Lee Anne Patterson
Date of Surgery: 3/1/2017
Update (6/2018): Lee Anne returned to ski guiding full time on December 1, 2017.
I fell in love with skiing when I was 4 years old, out with my parents on cross country skis in the forests of Quebec. I quickly became fascinated by the adrenaline of alpine skiing. I have had the great fortune in life to be able to make a career out of skiing and follow that passion through ski racing, instructing, coaching, pro athlete and guiding. I now live in the small mountain town of Pemberton, BC and spend my time heli ski guiding for Whistler Heli Skiing and Bella Coola Heli Sports.
At 21 I passed my Level 4 Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance, (CSIA) certification. I worked teaching skiing and coaching ski racing in Quebec for several years before moving west to Whistler in 1991. I became a course conductor for the CSIA after arriving in Whistler and I was also the training director for the Whistler Mountain Ski School. In the summers I was coaching for the Dave Murray Summer Ski camps and actually coached Kees for a few years. He was a special, energetic, kind and talented teen and we would often stay after the gate training in the mornings to hike and ski the Blackcomb glacier. In 1995 I was selected to be part of the Demonstration team for the CSIA and participate in Interski in Japan. The mountainous terrain of BC and Whistler was also the beginning of me becoming fascinated with backcountry skiing and the concept of becoming a ski guide. I had the luck of timing that big mountain free skiing was becoming more popular, and with my experience from racing and ski demonstration and my growing backcountry skills I was well poised to enter the big mountain free skiing competition scene. With a lot of commitment and hard work I made it to many podium finishes in the International Free Skiing Association (IFSA) World tour events and secured enough sponsorship to train fulltime in the mountains and achieve mountaineering descents all over the World. During this time as a full time athlete I began taking my Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) certification and also Canadian Ski Guide Association (CSGA) courses to become a ski guide. By 2003, I had completed my level 1 CSGA and level 1 CAA and had a lot of success with being one of the first few women to have regular photo exposure in ski magazines. I connected with Mike Weigele and was hired as a tail guide. This was the turning point for me where I understood that my experience and accomplishments in skiing was going to be a great mix to be a ski guide. I worked my way through the CAA courses and CSGA courses while working for MWHS, becoming a Professional member of The CAA and fully certified Lead Guide in 2008. Since then, I’ve continued to work as a lead guide all over BC and in the last few years have been primarily guiding based out of my hometown of Pemberton, BC. Looking forward, I hope to continue to work as a heli ski guide for many more years. I also want to continue to be a mentor and help train the next generation of ski guides working with their ski skill development. I was very fortunate in my progression through my career to meet inspirational people along the way and I want to be able to be that person for the next generation of young skiers, and in particular girls who are contemplating a career in ski guiding. When I am working as a guide I do my best to foster and encourage that passion in my clients, and also encourage everyone to appreciate the moment, try their best, and be open to appreciate whatever the day may bring, whether it be fresh powder and blue bird skies or something more challenging. I believe that the best days are had when the clients and guide are communicating, sharing their love of skiing and desire for adventure, and working as a team with a shared sense of respect for the conditions, the risks and for each other.
Treatment Procedure and Recovery Plan
On March 1st, 2017 I had my right shoulder repaired at The Steadman Clinic with Dr. Millett in Vail, Colorado. I had arthroscopic supraspinatus double row, speed bridge rotator cuff repair, open sub pectoral bicep tenodesis, arthroscopic sub-acromial decompression and acromioplasty, arthroscopic capsular release, arthroscopic with extensive glenoid debridement and PRP harvested injection. After surgery I stayed for two weeks receiving twice daily physical therapy at the Howard Head Sports Medicine Clinic, under the watchful eye of Dr. Millett. After two weeks I returned to Pemberton and worked with my local physios/trainers every day guided by the prescriptive shoulder rehabilitation program that was laid out for me by the Howard Head Sports Medicine Clinic. At three months post op, I had a check up with Dr. Millett and his physio team and based on my recovery progress I was given the green light to carefully begin to return to normal everyday activities including rock climbing, golfing and mountain biking. By six months, I would say I was about 95% rehabilitated and was able to return to high level activity and I returned to my summer work of trail building.
"Without the support of the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation I don't know that I would be returning to my ski guiding career. My story begins with a traumatic mountain bike crash, October 22, 2016 that destroyed my right shoulder. I was treated in the emergency department for a dislocated shoulder but referred to a surgeon immediately. After my first consultation with an orthopedic surgeon, they suggested I do 6 weeks of rehab but didn't request an MRI. I feel silly now that I didn't force the issue but I wanted to believe in the experts and so I worked diligently at my rehab with no real relief. After 6 weeks I finally managed to have an MRI which showed that I had a complete tear of the supraspinatus as well as a bicep tendon issue. With this information the surgeon was still unwilling to operate on me until I had full range of movement, however this was impossible for me to achieve because of the extent of damage from the accident. From my own research I learned that the longer I waited for surgery the less chance I had for a successful surgical outcome. By this point it was the end of January and I was totally depressed, I was unable to work, was having difficulty with sleeping because of pain and was not able to function in normal daily life activities. That's when a friend who had gone through a similar situation suggested I try the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation. From that moment forward everything about my experience was 180 degrees. The process moved so quickly and it was like a dream come true. Having been a pro skier, I knew of The Steadman Clinic by its amazing reputation and at that point I knew everything was going to be ok. I picked Dr. Peter J. Millett, he is famous for his expertise with shoulders and is also just a really nice guy! It is 8 months post op for me now and I am 100%. I'm rock climbing and mountain biking as good as before the accident and ready to return to ski guiding. Without the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation none of this would be possible, I am forever grateful."
- Lee Anne Patterson