Red Bull X-Alps

Injured athletes discuss rehab and recovery: Part One

Those first days of the Red Bull X-Alps were brutal and took a punishing toll on athletes. Then there were the accidents suffered by the French athletes Antoine Girard and Gaspard Petiot. How’s their recovery, both mental and physical, coming along? In the first instalment, we chat to Aaron Durogati and Antoine Girard to find out.

FRA1 170626 HT XAlps 0022
 FRA1 170702 VL X-Alps 83
 ITA1 170702 VL X-Alps 12
 ITA1 170705 SM XAlps 5190

Aaron Durogati

It’s still not perfect but it’s getting better. In the last few weeks I’ve started to run again and I’m training a bit, not like before. But I can run and I’m really happy about that. I took part in Red Bull Dolomitenmann with no problems but I’m still doing physio two to three times a week.

Something really strange happened. Basically everyone was thinking I have a meniscus problem but that’s actually not what happened. It’s almost unbelievable but my fibula went out from the place where it should be, basically like a dislocation. The doctor is pretty sure it comes from the accident three years ago – my ankle is not 100 perfect and I sink a little bit inside of the foot when I walk.

Everyone is telling me that maybe I was pushing too much on the prologue. That’s bullsh*t because the prologue was my standard training, – 1,000m up and down. I trained like hell and never had anything, then the first day of the race it happened. It’s pretty bad luck. It was a bit hard for me to accept but that’s the life.

Antoine Girard

I was operated on late July and spent three weeks in bed after the operation. I can now set foot on the ground but I still can not walk. I flew at the Acores paragliding festival but with help on take-off and landing. I used a full splint and didn't step on the floor. It was just an exception – the next flight will not be for another five months!

I broke my fingers and had a lot of hematomas (severe bruising) on my legs, the femur is also somewhat damaged. The most important is a tearing of the external ligaments of the knee and the cruciate ligaments. After five weeks the full pain still prevents me from sleeping. It's not yet possible to stop taking painkillers.

A full 100% recovery is scheduled for two years, in time for the next Red Bull X-Alps! I will be able to start trying to bend the knee at four months after the operation. At six months I should be able to start trotting. At eight months I will be able to resume the sport seriously.

The problem is the external ligament which is a rather big operation.

Was it the right decision to take-off?

Given the weather conditions we all played heads or tails! Before taking off I knew it. I played, I lost. Outside the competition I wouldn't even have taken the wing out of my bag! It’s hard to say if I regret my choice. That was my decision, other pilots made the same choice and succeeded. Nothing serves to look behind, I must now advance. I will take advantage of this rest time to prepare my next expeditions. Future projects motivate me more than anything!

Stay tuned for our catch-up with Stephan Gruber and Gaspard Petiot next week!

Photos by © zooom / Harald Tauderer, © zooom / Vitek Ludvik and © zooom / Sebastian Marko

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