Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hockey Halloween

Melissa and I went out Halloweening over the weekend. It was good times.

I decided to be a hockey player and Melissa was my hot little "puck bunny". If you're wondering what a puck bunny is, I'll explain: It's the girl who goes to every game, all dressed up with tons of makeup, wearing the team jersey and hoping to score!

Yeah Hockey! jk. I think this is super funny because of more than the obvious reasons (I did look pretty bad ass with my black eye though...and it's kind of funny that Melissa is holding my 'hockey' stick in this picture...I guess she liked the black eye too! I'm such a manly man!)

I have a mixed opinion about hockey players. When I went to the National Sports School most of my classes were full of these hard working and talented souls! Just imagine how much fun it was for me, the male gymnast, to be in this environment. They thought that I pranced around the floor with a ribbon to a Celine Dion song. Not all of them, but many of them. I'm over it, but do you know what feels kind of great? I don't think any of them made it NHL. haha. Suckers!

I have met many NHLers whom I really respect and admire though. I wasn't exactly trying to portray an NHL star with my costume. I was trying to poke fun at the weekend warrior, the small town boy with big dreams, the one who is so manly and tough that he earns the respect of those around him...and if they don't respect him then he punches them out! Yes folks, I was the number one hockey player in ANY small town!

I do have a small beef about NHL hockey that I would like to share. The pay checks. Right after Athens I did a talk at the Calgary Booster Club's Sportsman of the Year Dinner. Ken King, President of the Calgary Flames and a buddy of mine, was at the dinner as well. This was around the time when hockey was struggling with the price caps and all of that BS. Anyway, when I opened my presentation I started talking about my start in sport as a hockey player at 5 years old. Then I talked about how gymnastics and hockey started to conflict when I was about 7 because of the overwhelming time commitments and about how my parents made me choose between the 2. I told the audience how I thought I picked the right sport...They nodded their approval. But then I hit them with this gem: "because if I was a hockey player then I wouldn't be able to pay my mortgage this year. Wah Wah!" It got a huge applause, even some cheers. It was one of my finer comedic moments!

Seriously though, I don't think the hockey guys truly understand how difficult it is financially for many amateur athletes. I can't imagine any of them agreeing to play for $18,000 a year (this is the paycheck to be a carded athlete in Canada...and many of us are doing our sport full-time). That is less than what many of them make in a week. But I guess they are hard done by when it comes to professional sport. I have heard of some salaries in soccer and basketball that are absolutely ridiculous. 25 million a year...I don't think I could even spend that much cash!

Halloween was sweet. I had my night as a rough and tough hockey phenom and it was fun while it lasted, but I've decided to retire from that night was enough. And I even got the hottest puck bunny of them all! He shoots, he scores! haha. Plus, I don't have any time for hockey...I've got some important ribbon twirling to attend to!

Have a fun and safe Halloween!


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Floppy Leg

When you don't use your muscles, your muscles go away.

This photo was taken a few weeks after surgery.
It has been a really hard process to watch all of my muscles atrophi and know that there is only one way of getting that muscle back...and that is hard work baby!
I know that I am going to have to do a million calf raises and a gazillion squats to get my little pork chops back. I am more than willing to do the work, it's just very frustrating to know that it is going to take months to regain the tone and strength that I had when the injury happened. I wish that there was a magic muscle inflator that you get after you are healed from surgery.
Oh well, Susan told me that my legs weren't all that big to start off with anyways....
Maybe not big, but they were definitely packed with punch!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New Hardware

Here is a pic of my x-rays.

The left leg is the one with the GIANT key looking thing in it and the right has the single screw.

The new hardware is made of stainless steel (apparently a great selling feature in a home!) and will remain in me until I choose to have them removed. I need to keep them in until the Olympics, but I am not so sure about going in for another surgery to have them removed. I kind of like my new additions...makes me feel a bit like the bionic man. Plus, I don't ever want to experience the pain and discomfort I had to endure when I had them put in.
That was not fun at all!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I had an appointment with Dr.Mohtadi this morning and I got some pretty cool news. I got the go ahead to remove the left brace.

Now it's time to start the true rehabilitation process. First, I have to get my left leg straight. This is a daunting task because no matter how gentle you are, it just feels nasty when you move your leg past the point of comfort. Sad thing is, you have to push it because it's the only way that you can regain full range of motion. It almost feels like my knee cap needs to be injected with some WD40. Then, after it's straight, I need to do some serious strengthening! My skin is just dangling off and my muscles are goo. I desperately need some definition!

After my appointment, I walked out of the office with only one crutch and I was motorin' along! I could almost feel the breeze through my hair and the wind on my cheeks. haha. Actually, I was pretty slow because my left leg felt like it could give out at any, it was icy outside because it snowed the night before (Calgary weather sucks sometimes!).

I can not explain the amount of relief I get from this news. I feel more independent already. Freedom is a marvelous thing!

Now, I have to figure out what to do with the braces. I thought that I might have a burning party, but those things cost me 600 bucks!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Weekend with the Manjaks!

After the Toronto Gold Medal Plates event, Melissa and I spent 4 days with Kelly, Sue and Barrett.

For those of you who don't know, Kelly was my coach from the time I was 6 until the Athens Olympic Games. We have a very close relationship and I consider him and his family a part of my family. His friendship is one of the most important friendships in my life and I call him often for advice and to keep him updated. It was awesome to soak up his optimism and have some time to catch up.

Kelly is now coaching at the Oakville Gymnastics Club and I had a chance to go into the gym and do a little workin' out. The amount that I can do is still pretty lame, but I did some good core and upper body conditioning. It felt awesome to move and to be inspired by my old coach.

One of the things that I admire so much about Kelly is his desire to produce good people ahead of good athletes. I might be a little biased here, but I think he is the best coach this country has to offer. He can take any kid and help them reach their full potential. He instills a love for gymnastics in the kids and believes above all else that gymnastics should be fun. I had to laugh when he told me a story about one of his girls who finally went for one of her skills and he gave her free time for a week! This is just the type of guy he is. Calm, relaxed, funny and passionate about gymnastics. He could probably teach a giant or back flip to anyone off the street, as long as they were willing to learn.

Kelly and Sue have a lot of really talented girls and the atmosphere that they create in the gym is phenomenal. It's productive, fun and ultra motivating!

Spending time with Kelly really uplifted my spirit. He was constantly thinking of every little thing that I could do to help myself heal faster. He asked me how far I could bend my left knee. I showed him how far and then he told me to do it 20,000 times! I gimped around the house as much as possible and hot tubbed in the backyard. Every day Kelly would remind me that I was going to heal fast and that everything would be OK.

It was so nice to have a change of environment. I feel like I am back on track. I am starting to believe that this comeback is possible again and I am excited about attacking it! I can only do so much, but I am realizing that it's up to me to take initiative and do it.

Thanks to the Manjak family for the great weekend. I feel revitalized and ready to get to work!


Friday, October 19, 2007

Gold Medal Plates - Toronto - October 18th, 2007

Yesterday was the kick off event for Gold Medal Plates 2007!

The event was the first of seven cities (I will be attending 5 events) and was held downtown Toronto at the beautiful Carlu.

Melissa and I flew out in the morning (7 am flights are a little harsh on the system) and arrived with just enough time to grab lunch and have a quick nap in prep for the festivities.

I had a great time. I saw tons of my Olympic buddies including Marnie McBean, Curt Harnett, Jenn Heil, Adam Van Koeverden, Simon Whitfield, Karen Cockburn, Alexandra Orlando, Paul Rosen, Lori-Ann Muenzer and Perdita Felicien to name a few. Everyone was in great spirits and the event raised tons of cash for the Own the Podium and Road to Excellence initiatives.

The food and wine at the event were very swanky. There was one bottle up for auction for $14,000. Seriously, who would spend 14 grand on a bottle of wine. That would be almost $500 a sip...are you kidding me. I like wine, but I don't think I could ever appreciate it that much. I would be thinking about the new car I could buy with that money! The food was interesting as well. There was one dish that was some sort of brain, another that was various parts of a spring rolls and cheese balls here. It was very high class.

Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo and Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies were in attendance and they did an off the cuff duet to Blue Rodeo's song "Try".(this is Blue Rodeos Video)

This is one of my all time favourites! Actually, Blue Rodeo played a concert at the 2000 Olympics for all of the Canadian delegation and it was awesome. I think I drank a little bit too much beer (they had Coors Light and Molson Canadian brought in especially for the could I resist!) to completely appreciate the moment, but from what I remember a good time was had by all!

For me, Steven and Jim's performance was definitely a highlight of the Toronto GMP event.

Of course, many of the conversations I had were about my injury and how everything was progressing. I must admit that having crutches and a brace is a great conversation starter. I told people that things were coming along slowly, but progress was being made. It's kind of funny how you try to assure everyone, and maybe yourself, that things are OK. Why is this? I should have told them that it was pissin' me off and I was ready to kill someone yesterday!

When I saw Marnie she came up to me and asked, "How's your f*$%ing knees?"

Haha! This is exactly what I needed. Honesty and humor. I loved it!

After the awesome time I had last night, my f*#$ing knees (and overall moral) are feeling much better!


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Stupid Legs!

Wednesday, October 17th.

Today, I am pissed off! I am sick of being optimistic. It feels like I am never going to heal and I am going to be forever remembering the way I used to be able to do things.

I don't feel like a gymnast. I feel like I have never done the sport before. I feel completely removed from it and from the day to day routine of training. I can't remember what it feels like to get ready for training. I can't remember what it feels like to lay in bed at night and have my head spinning with the possibilities the next day holds. My body is getting squishy. It's the furthest away from athletic that it has ever been. My calluses are gone. My legs are as skinny as Nicole Richie's. My stomach has lost the lean tone (I am embarrassed to take off my shirt). Trying to imagine doing a Def (a 1.5 twisting release move on high bar) is impossible. This isn't good.

I think that I was so positive for so long after this injury because I was in the best shape of my life when it happened. I could still visualize my routines so vividly when I was in Germany. Even after I hurt myself, I was still making plans for the things I wanted to add to my routines for the upcoming season. I could mentally feel myself doing gymnastics...even if I couldn't physically do it.

Now, my goals are starting to become blurry. I am uncertain of what I want. I'm scared because my brain is starting to play tricks on me. I keep asking myself the question: Do I want to struggle through this or do I want to just say screw it? The struggle seemed so appetizing before. I love a challenge. I love surprising myself and pushing myself to the limit. But now, that struggle seems like it is drowning me.

I have hit that 2 month wall and being positive is wearing thin.

I talked to Hap today and he said this is normal. He said that I should be upset...he was actually quite surprised that I made it this far without getting really mad!

Hap asked me if I trust people who lie to me. Of course I don't. I hate liars. He asked me why then would I trust myself if I felt pissed off, but tried to cover it up and pretend to be happy. Good question. I guess we sometimes need permission to be MAD!

It makes sense. It is a natural emotion, one that I don't experience too often, but one that is important to express because it helps you sort things out and deal with your issues.

Right now, I'm gonna deal. A good vent session is in order:

Do you know what makes my blood boil right now? It's everyone else not understanding how frickin' difficult this has been (no offence to anyone). Yes, I have made tons of progress. That is clearly evident by the single brace and the lack of wheelchair, but that doesn't mean that this is all happy. This is the most difficult and frustrating injury I have ever had to deal with...and right now feels like the lowest point. On the outside I look like I am moving forward, but on the inside I feel like an out of shape, weak has-been who is sick and tired of being lazy! I try to be diligent. I try to be as optimistic as possible. "I will heal fast. Everything is ahead of schedule. I am doing everything I can". You know what though, today I am feeling down and admitting to myself that this just plain ol' sucks.

*That felt good!*

Seriously, who breaks both of their legs at the same time less than a year before the Olympics?

Today I just want to be mad that it happened. It's probably not the most respectable or envious attitude to have, but I am human and I need this.

I think a change of scenery and pace is desperately needed.

Luckily, Melissa and I are off to Toronto tomorrow for the Gold Medal Plates kick off event and a weekend with Kelly, Sue and their son Barrett.

I think this is just what I need to regain my positive perspective and optimism.

Stupid Legs!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I would like to make an announcement!

I am no longer completely dependant on everyone else!

I've got wheels and I know how to use them! Just don't tell the insurance company!

I got the clearance to drive a few days ago and I finally got the guts up to try it on my own. I don't know why I was worried, it's just always weird to drive when you haven't in a while. It's almost like I didn't trust myself.

As it turns out, the driving part is actually easy, it's the getting in and out of the car that is hard. You have to throw your crutches in, making sure that you are close enough to the drivers seat that you can shimmy around and sit in it with your legs hanging out the side. Then you have to carefully turn yourself a quarter turn and then you are in position to drive.

I never knew how much I took stepping into a car for granted.

I had to trade cars with my dad because I drive a 5 speed VW golf and he drives an automatic Saturn. Pushing the clutch in with my left foot was impossible.

To be able to get from A to B without having to have assistance is a very liberating feeling though. The only bad thing is the distance that I have to crutch to get into the University from the parking lot. Chaffing sucks. Thank goodness it isn't -30 and snowing though!

See you at the red lights,


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

IG Online Interview

Here is an article that was posted on IG Online today:

IG Online Interview: Kyle Shewfelt (Canada) By John Crumlish

A month after surgery on both legs, 2004 Olympic floor exercise champion Kyle Shewfelt of Canada told IG he plans to be 100 percent back by January.

Shewfelt (pictured at right in Stuttgart with the Czech Republic's Jana Komrskova) was injured Aug. 27 while training for the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, when he landed stiff-legged on a layout Arabian double front on floor exercise.

The 25-year-old Shewfelt underwent surgery on Sept. 7 by Dr. Nick Mohtadi, a surgeon with the Canadian Sport Centre in Calgary.

Shewfelt is the reigning Olympic champion on the event, as well as the 2003 and 2006 world championships bronze medalist.

Shewfelt's injury sidelined him in Stuttgart, where he remained for the team qualification round to support his Canadian teammates. Even without Shewfelt's scores, the Canadian men finished 11th, earning Canada one of 12 team berths to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Shewfelt plans to spend the next several months rehabilitating his legs and hopes to defend his Olympic floor exercise title in Beijing.

In this IG Online interview, the optimistic Shewfelt describes what happened in Stuttgart, his intended recovery process and his ultimate goal of returning to the Olympic Games next year.

IG: Was the nature of your injury more complicated than you originally thought?

KS: It was definitely more complicated than originally expected. As it turns out, both fractures were displaced, and the left knee had a chipped bone and a stretched ligament. During surgery they put one screw into my right knee, and two screws and a plate into the left. They also had to reattach the bone chip and stabilize the stretched ligament.

IG: Based on the progress you've made between surgery and now, how long do you think you will need to be back at 100 percent?

KS: It's been a few weeks since surgery, and things are going pretty well. I am still very restricted, but I have a bit more freedom in terms of movement and activity.
After surgery, I woke up with two giant braces on my legs. I was able to partially weight-bear on the right, as the brace was set to allow a 30- to 90-degree range of motion. The left was locked in at 30 degrees. I think the first two weeks after surgery were the most difficult, because I couldn't do anything on my own and I was in quite a bit of pain.
During this time, I spent a lot of time doing nothing! It was a struggle to conjure up any motivation because it was a huge effort to do easy, everyday tasks. I had some time to catch up on my movies and read a few good books, though, so that was all right!

IG: What is your present condition?

KS: I got clearance to remove the right brace. I am now allowed to work up to full weight-bearing on this leg — although it is really stiff and I can't bend or straighten it all the way yet. I also get hyperextension flashbacks when I straighten it too much — not a nice feeling!. I am also allowed to partially weight-bear on the left. Dr. Mohtadi said that the left should be about a month behind the right due to the ligament damage.

I think that I should be back to 100 percent by January. I should be back into training in a couple of weeks. I have time right now, so I need to make sure that I heal properly. I have the tendency to get frustrated and try to push myself too much a little too soon, but I need to avoid doing this. It will be counterproductive, and I want to come back strong.

IG: What kind of physical therapy and conditioning are you doing?

KS: I have been doing physio since a few days after surgery. Just basic stuff like ultrasound, laser treatments, muscle stimulation and some massage. I have also done a few acupuncture treatments. I am taking a huge variety of vitamins, as well, to optimize healing. Now that I have the right brace off, we have done some leg conditioning and range of motion stuff.
As for conditioning, I have spent a lot of time on the arm bike, but my main source of activity has been getting around in a wheelchair and using my crutches and walker! I have an amazing support team at the Sport Centre here in Calgary, and we are developing a good plan for my recovery. I am going to start some weight training and core conditioning and continue with physio.

IG: What gymnastics, if any, are you allowed to do presently?

KS: I'm not cleared for any gymnastics as of right now. I am still very restricted. Also, I don't want to go into the gym just because I feel like I have to be there. That's pointless. I want to come in with a plan and feel like I'm accomplishing something. I think that I will be able to do some press handstands and specific conditioning within the next couple of weeks, so I will go in when I am more comfortable doing these types of things. I think it's important for me to feel a little more mobile before I head back into the gym.

IG: What have the doctors advised you, regarding your competitive status leading up to Beijing?
KS: We did the surgery with the intention of being in top form for the Olympics. I might not compete until the late spring, but I will be healthy. I want to compete in my third Olympic Games, have the opportunity to defend my Olympic title and contribute great performances to the team. My goals are still the same; it's just going to be a more interesting journey!

Kyle Shewfelt is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:
"Production Values," "Shewfelt's Role Both Familiar and Foreign" - features on Shewfelt's co-starring role in the film "White Palms" (November 2006) "My Year After Athens" - Shewfelt memoirs (August/September 2005) 2004 Olympic Games Special Issue - includes Shewfelt (October 2004) "The Style of Kyle" - profile (November 2003) Quick Chat: Kyle Shewfelt - interview (November 2002) "IG Profile: Kyle Shewfelt" (January 2001)
To subscribe to IG magazine or order back issues, click here.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to wish everyone in Canada a Happy Thanksgiving!

I am going to spend this evening with my mom's side of the family (although my parents won't be there because they are going to Vegas! Lucky ducks!). I'm gonna pig out on turkey, mashed potatoes and pie and then probably feel sick because I ate too much, but that's what this day is all about. Eating more than you should and being thankful for everything you have in your life.

I am thankful for all of the amazing opportunities and friendships I have experienced.

Pretty broad and lame I know, but I'm not feeling very creative or sentimental today.

Now that that's said, I think it's time to eat!

Gobble Gobble,