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Canada's Ashleigh McIvor, left, leads Australia's Jenny Owens during their quarter-finals run in the women's ski cross on Cypress Mountain at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 23, 2010.

MIKE BLAKE

Olympic ski cross champion Ashleigh McIvor is trying to put a good face on a season-ending injury that befell her on Wednesday during a practice run at the X Games.



After all, she doesn't have a head injury, she says. She doesn't have a spinal injury. The 27-year-old ski cross champ from Whistler, B.C., does have a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee though, which will prevent her from defending her X Games title this week - and it will also keep her out of the world championships next week in Deer Valley, Utah.



But inside, she's definitely frustrated. "It sort of comes in waves," she said Thursday on a conference call. "I go through phases of being okay with it, and just sort of focusing on how much worse it could be and how lucky I am that nothing really serious happened.

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"And then I have my meltdowns here and there."



She's thankful that it was not last year's X Games, which was the final event before the Vancouver Olympics.



McIvor slipped up on a course with bigger and more daunting features than anything any ski crosser had faced all year. Coach Eric Archer said the course was hugely intimidating in training for the women on Wednesday, especially at the final jump that had athletes soaring so high "I think they're even getting bored up there and don't know what to do before they hit the ground," he said.



The final jump has been altered so that the women will take a smaller jump for the rest of the week, although the men were "having a blast" over it, Archer said.



McIvor took the big final jump without a problem - a bigger jump than she'd ever faced in her life. Only two or three women hit it in training on Wednesday.



But on a subsequent run, she hit a tricky, smaller jump about a third of the way down. It was, Archer said, the hardest feature on the course to read. McIvor was following some of the men, missed making a move off some rollers and overshot it a lot. She flew twice as high as Canadian men's competitor Chris Del Bosco, and landed very hard on a flat area. Her knee buckled.



"This wasn't even an intimidating part of the course," she said. "I was fine on the parts that were scary."

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Archer, who was videotaping the Canadian athletes on the hill, heard her scream when she landed. Both knew she was in serious trouble.



McIvor had torn her ACL in 2005 - in the same knee.



She won't be able to have surgery for a couple of weeks, until the swelling goes down. It will probably be a few months before she can ride a bike, probably about six months before she can start to ski again.



McIvor will remain in Aspen to be close to her physiotherapist and will see a lot of her hotel room. But she vows she will stand at the bottom of the hill on Sunday to cheer her teammates on. "I'll tough it out," she said.



And she intends to go to the world championships, too. She has little choice. Her family has already booked flights and hotel rooms that can't be cancelled.



And when McIvor returns to Whistler, she'll have to make alternate plans for sleeping. She has to crawl up a ladder to get to her bedroom at home. That won't be happening any time soon.

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