February 19, 2010 Features & Images » Feature Story

Whistler Olympians 

In other words… Julia Murray


Perhaps the truest measure of the athlete is not how they perform at the top of their game but seeing how they cope when things go badly, when life throws an unexpected curve ball.

That's what happened to Whistler's 21-year-old Julia Murray.

It was Jan. 22 at the World Cup in Lake Placid, almost one month to the day before the ski cross competition at the 2010 Games. Julia fell in a training run and badly damaged her knee. The prognosis: a partial tear in her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a tear in her medial collateral ligament and damage to her meniscus.

"No skier ever wants to hear those words," said team physiotherapist Chris Napier.

Yet, rather than rail against her misfortune, at the injustice of the timing and simply throw in the towel, which would have been the easy thing to do, Julia is taking it all in stride.

She is digging deep and finding courage worthy of an Olympian.

Since her accident she has been working her heart out to race for Canada. Today, Feb. 18, she must decide if she is ready.

"She's a very positive person," said Murray's mom Stephanie Sloan.

She remembers Julia's parting words earlier this month before heading to the athletes' village in Vancouver. Sloan didn't know if she would see her daughter again before race day, didn't know if she would be able to compete or not.

There was a hard road ahead of her.

"Her last words before she went down were: 'No matter what happens, it's going to be good,'" recalled Sloan.

And it has been good. In fact, this season has been great as Julia ripped up World Cup courses across Europe, coming in fourth in San Candido, Italy, followed quickly by a third place in St. Johann, Austria, and then another fourth in Alpe d'Huez, France.

Those results secured her spot on the Olympic team just as she hurt her knee.

The timing couldn't have been worse. The last month has been an emotional rollercoaster, said her mom.

"When she hurt her knee it was just such a horrible moment, just thinking 'oh my god, her dream has been shattered, she won't be able to compete,'" said Sloan.

Her mom knows just how hard Julia has worked to get here.

In Grade 5, when Julia was 10 years old, she had a class assignment to draw a picture of her dreams on a paper bag. Her drawing was a skier racing gates down the mountain. It was Julia picturing herself competing in the Olympics.

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