Survivor Story: Traveling New Trails with Hannah Halvorsen, US Cross Country Ski Team


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By Mariah Morgan & Eryn Martin, Mariah Morgan, and Eryn Martin. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

In a world where being fast and pushing through exhaustion is everything, the slow down after a brain injury is especially jarring. Hannah Halvorsen, professional ski racer on the US Cross Country Ski Team, joins us to share what brain injury has taught her. Take a listen to our talk on how awareness, acceptance, appreciation, kindness, support, and gratitude have all culminated to make this athlete a true star!

In this episode:

  • Hannah’s Story
  • Hit by a car when crossing the street in November 2019
  • Suffered a subdural hematoma and knee injury
  • Her knee, the visible injury, slowed her down from jumping right back into skiing. This was a blessing in disguise as it slowed her down from pushing too hard with her brain injury.
  • Some of her brain injury symptoms were much more vague and would leave her wondering if it was just her being lazy or over sensitive
  • Some lessons:
  • As soon as you start to feel tired, just stop
  • As a high level athlete you are trained to push through fatigue, pain, and exhaustion--that’s what gives you an edge. With a brain injury you have to adjust and learn to listen to yourself
  • Returning to skiing
  • Her coach understood that she needed to take it slow and helped her train at a safe pace
  • The knee’s rehab was cut and dry with tangible protocols to follow. Brain recovery requires so much more awareness since others can’t see what is happening. We aren’t trained to have awareness of our brain function so when changes occur it is easy for us to judge ourselves as being personal failures
  • When she could admit that there was depression and accept it as a result of her brain injury it helped lessen her personal burden
  • “Everything is going great,” but she didn’t feel great. That can lead to feeling ungrateful because everyone perceives you as being an inspiration but you don’t feel that way. Everyone’s support is amazing but it doesn’t take away the depression and can feel extra heavy.
  • Being a professional athlete means there are many resources for recovery. Like most things in life you have to go get it. Through the recovery process, Hannah has learned to assess what the resources are and how to ask for them. Asking for and accepting help can be really hard to do but is a crucial skill especially in recovery
  • Gratitude
  • For having health insurance and access to care
  • For having strong support systems
  • For all the people that have helped
  • For inter-reliance and the loving support of others.
  • Lessons from recovery
  • Becoming more aware of how you treat yourself allows you to better treat others.
  • Getting help when you are struggling helps to fill you back up. You are not alone, there is help
  • It takes a team to recover.
  • Gratitude for physical abilities that were easy to take for granted prior to the injury
  • An ability to appreciate things even if they aren’t perfect
  • Appreciate what you can do today. Celebrate what you did rather than focusing on what you couldn’t do.
  • A new appreciation for health without picking on every little thing about your body. It was a time to reset thinking.
  • It’s not about denying yourself your goals. It’s about accepting where you are and working towards what you want.
  • Advice when you are in the thick of recovery: figure out what you can be grateful for and what you can do today. If you can accomplish both of those things, that’s enough!
  • Follow Hannah:
  • Instagram: @hannah.g.halvorsen


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47 episodes