From injured to champion: Former Team Summit athlete Jay Riccomini wins Nor-Am Cup circuit title after late-season comeback
Riccomini hopes to continue to make sport more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community while competing on the world cup circuit
A year ago, former Team Summit althete Jay Riccomini was spending the vast majority of his time in the rehabilitation room instead of out on the slopes.
In February 2022, he was competing in a big air skiing competition in Calgary, Canada, when a crash left him with significant injuries.
“I had to have surgery,” Riccomini said. “I completely destroyed my meniscus, tore my ACL and had bone bruising. It was super intense for sure.”
Riccomini says it took him until the surgery to fully realize the significance of the injury and the work that would be required in order to get back to a competitive level of skiing again.
“When I was immobile — couldn’t really walk or move around — was when it kind of hit me,” Riccomini said. “I was like, ‘dang, I am in it hard for the next nine months of rehab.’”
Riccomini spent several hours a day rehabbing his knee in an attempt to get back to the level of skiing he was at before the injury occurred. Although rehab was hard, Riccomini says he found solace in the other injured athletes around him and the fact that there was plenty of time before the start of the 2022-23 ski season.
“There were a lot of us injured coming out of the Olympics,” Riccomini said. “I was rehabbing on pretty much the same schedule as quite a few people. We were able to help out each other and give each other motivation to get through the hard days. Having fun while we are doing rehab, that was one of my biggest motivations for sure.”
With the help of coaches, doctors, physical therapists and his own willpower, Riccomini rose from his season ending injury as a stronger skier than ever before.
“All said and done, I am a way stronger skier than I ever was,” Riccomini said. “It all works out in the end.”
Riccomini displayed this newfound strength at Copper Mountain Resort’s U.S. Revolution Tour, his first competition since the injury. The 19-year-old transgender skier — who identifies as male but is required to compete in women’s competitions — had an incredible first competition back on the slopes, placing first overall in the women’s slopestyle competition.
Riccomini wasn’t just ecstatic to win his first competition since his injury. He was also thrilled for what that finish meant in terms of the rest of the season.
“Copper Rev was kind of like the golden ticket for me,” Riccomini said. “I took first place in that, and it was like a huge Jay-you-still-got-it moment. At that time, I was still not doing a super difficult run, so I knew I still had more gas in the tank. It was a big push, and I wasn’t even a year out of surgery yet.”
For the remainder of the season, Riccomini became more and more comfortable in competitions and, as a result, went on a tear to close out the 2022-23 ski season.
Riccomini placed 11th in the Nor-Am Cup competition in Calgary, 10th in the Mammoth Mountain World Cup, first in the Aspen Snowmass Nor-Am Cup and won two first-place finishes at the Nor-Am Cup finale at Stoneham Mountain Resort in Canada.
Riccomini’s first-place finishes in slopestyle and big air at Stoneham Mountain Resort ultimately shot him ahead of Canada’s Naomi Urness for the Nor-Am Cup circuit individual title. After a long 12 months of battling back from injury, the honor meant a lot to Riccomini.
“Honestly it was crazy,” Riccomini said. “To be able to come out on top was a huge deal to me. I was super bummed I didn’t get (the Nor-Am Cup title) last year because I got hurt, so being able to come back from injury and be able to secure a World Cup spot was super exciting for me.”
Alongside being named Nor-Am Cup champion, Riccomini was also awarded the best trick award for both slopestyle and big air for the Stoneham Mountain Resort Nor-Am Cup.
As the Nor-Am Cup champion, Riccomini now receives an automatic invite to the World Cup circuit next season. The invite marks a turning point in Riccomini’s young skiing career and will pit him against some of the best freeskiers in the world.
“I am definitely excited to be competing against some more of the top athletes,” Riccomini said. “Having those big challenging courses, out of the country, is super exciting for me. I love going to Europe and eating all the yummy food and just having fun with people over there. I think it is going to be super fun.”
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