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Boulder skier Alyssa Lawson recovers in time for Freestyle Junior World Championships

CLIFF GRASSMICK
Boulder High graduate, Alyssa Lawson, is packing for a trip to Italy for a skiing competition. Cliff Grassmick / March 16, 2012

BOULDER — A serious fall and a concussion could have ended Alyssa Lawson’s ski season. But she didn’t let it.

Right before Thanksgiving, on her second day jumping at practice, the 19-year-old Boulder native fell and was knocked unconscious for nearly a minute. It was several hours before she could remember anything.

Two weeks into the season, she was hurt. She wasn’t allowed to ski for a month, but returned to the slopes and will compete in the 19-under 2012 Freestyle Junior World Championships in Valmalenco, Italy.

Lawson is back to doing what she loves most and at the highest level.

“I was very happy,” said Lawson, one of four athletes selected to represent the United States. “One day skiing, I was with one of my coaches and he said, ‘That’s how you normally ski.’ I was like, ‘Yes, two months after my concussion I can finally ski again.'”

A skier for the freestyle team Winter Park, where she lives during the winter, Lawson was on the U.S. freestyle development team for the first time this season.

Lawson recently returned from a month competing against the top ranked American and Canadian skiers at NorAm tour events around the U.S. and Canada. She finished fourth, sixth and ninth at three different events and finished 11th overall in the NorAm tour standings, earning her the chance to compete in the Junior World Championships.

This won’t be Lawson’s first appearance at the World Championships. Last year she qualified third for the finals and finished 10th. This year she’s setting her sights a little higher.

“I’d love to win, because if I win it I make the U.S. ski team,” Lawson said. “That’s what I’m planning for.”

Lawson will compete in the single moguls event on Saturday. It will be a challenge, but not as challenging as trying to mount a return to competitive skiing after a crushing head injury.

“That was really hard. I went to a sports psychologist, brain-mapping person, and she helped me make sure my head was still OK,” Lawson said. “She helped me get ready to ski again and not be nervous.”

After considerable effort and preparation, Lawson said she wasn’t too nervous when she first returned to the slopes. She skied just one day before the selections were made for the NorAm tour.

Lawson is a graduate of Boulder High and is taking this year off before college. She qualified for the freestyle skiing world cup a year ago but didn’t this year because of her concussion.