Joss Christensen's Road to Recovery to Compete for Team USA at the Olympic Winter Games 2018

Landing tricks is the name of the game in freestyle skiing. It takes skill, determination, an innate understanding of physics and the ability to conquer fear. Joss Christensen, the defending U.S. Olympic Slopestyle Gold Medalist, knows how to master a mountain, and what it takes to stick the landing. That’s why he knew a ski run earlier in May would be his last — for a while.

During training, the Team USA athlete and X Games medalist was working on a new trick — one he had not attempted in competition. The Park City, Utah native landed it a few times during a great — but also long — day of practice and wanted to throw it down one more time.    

“The day I got hurt was probably one of the best days I'd had on my skis in over a year. I had a few small injuries in 2016, so it was hard for me to battle through those and get my confidence back,” he said. “I had learned three new tricks by that point and was having a really good time. But if you keep going after a long day, you're putting yourself at risk for something bad to happen.”

His equipment malfunctioned on that jump and when he heard a pop, he also felt it in his knee. The diagnosis, a torn ACL and meniscus, as well as an MCL sprain, required reconstructive surgery and time off the slopes to heal. But he has never wavered from his goal to recover in time to for the U.S. Olympic qualifying events — with the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 firmly in his sight. 

How Joss Christensen Trains for Team USA and Prepares for the Olympic Winter Games

His road to recovery was both mental and physical. While injured and not very mobile, Joss worked with a sports psychologist to help him prepare to return to freestyle skiing and competition. When he was ready for the day-to-day physical aspects, he started running on a reduced gravity treadmill and lifting weights as well as simulating skiing by incorporating plyometrics, or jump training. While his training regimen was on the fast track — seven months rather than a year or more — he took each day as it came in the hopes of getting back on the mountain by the end of 2017.

Joss’ Winning Rehab Nutrition Plan Is Fueled by Milk

Recovering from an injury also requires a healthy and balanced diet plan in addition to physical rehab. Foods that deliver nutrients like high-quality protein are essential for elite athletes to help build lean muscle and repair their bodies from rigorous training and physical therapy sessions.

“My diet and nutrition has been a huge part of my journey to get back on my skiis,” Joss said. “I need the right foods to make sure my body is fueled so I can max out every day. I need to get as strong as I can, as quick as I can.”

One food Joss keeps on hand is milk. That’s because each 8-ounce glass of white milk is a nutrient powerhouse that contains 8 grams of protein to help build lean muscle. It also contains essential bone-building nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, as well as B vitamins for converting food into energy and vitamin A for a healthy immune system. It’s wholesome and delicious, and Joss finds that drinking milk with both meals and snacks is an easy way to fuel up before his training sessions.

“Snacks are such a huge part of my diet plan because I need a fast way to fuel up,” Joss said. “I make sure I have multiple snacks throughout the day — always with milk. When I have some nuts and a glass of milk, I know I’m getting the right nutrition for my body, which fills me up so I can continue to train, without slowing me down.

For Joss, milk is integral for his diet plan — and will remain on his training menu long after he returns to competition. 

“I’m coming back stronger than ever, both mentally and physically,” he said. “You’ll see Joss 2.0.”

Follow Team Milk and Team USA Athletes to the Olympic Winter Games

To learn more about milk's role at the training table on the road to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 and to watch exclusive videos from our Team Milk athletes, visit Fueling Team USA.

Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter and on Instagram.