Dionne ready to hit the hill

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:34 PM ET

Deidra Dionne got the green light from her doctor and didn't waste any time.

The Red Deer aerialist, just three months removed from neck surgery, said she was going to do some fun skiing this weekend. On Thursday, she was told she could get back on planks for the first time since a devastating crash in September.

She's still planning to compete in the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

"I'm definitely back in the game and I should be back on my skis sometime before Christmas jumping. I should have plenty of time to get ready for Italy," said the 23-year-old.

She's also had plenty of time to think about her future after landing on her head during a training run prior to a World Cup in Australia.

Dionne, the 2002 Olympic bronze medallist, injuring her C4 and C5 vertebrae. The C5 was fractured and she underwent a seven-hour operation to repair her neck in Melbourne, Australia.

Doctors grafted bone from her hip and secured it with a titanium plate and screws. She was told beforehand it was a routine operation. Afterwards, the lead surgeon told her he hadn't slept the night before because of nerves.

Dionne was lucky she wasn't paralysed and briefly pondered quitting but decided against it.

"Initially I was just happy to still be walking and have my health. I went through the 'Oh my God, I don't want to do this anymore. It's not worth it,' " she said. "But as I lay in the hospital bed a bit longer, I started to do the timelines and I thought there was a chance. I really did want to come back and be ready in time for the Olympics."

Along with support from her parents, Dionne talked with teammate Warren Shouldice, who suffered a similar injury in the summer of 2002 and successfully returned to freestyle.

As for getting back into the twists and turns of freestyle aerial skiing, Dionne is up for the challenge but knows things will be tough initially.

"I'll definitely be nervous. How could I not be? But it's something I'm really excited about overcoming. I know that when you are nervous it's that much more rewarding when you work through it and I'm looking forward to that," she said.


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