Lori Testa – Summit County’s three-sport athlete | SummitDaily.com

Lori Testa – Summit County’s three-sport athlete

Wednesday was a trying day for Lori Testa. The Breckenridge resident had just seen a doctor and was awaiting word on the severity of a recent knee injury.

A lot was riding on this diagnosis. The least of it was this summer’s softball season. The most of it was her Tae Kwan Do comeback, which had begun over the winter after a lengthy recovery from a serious injury to her other knee.

In her 17 years in Summit County, Testa’s athletic career has been a roller coaster ride, careening from world-class highs to the lows that only four knee surgeries can bring.

But at 35, she’s still a three-sport star, working to regain the fighting form that brought her to the Olympic trials of Tae Kwan Do in 1999 while at the same time competing as one of the best female skiers in Colorado and coaching and playing softball.

“That’s my thing; that’s my drive,” Testa said of sports and competing. “I just love the process, and I love the competition, and I like, when it’s over, thinking back on all the sacrifices you made. I always come away with something, win, lose or draw.”

In her first four years in the county, Testa went from struggling down her first mogul run at Keystone (mostly on her butt) to the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. She credits her astounding rise to hooking on and following some experienced local mogul skiers in her early Summit County years. What also helped was Testa’s natural athleticism and positive attitude.

“No one told me I couldn’t, so I went out and did it,” she said.

Her ski team stint lasted three years in the early 1990s, ending short of her Olympic aspirations partly because of funding difficulties. The other reason was Testa’s increasing focus on Tae Kwan Do, which she had taken up as cross-training for skiing.

She got her black belt and began considering the Olympics again, this time as a martial artist (Tae Kwan Do was accepted at the Games for the first time in 2000). After following the Olympic-bound track as a skier, Testa knew what to expect.

“Everything is the same,” she said. “The whole process is the same. I knew how I had to go about it that second time.”

Testa reached the 1999 Olympic trials in Colorado Springs only to suffer a horrific left knee injury in her first match. She had four surgeries and was out of action for three years, never really knowing what could have been.

But it wasn’t so much the lingering questions that pulled Testa back into Tae Kwan Do competition this winter. She just missed the sport.

“This time around I’m very open-minded about it,” she said. “I just missed fighting. Having a different focus was fresher, and I was really fighting really well. It felt good to be back.”

Still, the unfinished business of the Olympics called.

“I just started the process again, trying to qualify for the Pan Am Games and Olympics, and that’s when I did this,” she said pointing to her right knee.

The severity of the injury, which occurred last month at the Pan Am Games trials, is pending. She knows it’s not as bad as her left knee injury, and she’s hopeful about returning to Tae Kwan Do. At the very least, she hopes, it won’t affect her summer softball season.

Softball – the third sport in Testa’s life – is an extension of her first love, baseball. Not only is she a stalwart in the local recreational leagues, she’s also an assistant coach for the Summit High School softball team.

Meanwhile, Testa has continued competing in skiing, now in the extreme realm. She finished fifth overall at last year’s U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships at Crested Butte.

But even after she outgrows competitive skiing and Tae Kwan Do, Testa always will have a hand in athletics, no matter what her balky knees have to say about it.

“It will be a lot more coaching and a lot less competing, definitely,” Testa said about the future. “But I still want to be involved. I’ll be one of those old guys with two knee braces still playing softball.”

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