2020 Midseason Update: The Injury Bug Bites Hard

          Hello, thank you for returning to our blog once again.  We have had a busy offseason and we wanted to update you all on our status for the 2019-20 season.

The last time you heard from us, I (Josh) just found out that I had torn my left ankle in a similar way to the way I tore my right.  While heartbroken about the injury that caused us to miss the US Championships in January, I remained positive and was on track to get back on the ice within that same month.  Returning from injury is always a little weird; you never know what is supposed to hurt and how much pain is considered “acceptable”.  After all, the muscles and ligaments in the area of the injury are sure to be weaker.  So, as I returned to the ice and felt pain, I just tried to skate and figured it was part of the normal process.  However, the pain would not go away, I could not even make it through a shift at work without having to stop and sit down every 30 minutes.  Somewhat alarmed by this, we scheduled a follow up appointment with my doctor who shut me back down for over another month and gave me the same procedure on my left foot that I had already gotten on my right.  This time coming back to the ice we decided to really take it slowly and took even longer than the doctor had prescribed; there was no rush to return to the ice.  By Mid-March I was finally back on the ice for good and ready for the new season.

            Preparations for this season were made a bit easier because we have decided to keep our short program and our free skate from last year.  However, what many do not know is that we changed our short program after Finlandia Trophy.  Since we never competed it and hardly competed our free skate, we feel completely comfortable doing these programs in competition this year.  In April we had the opportunity to showcase our new short program at a show at Penn State and it was an absolute blast.  We really love our new short program, and we cannot wait to show it to the judges and an audience of skating fans, but before we do that, we must find a way to get away from the injury bug.

            Shortly after our great show in Penn State, I injured my neck on a lift in practice.  This was not the first time I had felt neck pain and I took all the normal steps to make it feel better, but this time was different.  It was so hard to function normally and I was constantly in pain.  Determined to find out what the issue was, I scheduled an appointment and received an MRI.  The MRI revealed that I had four herniated discs in my neck, one of which is touching my spinal cord.  Overall this was not a good diagnosis, however, it was nice to have an understanding of where my pain was coming from.  I took a little time off of lifts and such, but remained doing some basic parts of skating; this injury held us out from debuting our programs at the Sunshine State Games as we were scheduled to do.

            Once my neck started to feel better, we went down to Fort Myers to work with Marina Zoueva and Johnny Johns on polishing our choreography and working on our skating skills.  Although we only got two days there, it was a great time that we feel was truly beneficial for our skating.  Following this time in Fort Myers we got back to work… only to have Jessica’s foot problem from previous seasons reappear.  Feeling that something else might be in play, her doctor ordered a different kind of imaging scan on her foot that revealed that she actually has arthritis in her foot.  This news was a bit of a blow; arthritis can never be cured, only managed.  With this knowledge we have taken a careful approach to our training in order to manage Jessica’s pain.  We took this approach with us to Westminster, Colorado, the site of Pair Camp, and made sure to do each class and exercise intelligently.  Despite having to sit out of a few exercises at pair camp, we really learned a lot while we were there and got some great compliments from Nina Mozer and her team while also showing “the powers that be” what we are made of and how big our potential is for this season.

            We returned home from Pair Camp in Mid-June and got back to work so that we could be ready and trained for Skate Detroit.  Things were going very well and we were just about ready for our “tune-up” competition in Tampa: Orange Blossom Open.  On June 28th we had our final competition simulation before this event and we were in the middle of a clean program when Jessica fell on the last element and dislocated her left knee.  What made the injury quite unusual was that it was a rather routine fall that did not seem out of place (there are two videos from different angles that we have seen), but still it caused her knee to come out of place nonetheless.  I went into my ending position and heard a noise of agony come out of Jessica that I have never heard before; I immediately knew something must have been wrong.  An MRI confirmed that Jessica fully dislocated her knee and had a small tear of her MPFL along with an MCL injury.  Although it was a downer to experience another injury, two things proved that luck is not completely against us.  When Jessica fell and dislocated her knee, she was lucky enough that it popped back into place on its own when she stood up on it.  On top of that, we are lucky that it was her left leg and not her landing leg; undoubtedly a right knee injury would require a longer recovery.  Unfortunately, the injury not only held us out of our “tune-up” event, Orange Blossom Open, but is also preventing us from competing at Skate Detroit.  Skate Detroit is always a great opportunity to showcase our skills and to present how we have improved over the offseason.  This year we will not have that opportunity, but our confidence and positivity remain unwavering.

            Our previous experience with injuries lends to our current experience with this injury.  We start every day off with physical therapy and mobility exercises before we even start warming up. There is no rush to return to full strength, even though we are eager to show what we are made of.  Our current timetable hopefully has us allowed to do everything in one month and perhaps make our season debut at Southwest Florida Fall Classic in Mid-September if we can be ready by then.  We know that the most important thing for our careers right now is to focus on our health first, and then worry about putting ourselves out there for everyone to see.  Whenever that time comes though, we want to be ready for it.  We are endlessly excited to show the improvements we have made this season, and once we are healthy, we will share it with skating fans.

We look forward to this season and showcasing ourselves, but first we must get rid of this injury bug.  Hopefully that time comes soon so that everyone can see our new short program and the changes that we have made thus far.  Thank you for reading about us and we will be sure to update you all in the near future so that you can follow along on our journey.

  • Joshica