Laurenne Ross issued a warning before discussing her injury history.
“I might start crying, because it makes me really emotional,” she said. “It’s been really hard.”
Sure enough, Ross seamlessly transitioned from crying to laughing and back again in an interview at a pre-Olympic media summit in West Hollywood, Calif.
Ross, who started skiing at 18 months old, had her first injury setback at just 9 years old, when a crash resulted in a major face laceration.
“My cheek was basically torn off of my face,” Ross recalled.
Her cheek required more than 100 stitches.
“I am still reminded of it every time I look in the mirror,” Ross said. “To see these scars as a positive part of who I am has taken my whole life, and I'm still working on it.”
Her medical chart has only thickened since then. Shattered pelvis. Torn ACL. Concussions. Multiple broken bones in her hands and wrists. Labral tear in her right hip. A few bulging disks. Two severe ankle sprains. A left shoulder that has been dislocated at least five times.
She suffered even more facial lacerations in a crash in Lake Louise in 2011, pushing her lifetime accumulation of stitches in her face to over 200.
“All of these injuries took time to come back from,” Ross said, “but have made me stronger in the end.”
Ross has had the two best seasons of her eight-year World Cup career since finishing 11th in the Sochi downhill in her Olympic debut. The 29-year-old had seven top-10 finishes during the 2016-17 season, and another nine in 2015-16. She finished fourth in the Olympic test event downhill in South Korea.
But on March 27, she crashed and blew out her right knee in the giant slalom at the U.S. Championships in Sugarloaf, Maine.
“This specific injury is by far the most difficult thing I've ever been through,” Ross said.
Ross returned to World Cup competition on Dec. 9. She recorded a top-10 finish in just the second race of her comeback.
“I know it's going to be the most difficult thing for me to come back from,” Ross said. “But I love skiing, and I'm so passionate about it. I can't see myself giving up on it.”