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.

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“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.

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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.”