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'What ACL?': One month after tearing knee ligament, skier competes at Olympics

For four years, Philippe Marquis had his eyes on PyeongChang. But on Jan. 8, after three years and 11 months of preparation, with the 2018 Winter Olympics in sight, disaster struck. Marquis, during training for a World Cup event in Deer Valley, Utah, tore the ACL in his right knee.

One month later, he competed at the Olympics anyway.

And, remarkably, he qualified for the finals of the men’s moguls freestyle skiing event with a score of 77.77 on Friday.

“It’s one of those things, you can either stay on the ground or get back up,” he said. “I chose to rise above and I think that’s my force. I don’t give up, I keep fighting. Whatever the outcome at the Olympics is, just to make it from top to bottom is a miracle for me.”

It wasn’t the first time he had used the word “miracle” to describe his run. Days before the Olympics began, he called the simple fact that he was there a “straight-up miracle.”

And there’s a reason he describes it that way. Freestyle moguls skiing involves weaving through bumps down a slope at incredibly high speeds, and landing two jumps that often feature twists and flips. Roughly 99.9 percent of humans would fall on their butts if they attempted a run, ACL or no ACL.

But once Marquis found out he would have no ACL, he decided to put off surgery until after the Olympics. Instead, he immediately began to rehab with designs on competing. He was selected for Canada’s team two weeks after the injury.

“The bumps are big and tight but I expect it will get better every day with some skiing and traffic,” Marquis said of competing on the bum knee. “I’ll have to be extremely smart with my decision making. I’ll probably have to adjust my speed and jumps accordingly.”

He qualified in eighth place, despite apparently feeling a twinge in the knee as he hurtled down the course.

He entered Monday’s final as an underdog – in large part because of the injury. In the first round, he fell and was eliminated. His countryman Mikael Kingsbury eventually won gold.

Philippe Marquis crashed out of the men’s moguls final, but it was remarkable that he was even competing at the Olympics in the first place. (Getty)

But Marquis’ feat is almost as incredible.

He went into the PyeongChang Games with two words written on each of his gloves: On his right, “What ACL?” and on his left, “keep fighting.”

A fitting message, despite Marquis coming up a few runs short of a medal.

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