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How Laurenne Ross overcame more than 200 stitches in her face

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Laurenne Ross issued a warning before discussing her injury history.

“I might start crying, because it makes me really emotional,” she said. “It’s been really hard.”

Sure enough, Ross seamlessly transitioned from crying to laughing and back again in an interview at a pre-Olympic media summit in West Hollywood, Calif.

Ross, who started skiing at 18 months old, had her first injury setback at just 9 years old, when a crash resulted in a major face laceration.

NBCOlympics.com: Five fun questions to get to know Laurenne Ross

“My cheek was basically torn off of my face,” Ross recalled.

Her cheek required more than 100 stitches.

“I am still reminded of it every time I look in the mirror,” Ross said. “To see these scars as a positive part of who I am has taken my whole life, and I’m still working on it.”

Her medical chart has only thickened since then. Shattered pelvis. Torn ACL. Concussions. Multiple broken bones in her hands and wrists. Labral tear in her right hip. A few bulging disks. Two severe ankle sprains. A left shoulder that has been dislocated at least five times.

NBCOlympics.com: How to watch every single Olympic Alpine skiing competition live

She suffered even more facial lacerations in a crash in Lake Louise in 2011, pushing her lifetime accumulation of stitches in her face to over 200.

“All of these injuries took time to come back from,” Ross said, “but have made me stronger in the end.”

I have done this before.... I'm heading into surgery this afternoon here in Vail. They will be repairing my ACL, meniscus, and a few other issues to clean up my right knee. It will be a long recovery, but I am already hungry to get back on my skis. My facial injuries/surgeries have been the hardest ones I've had to come back from mentally (this video was made after my crash in Lake Louise in 2011). I have come back from many injuries in the past, from another ACL to a broken pelvis/back and a dislocated shoulder. This one will be added onto my list and although it may seem serious and daunting, I feel positive and hopeful, courageous and ready to start my road to recovery. Thank-you so much for all the love, kind words, and encouragement. I like to think that this journey will be one of physical toughness, and my mental drive will return with the time I need to get physically strong. For now, I'm f*ing starving and it's time to go under the 🔪 #recoveryday1 #fuckthisshit #laurennesroadtorecovery #longroadtopyeongchang #throwbackfriday

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Ross has had the two best seasons of her eight-year World Cup career since finishing 11th in the Sochi downhill in her Olympic debut. The 29-year-old had seven top-10 finishes during the 2016-17 season, and another nine in 2015-16.  She finished fourth in the Olympic test event downhill in South Korea.

But on March 27, she crashed and blew out her right knee in the giant slalom at the U.S. Championships in Sugarloaf, Maine.

“This specific injury is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through,” Ross said.

I've been through a lot these past few days: fear in anticipation, friendship, lots of giant incisions, bruising and swelling, more pain than I thought I would ever come to know so well, a lot of drugs to assuage that pain, very little sleep, a few excruciating therapy sessions, constant icing, carrying around two friends (in the form of shoulder bags) I named Bert and Ernie who help push more medicine through my nerve blocks. Oh yeah, and love. Support. Encouragement and soothing hugs. I can't thank my mum @jmpurvis55, @tommyford and very soon my dad @robertross1228, enough for helping me through this horrible post-surgery phase. And @annamarno @leannestagramm @staceycookusa @dustin_cormier @thisisjuliaford, among many, for bringing me snacks, spoiling me with cuddles and keeping me positive before going under the knife. Although this process will last a long long while, I've already learned so much through it: how important friendships are, how to function on narcotics, and how to breathe through and be with the pain. Thank-you so much for all the good vibes and healing energy. For the smiles and the laughs 🤗 #laurennesroadtorecovery #longroadtopyeongchang

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Ross returned to World Cup competition on Dec. 9. She recorded a top-10 finish in just the second race of her comeback.

“I know it’s going to be the most difficult thing for me to come back from,” Ross said. “But I love skiing, and I’m so passionate about it. I can’t see myself giving up on it.”

Dominik Paris, world champion skier, suffers season-ending injury

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Italian Dominik Paris, the reigning world champion in the super-G, suffered a season-ending ACL tear in a training crash Tuesday ahead of this weekend’s speed races in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

Paris crashed in super-G training not far from the hallowed World Cup venue, slipping into a curve and damaging his right knee. He also suffered a fibula microfracture, according to the Italian federation.

“My season ends here,” he said, according to the International Ski Federation (FIS). “Unfortunately while I was sliding, the inside ski caught too much and the ligament broke. There is not much to add. In the next few days we will evaluate, together with the medical staff, how to proceed.”

Paris won his third Hahnenkamm downhill title last year and was one of the favorites for Saturday’s downhill, the most prestigious annual race in the sport. NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage for “Snow Pass” subscribers at 5:30 a.m. ET.

Paris, 30, won a pair of downhills in Bormio in December among five total podiums this season.

In his absence, Swiss Beat Feuz and German Thomas Dressen lead the podium contenders.

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MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule

It’s Nathan Chen’s time at nationals for a feat 32 years in the making

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Nathan Chen can join Brian Boitano in U.S. figure skating history this week, a decade after holding Boitano in the palm of his hands with a program set to music from “Kung Fu Panda.”

Chen seeks a fourth straight national title in Greensboro, N.C. He would be the seventh man to do so since World War II. Five of the previous six won Olympic titles — Dick Button, Hayes Jenkins, David Jenkins, Scott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano from 1985-88.

Boitano remembered the first time he met Chen. He and Kristi Yamaguchi were compelled to leave their seats to find the teeny, tiny wunderkind who performed that program to the 2008 DreamWorks film.

“He was taking off his skates, and he probably came up to our waist,” Boitano said. “We knew when we saw him back then that he was going to be something special. He was really quiet. He’s still very quiet.”

In an interview last week, Chen focused on the present — coming back from a two-week cold or flu bug — rather than the perspective.

“I don’t like to typically think about that,” Chen said when asked about his streak. “It’s just different [from year to year]. It’s not really necessarily easier or harder.”

It is also different from previous eras. The last five men to win four in a row did it all in one Olympic cycle, then stepped away from competition after the Winter Games. That was back when turning professional meant the end of an Olympic career.

“It was kind of the norm back then,” Hamilton said. “After that it was kind of back and forth a lot [until Chen]. The business of skating changed so skaters could stay in a lot more, a lot longer. With all the money they brought in, they were able to prevent skaters from turning professional. So that brought in a different approach to nationals.”

NATIONALS PREVIEWS: Nathan Chen | Alysa Liu | Vincent Zhou | Pairs | TV Schedule

Both Hamilton and six-time (non-consecutive) U.S. champion Todd Eldredge could think of just one name to compare Chen’s dominance in the history of U.S. men’s skating: Button, who won the first seven national titles after World War II, plus two Olympic golds.

Button earned national and world titles as a Harvard student. Chen is on a two-season win streak while majoring in statistics and data science at Yale. Button was the first skater to land a double Axel and a triple jump of any kind. Chen was the first to land six quads in one free skate.

Eldredge coaches skaters at the same rink where Chen trains when Chen visits his Southern California-based coach Rafael Arutunian. He is awed by watching Chen working out. Though Eldredge owns more national titles, he never felt the massive favorite status that accompanies Chen.

Eldredge competed in the post-Hamilton/Boitano era, when national champions began competing over multiple Olympic cycles. Eldredge ebbed and flowed from his first national title in 1990, when compulsory figures were still around, to 2002, when he defeated Timothy Goebel, then known as the Quad King.

“Physically, the demands of the sport take their toll on your body,” Eldredge said. “It’s hard to maintain that same level for that length of period of time.

“[In] 12 years [since Chen’s first national title], when he’s 29 years old, is he going to be able to continue to sustain that?”

All of the recent top U.S. men competed in multiple Olympic cycles. The last multiple national champion was Jeremy Abbott, who earned two titles each in two different Olympic cycles. Abbott finished his career in a third Olympic cycle, placing fifth at the 2015 U.S. Championships. Abbott didn’t remember that Chen made his senior nationals debut that year, finishing eighth at age 15.

“For me, winning the third and the fourth [titles] were harder because I started thinking about winning,” Abbott said. “After the second one, I was heading into a new quad and I was two-time U.S. champion. Then my focus was, oh, I’m expected to win. So that was a harder mental game rather than just focusing on making an Olympic team. The expectation now that I’ve done this twice in a row, I’m expected to win again and again and again.”

Abbott and Chen came up in the era of the points-based judging system instituted in 2004.

“Now with the way the scoring system is very different [from the old 6.0], cumulative points, if you have a bad day as a national champion, that’s it. You can’t get the points,” Eldredge said. “[In previous eras], if a certain skater was, I’ll say politically supposed to be the champion, you got a higher score, and rightfully so in most cases.”

Chen has the benefit of going into competitions knowing the kind of advantage he has in base value points from his jumping arsenal. He won last year’s national title by 58 points. This international season, he is 80 points clear of the next-highest-ranked U.S. man, Jason Brown.

“I don’t think that the try-to-push technique is necessarily my goal here,” at nationals, Chen said. “Hopefully just to maintain my body, maintain my health and try to prepare myself for the second half of the season.”

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As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.