John F. Russell: Reiter story is a page turner |

John F. Russell: Reiter story is a page turner

— Sometimes life is like a book.

It can be filled with unexpected plot twists, a revolving cast of characters and the kind of details that keep us interested enough to flip to the next page.

For the past three months, Steamboat Springs snowboarder Justin Reiter has flipped through plenty of pages and, in the process, written a chapter in his career that should keep us all sitting on the edge of our seat.

“I’ve read 10 or 12 books in the past few months,” Reiter said. “But I’m not what you would call a reader.”

No, Justin is a snowboarder and a good one at that.

But after electing to undergo knee surgery early last winter, the 28-year-old Olympic hopeful has been forced to find new ways to fill all the time he used to spend training and competing on snow.

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Shortly after undergoing surgery to reconstruct his patella tendon, which connects the quadriceps thigh muscle to the tibia below the knee, Reiter found himself with a lot of extra time. For eight weeks after the surgery, he was hooked to a continuous passive motion, or CPM, machine for eight to nine hours a day.

“I think I rented every movie at Blockbuster,” Reiter said.

But he soon discovered that there is more to life than sitting in front of the television and watching movies. Eventually, he turned to books to escape the boredom, and began thinking about how he will find the words and experiences that will define this chapter of his life.

Just a few months ago, Reiter was hoping his life story would describe a journey to his ultimate goal – the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C. Some might view this injury as a setback, but Reiter thinks he will come away from the experience with the traits he needs to be successful next season and return to the top of his sport. He says he already is fueled by a new passion, and if things go as planned, he expects to return stronger, faster and more mentally prepared for the tests that will confront him the next few months.

He now understands that making it back is about a lot more than gold, silver and bronze.

“I love this lifestyle,” Reiter said. “It’s about the experience; it’s about the friends I’ve made here, and around the world. I want to get back to that place, and I want to keep snowboarding.”

Justin’s story is already full of interesting plot lines, and as the 2010 games approach, I can only imagine that those plots will thicken. Nobody is sure where Justin’s story will end, but you can bet that I’m going to flip to the next page.