomb before, Crane-Mauzy was familiar with her surroundings and holds no ill will toward the resort. She's already come around to approaching the spill with a sense of humour, citing some other mishaps she's had here.
"I don't think (my feelings are) any different. I still like Whistler," she said. "I always leave Whistler with a bang. I once confused which bus I was going on, so I always do something. I guess this time I left with a big bang."
Those looking to follow Crane-Mauzy's continuing progress can follow her on Instagram at jamiemocrazy or on Facebook at facebook.com/Jamiecrane-mauzy. Crane-Mauzy encouraged those sending posts of support to use the hashtag #mocrazystrong.
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