My name is Shawn Fair and I am a member of the Canadian National Halfpipe Snowboard Team and an Olympic hopeful for the 2022 Beijing games. The last year has been more challenging than anything I have experienced before. In October 2019, I had a brutal crash in a pre-season training camp in Saas Fee, Switzerland that resulted in an undiagnosed meniscal tear to my right knee. I could tell something wasn’t right with my knee, but due to my training and competition schedule and the medical and team advisors recommendations, the true nature of my injury went undiagnosed. Shortly after this crash, while travelling to my next training camp in Austria in November, I came down with Mono. To this day, I have no idea how I got the virus, yet I was left recovering for months, getting my body back into shape for the season.
The 2019/2020 season was the most difficult season I have ever endured. After recovering from mono, my body was weak, and my knee was still injured. I wanted to return to competition as I had lost so much time recovering from Mono. I was unaware of the significant injury to my knee. The season continued and I pressed forward. I worked so hard to get every trick to perfection, but something was preventing me. This later turned out to be the knee injury from October, that had at the time had been considered too minor to have checked. My knee was locking up and I was now told I needed surgery. My doctor didn’t realize how extensive my injury was, until she was into the surgery and then it became clear I needed a much more extensive surgical repair than she first thought. My meniscus was completely torn off at the root and is now was surgically attached to my shin bone. When she told me what she had found during surgery I thought no wonder I was having such difficulty executing my tricks. I was out for spring/summer training and the pre-season due to extensive recovery from the surgery I had in May. I was really lucky to have been able to have my surgery done by one of the best knee surgeons in Canada during the Covid pandemic. This allowed me to rehab my knee without missing as much training as I normally would have, had there not been a pandemic. Covid has made every aspect of our lives more difficult, although, in this circumstance, it actually helped me.
The 2020/2021 season was mainly was about learning to ride again after having a bad knee the previous season and having eight months off snow recovering. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I like to compare my situation to when you first learned how to ride a bike, the training wheels are there to support you, and then after they are gone, the bike feels all wobbly and hard to control. My injury took away years of muscle memory for my tricks. After the accident I subconsciously protected my knee, while still competing and training hard, but this created some bad habits that I then had to unlearn this season. This whole experience really makes me think back to when I was first winning Nationals, and Scovan came out to support me. Since then, I have improved so much, and I was so proud of my riding back then, even though it doesn’t compare to current times. I essentially had to relearn how to snowboard this season. It was simultaneously frustrating and rewarding, like learning to snowboard for the first time again. I am reminded that achieving a high goal will come with setbacks and much hard work. I want to thank the whole team at Scovan for your continued support throughout my years as an athlete. It has been very cool to see how things have changed since we first met.
Written by Shawn Fair, member of the Canadian National Halfpipe Snowboard Team