Anna Holmlund is in the middle of tough training. But instead of beating skicross competitors, the goal is to regain use of her right leg and be able to walk again – and to be able to manage more by herself. SCA is proud to sponsor Anna on her journey.

​The sun shines on a beautiful fall day in Alnö, the island outside Sundsvall where Anna Holmlund's parents Lars and Margaretha live and where Anna enjoys staying. It has been almost two years since that fateful day in Italy when Anna crashed during training. Right then and there, her life took an entirely different direction.

She does not remember anything about the accident, the hosiptal, her parents' worry or the competitions and victories of her skiing career. But the gaps in her memory do not seem to affect her much. She enjoys watching recordings of her races, watches others compete and talks happily about Åre, a place that means a lot to her.

“Åre is lovely, one of my favorite places. It's cozy, good for skiing there, and parties," says Anna, smiling.

The media attention around Anna before, during, and after the accident has been rather intense. But that is fine, she says. She is happy to explain about daily life and what she does.

“It's okay," says Anna. “Okay when someone is interested."

“You've seen the TV program about yourself, that Björn Beckmo did for SVT," Lars points out.

“Many times," says Anna, holding up several fingers.

Anna's ability to speak was affected by the accident, which means that even though the words are there, they do not always want to come out as they should. But when the people around her have difficulty understanding, Anna's parents and assistants are there to help her.

SCA and the forest

Nature and forests have always meant a lot to Anna, from when she was a child hiking in the mountains to conquering skicross courses the world over as an adult.

“It's wonderful to be out in the forest, to enjoy all the trees," says Anna.

“And Skogis," she remembers, which is one of her favorite courses in Åre.

“A good course, twisting and turning with lots of jumps."

She is pleased to have SCA as a sponsor. Partially because the money is welcome as her insurance will soon expire, and partially because of the forest and what SCA stands for. And of course, SCA is a Sundsvall-based company and a major employer.

“SCA is good," says Anna. “They believe in me."

And Anna believes she can contribute to SCA's development with knowledge about how to succeed and how to become the best – with a stubborn streak and a fighting spirit that would be hard to find in most people.

Tough training

Anna's everyday life is full of training. She has a serious training program, seven days a week.
“Breakfast, training, lunch, training, dinner, training. Then I have a good night's sleep," as she describes it.

“There's a little rest, too, during the days, though you'd never rest if it were up to you," Zandra Fjelkeby-Berg, one of Anna's assistants, points out.

“You're also our own personal trainer. You're good at all kinds of training and you see right away if someone's cheating," continues Zandra, explaining that you have to like training to work with Anna, or learn to like it.

“I can train with SCA's management team," Anna offers with a smile.

At her ninth-floor apartment in one of the buildings alongside Norra Berget in Sundsvall, Anna doesn't just have a beautiful view to enjoy. She also has an at-home gym where she trains with the help of wall bars, a bicycle, gymnastic ball and weights.

More than anything else, Anna's right leg needs to improve, because even if she has made fantastic progress, her leg still has some way to go.

“I train my quads, glutes, hamstrings, oh everything," explains Anna, who can now leg press 200 kg with a single leg.

Cycled over 400 km

“You've always liked to train," says Lars. “Do you remember how you used to train skicross with the girls first, and then with the boys? And when we cycled in the High Coast in the summer, and I wanted to rest after a hill and you wondered, 'Why?'"

Anna smiles again.

The tandem bicycle is an important part of Anna's training and it is specially adapted for her needs. She received it in the spring, thanks to an initiative from one of her sponsors, and has already managed to cycle over 400 kilometers, including 20 kilometers in the Göteborgsgirot race.

“Cycling is good," she says.

Her apartment is also home to Bosse, Anna's custom-built apparatus for walking and standing training. Thanks to the protective frame, Anna has a little taste of freedom and she can get around on her own at home. In addition to her leg, her balance also needs to improve, as well as her right arm, which still does not work as it should.

Anna has cycled many tens of kilometers in her tandem cycle since she received it last spring. Her co-rider steers and shifts gears while Anna pedals as much as she can. Here she is training with her dad, Lars.

Can give more

Anna is happy with how far she has come in her rehabilitation, but she wants to become even better.

“Everyone can give more, including me. It'll happen, I won't give up," she says emphatically.

Anna's assistants are important for her daily life to work. She picked them out herself, and they are always available, 24 hours a day. So far she needs a lot of help, but even here the goal is clear.

“Yes, it's for us to lose our jobs," laughs Zandra.

“Yes," Anna says. “But you're good, everyone is good."

Time and engagement

Anna's life is not the only one that has taken a new turn. Life has changed for Lars and Margaretha as well.

“That's how it is," they say. “Now we're learning to know and love a different Anna, and of course we're investing a lot of time and commitment. Fortunately we're retired – otherwise it would have never worked."

“I've worked with social issues my whole life," says Lars, “and it's a shame to see that society doesn't work for the group Anna belongs to. We often get questions about how we can cope, but when we see Anna succeed and the joy in her eyes, then we can cope. Then it's clear that it's not all sunshine, there are ups and downs."

Anna also dreams of standing on skis again one day. So far, she has tried a biski, which consists of a chair mounted on two skis, with another skier behind who steers and brakes.

“To see her eyes light up like the sun when she came down for the first time, that was something else entirely," Lars remembers.

Involvement and consideration

Anna is surrounded by many friends who are important to her. They, as well as several of Anna's sponsors from her competitive days, have supported her in all kinds of ways.

“It's fantastic, the involvement and consideration everyone has shown. A lot of people really care," says Margaretha.

During the autumn, Anna moved from the hospital's day rehabilitation unit to habilitation, and she continues to work incredibly hard.

To train and demonstrate the strength in her left hand, Anna challenges those around her to a classic thumb war – and wins easily in just a few seconds. It is clear that she still has competitive instincts.

“I'm not giving up," says Anna. “I feel like my body is getting stronger and that I'm making progress."

Text: Misan Lindqvist

Photo: Michael Engman

More about Anna

AGE: 31 years

RESIDENCE: Apartment in Sundsvall.

FAMILY: Mom, dad, and siblings Kalle, Pelle and Lisa and their families.

DREAMS OF: Being able to walk on her own.

FAVORITE TREE: Birch, because of its attractive leaves.

MOST USED APP: SMS, can use it quickly with her left hand.

FOLLOW ANNA'S LIFE AT (Swedish page): www.assistansfordig.se/en-annan-anna/

Published 1/15/2019