June Fladborg’s crash could have ended her career and even the use of her leg — find out how she’s battling back.
Years from now, how will June Fladborg look back on 2010? She won four of the six major water-ski events: the Masters, the L.A. Nite Jam 3, the Ukraine Open and the European Championships. In Lincoln, England, at the Cray Valley Open, she set what was then a world record for the longest female water-ski jump, at 187 feet. But one month later, there was the crash that changed everything.
Fladborg clearly isn’t afraid of the unknown. She steps into it with every jump. But when the unknown shifts and forces you to question whether you will be able to water ski again, or even have both of your feet for the rest of your life, that’s a whole diferent kind of test.
Dr. J. Dean Cole, the medical director of the Fracture Care Center of the Florida Hospital Orthopaedic Institute in Orlando, said of her fateful fall at the Rocketman Night Jump: “June broke both feet on impact from her jump. The right heel basically exploded upon contact with the ski. That resulted in severe damage to nerves, muscles and skin while it broke into more than 20 pieces, some the size of pieces of corn.”
Take that in for a second. Fladborg has had a long time to take it in.
“It was at the peak of my career,” Fladborg says. “I had been skiing really well and wanted to break the 60-meter mark. I got the lift up the ramp, just never connected with it, and then, in Polk City, it was quite a windy day, and I got off the ramp …”
She trails off for a moment, remembering the accident.
“My heel slipped when I was off in the air, and I pushed into my lean a little early,” she says. “I wasn’t used to the high incline. I went into a flight position, and with my heel out of the boot a little bit I didn’t have enough control to get the skis back. I thought I got the ski back and by then didn’t have time to roll before I landed.”