Few teenagers have the mental and physical fortitude to comeback from a potentially career-ending injury – but Derbyshire’s Ella Taylor-Tipton is not your normal teen.
The 14-year-old freestyle skier, who lives in West Hallam, ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament while competing at the UK’s premier dry slop ski and snowboard event in Glasgow in June.
It meant the Kirk Hallam Community Academy pupil was forced to put her trip to Oregon in America for a week-long scholarship on hold as she was forced to undergo surgery instead.
But rather than wallow in self-pity, Taylor-Tipton had the operation - which meant having part of her hamstring taken from both legs to reconstruct her ACL - and has now returned to the gym to build up her strength ahead of a proposed comeback next year.
And with the hours of sitting with her legs up watching her favourite show on Netflix now firmly behind her, Taylor-Tipton admits she can’t wait to get back on her skis in the new year.
“I had my surgery and I’m 13 weeks post-op and everything is going really good. My surgery was in August and I’m back in the gym,” said Taylor-Tipton, whose brother Justin is also a freestyle skier.
“I’ve got physio sessions that I have to go to at the hospital and I’m building up my strength in the gym with weights, after being on crutches for a few weeks.
“My quads feel like they are getting a lot stronger now. When my brother is skiing I normally go and watch and support everyone – but I do miss being on my skis, though.
“I’m hoping to be back on them about March, April time. I’ll be seeing my consultant in February and if I’m strong enough he’ll give me the okay to get back into sport.
“I just want to be back in time for July as I have my scholarship for Windells Ski Camp in Mount Hood, Oregon - that’s my main goal to be heading out to America.
“There is one main competition in April, but I’m don’t want to go back into skiing competitions too early as I want to save myself up for the Windells camp in the summer.
“It was very difficult to start with and it took me a while to get my quads back working, but it’s getting easier and easier every day and I’m sure I’ll be stronger in the long run.
“I’m on the bike, doing weights and the leg press in the gym - I’ve also been allowed on the rowing machine again. I have also been allowed to do some PE lessons at school.
“After I had my surgery, I was just sitting with my legs up trying to get them as straight as I could and watching TV and, in particular, Riverdale on Netflix, which helped get me through it.”
Taylor-Tipton’s cause is also being helped by The Nottingham Building Society, who are teaming up with charity SportsAid to support 50 local athletes as they try to find their ‘time to shine’, with each receiving £750 of funding.
Having already donated £240,000 to SportsAid to help athletes buy equipment, travel to events and receive the training they need to be the best they can, The Nottingham Building Society are now also helping athletes on the path to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and beyond.
Taylor-Tipton was one of 15 SportsAid-supported stars to attend a fun-filled Christmas celebration at The Nottingham’s city HQ, helping celebrate and bring the ongoing partnership to life.
Four top ice hockey aces from The Nottingham Panthers were in attendance to offer their advice to the upcoming athletes, while among activities was a Kit Challenge and Wheel of Fortune with prizes.
Taylor-Tipton was enthused by the chance to share knowledge with like-minded teenagers and particularly enjoyed meeting the Panthers stars.
“It was a really fun evening,” she said.
“There were quite a few familiar faces from previous events but it was nice to get to know new people, from different sports, who all had something contribute.
“I was cool getting to meet the Panthers players and there’s lots of learning I can take away into next year.”
Nottingham Building Society and Harrison Murray teamed up with SportsAid in 2013 to help future sports stars get their time to shine. Visit thenottingham.com to find out more.