Jamie MoCrazy‘s traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurred on her second competition run in slopestyle skiing at the finals of the World Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler in April, 2015.
Two years before, she became the first woman (her birth name is Crane-Mauzy) in the world to double flip in a competition run at the X Games.
In Whistler on that April day, trying for a podium finish, she attempted an off-axis double backflip, caught an edge and fell.
The fall resulted in a ten-day medically induced coma. Doctors used a groundbreaking method to monitor the oxygen levels in her brain due to her life-or-death situation. Eventually, MoCrazy was able to mend and rewire her brain to re-learn all fundamental motor abilities and primary functions with amazing mental strength, which took years to heal and stabilize. After eight months of intensive therapy, Jamie was back to full health and skiing again.
In the runup to the Utah native’s return to Whistler for a Welcome Party (on Friday, May 27 at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler) we talked to the skier about her inspiring journey and next steps.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what this event means to you?
When I came back to Whistler one year after I almost died at Whistler, it was a life-changing experience. Until my one-year anniversary, I did not believe my accident was as critical as it was. During my one-year anniversary week my little sister Jeanee decided if I got married it would be in Whistler. I had never had a long-term boyfriend and wasn’t sure I would ever get married. A snowboarder who is addicted to the mountains entered my life, and when we thought of getting married the idea of a wedding at the top of one of the world’s best ski resorts seemed pretty good to him! As soon as we decided we wanted the wedding in Whistler we wanted to have a night so the other individuals who played a part in saving my life would be able to see the beautiful viewpoint they created.
Q: What inspired the idea to hold this event?
There are so many Whistler individuals that were affected by my accident. I still have people reaching out on social media from Whistler. We wanted to have a Welcome Party that is inviting individuals that were affected by the TBI to see a happy ending to that chapter of life and a beautiful beginning of my next chapter.
Q: If you could go back in time seven years ago, what would you say to your past self?
The paths and mountains won’t be what you expect, but if you keep walking you will get to some beautiful views.
Q: Can you describe your journey in three words?
Mountain, Tragedy, Triumph.
Q: What is your biggest takeaway from your recovery?
The actions I choose to take create the habits that develop and change the outcomes I experience. It takes a long time to heal from a TBI and a very long time to climb full alternative peaks. I have to remind myself to be patient and focus on all the steps I am taking to create my dreams, not stay fixated I am not summiting the peak yet. I also learned many invisible struggles are the ones that are the most challenging and affect people the most.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most in this new chapter?
There are some huge things the MoCrazy Strong girls are working on: a documentary, book, PR, speaking, feature film, peer to peer TBI education… and Reggie and I are planning on having kids somewhere in there as well! I want to inspire millions on what to do when life gets mocrazy and I’m very excited to start reaching summits of the peaks I have been climbing for years!.
Q: What inspired you to start public speaking?
I have always loved the adrenaline from performing, so I thought after my ski career I would go into public speaking. However, I had no idea how and when my ski career would end. When my mind started returning I already had speaking in the back of my mind, and two events solidified that dream. Four months after my TBI, two months after I left the hospital, while I was still attending outpatient therapies, I went to a brain injury conference. The speakers would share about how they were 30 years down the road and list all the deficits they still had. The underlying advice from many of the speakers was that your life would always be worse and you had to live with it. That was really hard for me to hear.
I did not think I had to learn to settle with my TBI deficits, and I did not think accepting a worse life was a message TBI survivors needed to hear. The second moment that inspired me to start public speaking was when I returned to Vancouver and Whistler for my one-year anniversary. I met so many individuals who had such a big part in saving my life. They all touched on the fact that I had a story tied into so many lessons on believing in that 1 percent chance. If I told my story I would be inspiring and saving millions of lives.
Q: How comfortable are you with public speaking now?
When I was a child, at a gymnastics competition I was bragging about how calm I felt. That was my worst floor performance. My gymnastics teacher explained to me how you always want the adrenaline, you just need to learn how to harness it! I have been learning how to harness the adrenaline, and a lot of actions that make me look more professional and the audience doesn’t notice if done right. Like the steps I take, keeping my body still, when to articulate loud and when quiet. Another thing that has helped is Glemati Road Pictures creating a great introduction video and a video of my mom and sister talking about the accident.
Q: What is a key lesson you always try to teach?
When presenting I tell stories all tied into valuable lessons. I touch on the importance of mindset, how to be your own personal best, set attainable goals and take an unexpected path to summit your peak. This allows audience members to choose direction, take steps, and commit to action. And it allows the audience to become more productive in the workplace, and be able to execute their jobs more efficiently while facing unexpected trauma.
Q: How has your perspective on your sport changed?
I used to think if you put in the work and training you could always accomplish what you wanted. Now I know you can’t always control everything; however if you keep taking steps down paths even if the mountains abruptly change, you can always create a life you love.