Jesse Beck

It was only a split second – a fraction of a moment in time – but that's all it took to make something go terribly wrong for Jesse Beck, 52 of Burlington.

Beck was ski racing on a slalom course in New Hampshire in March 2009, when he blew out his knee coming around a turn.

It's a common ski racing injury and Beck was familiar with it; 20 years ago, he had blown out the other knee.

"I heard the pop and I knew I had completely blown my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). My thought was 'Oh my God, I've blown out my knee,'" Beck said. "...It was frustration and disappointment."

Beck, who races on the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association's New England Masters Circuit, knew how to treat his injury. He immediately packed it in ice and snow and rested it for a few days.

Then he went to see James Slauterbeck, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Fletcher Allen. A few years ago, Dr. Slauterbeck had operated on Beck's other knee, repairing a meniscus tear.

Beck was impressed with Dr. Slauterbeck's reputation for treating knee injuries. He appreciated the surgeon's research on ACL and his work with the Norwegian national ski team.

Dr. Slauterbeck repaired Beck's ACL, using the tendon of the kneecap to replace the damaged ligament.

"The surgery went extremely well," Beck said. The entire process – from check-in to pre-surgery to post-surgery – was smooth, he said. He was in at 7 a.m. and home by 3 p.m.

Today, Beck is well on his way to complete recovery and able to enjoy one of his summertime passions: long-distance cycling. He and his wife usually ride 100 miles a week; currently he's doing close to 75.

This winter, he plans to get back on the mountain and back to that slalom course.

But in the meantime, he's grateful for the expertise of the highly trained specialists at Fletcher Allen, available whenever he needs them. "It makes me feel safe and secure about my health," he said.

sports knee injury fahc