Michael Karavasili - Skiing knee injury

Michael Karavasili - Skiing injury to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL)

"Professor McNicholas was a true professional and knew exactly what procedure I needed"

Prior to my injury I used to be very active I was a championship cyclist in my teens. In 1975 I was the National Sprint champion at the British track Championships, followed up with a third in the pursuit. I was also a National Road champion with regional championship titles added to my awards list. The end of that year saw me take part in the British Cycling National Cyclo-cross Championships as hot favourite, however a trampoline accident three days before the event meant that I raced with my arm in a plaster cast, custom shaped to hold the bars, sadly the vibration of the fast downhill section became too painful to hold on and I had to settle for 30th out of 100.

Following the championship wins I was in what we would now call Team GB development squad. However sports psychology and performance curves were probably not as well understood as they are today and together with pressures for a junior sportsperson to perform at higher level events with good results led to a burn out.

I turned to my engineering studies at college and by the age of 21 I was disheartened with the motor trade and a new challenge presented itself through my through my father, who was an enthusiastic skier and encouraged me to take my BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) training.  After completing the course a temporary job with Schools Abroad, a school travel company, became available in Les Arcs and this two week position turned in to the whole season. At the end of the season I went to Scotland and passed my BASI 3 (British Association of Ski Instructors) (entry level BASI at the time) and this enabled me to do another season with Schools Abroad and complete my BASI 2. By this stage I had proved myself worthy and reliable by Schools Abroad and in 1984 I was made head Instructor of Les Arcs with nine ski instructors under my direction.

During that time as a head instructor I qualified for my grade 1 BASI – The top qualification and I was invited by BASI to become a trainer (Ski instructor for instructors). I spent the next three years race training to get the speed to pass the French Equivalence which led me to become a ski instructor for the ESF French Ski School.

Family circumstances forced me to take a decision to withdraw from professional ski instructing from ski season 2006 – 2008. By way of compensating   for this I wanted to get involved with instructor training at the Chill Factor, this was brought to an abrupt halt within three hours of starting as I left the ski centre on a stretcher with a broken knee!

I was taken to the local A & E hospital where I was declared well and fit. It soon became apparent that this wasn’t the case when I turned on my knee and it felt like it opened up and I fell to the ground.

I knew something was seriously wrong so I went to see my GP who referred me to Professor Mike McNicholas, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Spire Cheshire Hospital. My initial appointment was the next day and I also had an MRI scan which showed a ruptured ACL and a shredded medial collateral.

The operation was booked and I resigned myself to the thought that I was never going to return to sport and I started looking in to other possible careers. I wasn’t in a rush to get back to sport as I was keen to get myself back together again.

After the operation I had to follow the rehabilitation programme that Mr McNicholas had recommended , which required full mobility from the time I woke up after the operation also in hindsight I would stress how important it is to follow this.

My knee is now fully recovered I am now back cycle racing after a 30 year layoff and I now have returned to skiing. To my delight I found that I could ski again!! The following year after my operation I became a part time ski instructor and within two years I was back to being a full time ski instructor.

In my eyes Mr McNicholas is brilliant, he saved my knee. He has allowed me to go back to a fully active sporting life, to which I had become accustomed to.

He is a true professional and knew exactly what procedure I needed. Spire Cheshire Hospital was brilliant and the physiotherapy team worked closely with me to aid my recovery.

Professor Mike McNicholas, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon said “Michael Karavasili is an expert skier, instructor in France who despite years of experience suffered a severe skiing injury to his ACL and MCL. He had surgery for the injuries 8 years ago and it is reassuring to see how well he continues to do, returning to his occupation as a ski instructor within a year of the injury and still going strong 8 years on”

If you have come back from the ski slopes and have suffered a sporting injury book a consultation with Professor Mike McNicholas at Spire Cheshire Hospital on 01925 215 087.

About Mr Mike McNicholas:

Mike McNicholas is a member of the steering committee for the UK NLR a surgeon lead data collection group who are aiming to improve the treatment of this previously devastating knee injury for patients in the UK.

It is rapidly growing with data from over 5000 patients who have had acl reconstructive surgery collected so far. The first report showed that skiing is the third commonest cause of ACL injury behind football and rugby.

There are guidelines to help prevent injury during skiing but despite these some people will be unlucky enough to have their knee ligaments injured.

As Michaels’ s story illustrates it does not mean the end of your skiing career. A relatively small operation and a lot of work in rehabilitation should enable you to return to the slops the next season.

Find a treatment, test or scan available at:


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