Rowmark Accident Victims Make
Remarkable Progress BY ERIC WILLIAMS
Hank Shipman clicks back into his ski boots on SkiStudio’s iSkiBed to work on his muscle memory.
It’s been five months since last April’s head-on car accident
near Mount Hood that involved several athletes and a coach from
the Rowmark Ski Academy who were competing in Oregon. Racer
Hank Shipman and coach Scotty Veenis sustained the most serious injuries and immediately began their long road to recovery via
multiple surgeries and intense physical therapy.
With a tremendous outpouring of support from the skiing community, both Shipman and Veenis have made strides toward recovery
in the past five months.
“His healing has been remarkable — people are calling it miracu-
lous,” says Shipman’s mother, Julie, of her son’s continued recov-
ery from a traumatic brain injury, several neck breaks, spinal cord
damage, a broken scapula and a compound femur fracture. “We
are so lucky he is alive and that he is walking after he was told he
may never walk
or ski again and
he is basically
doing both of
those things al-
three months in
py three days a week, working to regain strength and control of
his left arm and leg. He has returned to his studies as a junior at
Rowland Hall with a big course load, including three AP classes.
Shipman also volunteers weekly at the children’s Neuro Trama
Unit where he was a patient only a few months ago and plans on
traveling with his team as a photographer this season.
Encouragement for Shipman has come from the very top of the
ski racing ranks as the Utah teen has struck up a friendship with
longtime hero and someone who knows what it’s like to fight back
after serious injury — top Norwegian racer Aksel Lund Svindal.
Scotty Veenis gets a
visit from Ted Ligety
while in the hospital.
The two regularly chat online and Svindal has even posted several
blog updates on Shipman’s progress.
Shipman is scheduled to have a supporting rod in his leg removed
in April 2012 and then plans to work toward joining his team at a
racing camp in June.
“He is a very determined young man and I think that’s why he’s
healed so well,” says Julie of her son. “All of the doctors credit a
lot of his progress to his ski racing training. Being a tough-ass ski
racer was a big deal for both of these guys.”
Veenis’ first hurdle was recuperating from the serious damage to
his lungs and ribs, after which he underwent five surgeries to his
left leg, acquiring a rod in his femur and two plates and some 15
screws just below his knee. After three weeks in the hospital and five
weeks in a transitional rehab facility, Veenis was home and cleared
to start walking
around July 4. By
mid-August he was
able to start mountain biking.
“The last six
weeks I’ve seen
big time progress,”
says Veenis, who
reports that he
feels about 75 percent healthy, and plans to return to coaching after this season.
“Once you get into a normal routine out riding and swimming, out
of the hospital setting, it’s amazing how much and how quickly you
can get back. I have a little bit of a swagger to my walk, but it will
get better with time for sure.”
Shipman and Veenis meet for lunch every few weeks and continue to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. “The kid’s a warrior,
to go through something like that, especially at 16 —” says Veenis.
“Ski racing is a passion so it’s a big-time mind game and pretty
motivating to see how far he’s come.”
Hank Shipman and Scotty Veenis arm wrestle after returning to Utah.