When ESPN caught up with Meg Olenick last September, she was rehabbing an ACL injury and looking ahead to winter. The season started off well: Olenick earned a spot on the first U.S. Freeskiing slopestyle team. But at the Aspen Open in February, she came off a jump, landed in the backseat, and felt her knee pop. Again. After her fourth knee surgery, Olenick moved to Park City, Utah, and threw herself into rehab. As she engineers another comeback, she's focused on inspiring young girls to embrace an active lifestyle. Olenick tells us about her girls' sports camp -- which takes place September 8 - 9 in Carbondale, Colo. -- her Park City support network, and what she thinks of smaller jumps for female skiers.
How did you get the idea for the "It's All About Her" girls' camp?
I've had a lot of down time to think about how I can give back. The Women's Sports Foundation came out with a campaign, Keep Her in the Game. The statistic that really hit me is that by the age of 14, girls are dropping out of sports at twice the rate of boys. That just blows my mind. I'm going to try and get girls pumped on sports. The camp is taking place in my hometown, and I'm doing it at my high school.
What will the camp involve?
Athletes like Jen Hudak, snowboarder Ellery Hollingsworth, and a couple locals are going to come. What I envision is playing sports and talking about how our sports have grown and where we are. How if you put in the work and the time, and love what you're doing, you can achieve the highest goals.
There are a few freeskiers in Park City rehabbing injuries. What's the community like?
We're all going through the same thing and it's nice when you're having a hard day to lean on each other. It's like a support group -- we call it AA, but for ACLs. Jen Hudak and I have become friends. We see it the same way: We've made it this far, and I've been so fortunate that I'd like to give back and have these kids realize what can come from setting your mind on something. Yes, I've had issues with injuries, but having the support of the U.S. Ski Team and other athletes -- I couldn't have done it without them.
Where are you at in rehab right now?
I'm doing physical therapy three days a week. I had microfracture surgery so that's making it extremely slow. But I've gotten into plyometrics, lots of jumping, lots of strength training. I spend about four hours a day in the gym five days a week. It's my second home. I really screwed everything in my knee up this time. It's the nature of the game, and I've accepted it.
This is your fourth ACL surgery. Do you think women should compete on smaller jumps, as suggested by the results of Kristi Leskinen's survey?
This year, I tore my knee on the X Games course, so a fairly big jump. Last year, I tore my knee on a 10-foot jump. For me, jump size and injury don't really correlate. The bigger jumps are safer -- they clearly spent more time building them so the take-off matches up with the landing and everything else. It's all just opinion. But I would be furious if I showed up for a course and they said, "Oh, here's the girls' course. You can't hit the big jumps."
What's next for you?
I'm just going to be in the gym every day. My goal is to be sore every day to the point where I don't want to get out of bed. Then I know I'm building muscles.