A New Mountain | Arts & Entertainment | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

A New Mountain 

After surviving a brain injury, ex-skier Jamie Crane-Mauzy transitions to advocacy podcasting.

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click to enlarge Podcaster Jamie Crane-Mauzy - RACHELLE FERNANDEZ
  • Rachelle Fernandez
  • Podcaster Jamie Crane-Mauzy

Waking up before sunrise and venturing out into fresh powder to train in freezing temperatures might not sound like much fun. But a few years ago, that was just another day in the life of Jamie Crane-Mauzy, the first female skier to land a double backflip in a women's ski slope-style competition. That was before a traumatic brain injury (TBI) changed her life, and propelled her in a new direction.

Now retired from skiing, the 25-year-old college student has found a new passion: discovering another way to push herself to the limit in the form of a talk show. She interviews advocates like Army vet Josh Hansen of Continue Mission on her podcast Life Gets MoCrazy live from her Park City home. "I don't get super nervous [about doing the show]; I get really excited," Crane-Mauzy says in front of a laptop emblazoned with stickers, as she shuffles papers. "I've competed, and it's a similar type of feeling with my talk show."

The podcast is run by Brain Injury Radio on blogtalkradio.com, and originally was aimed at other survivors of TBI. Although the podcast is centered around TBI, Crane-Mauzy welcomes other stories of perseverance: stroke survivors, representatives from the National Ability Center and concussion-awareness advocates. "The goal is for it [the show] to seem like we are having a coffee together," Crane-Mauzy says as she explains her laid-back approach. "The 'cup of coffee' style brings out more interesting information."

Life wasn't always this bright for the podcast host; her positivity comes from a dark place. On April 11, 2015, during the World Tour Finals in Whistler, Canada, Crane-Mauzy pushed herself for that coveted spot on the podium. On the first jump, she landed incorrectly while attempting an off-axis double backflip. Her injury was so severe that she had to be airlifted from the ski resort. The air crew, certain she wouldn't make it to the hospital alive, started to fill out a "fatality report."

After eight days in a coma, Crane-Mauzy regained consciousness. But the blow to her head was so severe, it injured her brain stem leading to temporary paralysis on her right side. "There was one doctor when I was leaving Canada [back to IHC Murray for treatment] who said, 'She never will work independently, and she will never live independently.' And I always say this as a joke now," she continues. "'They said I'll never be normal, but the only thing they were right about was that I never had a 'normal' to get back to."

Armed with the love and support of her family, Crane-Mauzy gained strength little by little. Doctors, caregivers and Crane-Mauzy's mother knew the battle was uphill, as TBI survivors often experience severe depression. Research in the American Journal of Public Health affirms that those who sustain TBIs are at an increased risk for suicidal ideation. "If you hit your head, you get depressed," Crane-Mauzy says. "When I was recovering, one of the big things they would focus on is what to do if I became depressed. They would say, 'Find things that work.' So, if I become sad, I go turn on Netflix and watch Friends or Orange Is The New Black—just a show that makes me happy. I was taught how to deal with those bad days."

Meanwhile, the Life Gets MoCrazy podcast acts as the inspirational spark plug for Brain Injury Radio, and gives a voice to those who have taken a devastating event in their life and used it as a tool of empowerment. "I don't really want to interview someone just because they had a brain injury," Crane-Mauzy says. "I want to interview people who are doing exciting things in their life."

The podcast explores what it's like living with a TBI, what family members can expect, resources for caregivers and helmet advocacy. Crane-Mauzy was brought onto Brain Injury Radio when Donna O'Donnell Figurski asked her and her mother (who adamantly goes by "Fruit") to speak on last summer's show sbout TBIs and their effect on families.

Therapy has had an enormous role in Crane-Mauzy's recovery, but she views her show as much for others as for herself. "In a way, it might be therapeutic recovery, because everything that I do in life is therapeutic recovery," she says. "But in another way, it's like a gift to me that I can give ... to other people. I have wanted to do that my whole life, and now I have a platform."

Crane-Mauzy's new-found passion has led her to pursue a communication degree at Westminster College. It's hard to believe that in three years she went from world-class athlete to knocking on death's door to student, and to podcast host. While she once lived for the sound of fresh snow crunching under her ski boots, Jamie Crane-Mauzy has found a new mountain to conquer. "I'm connecting with people I never would have," she says. "It's beginning to open up different things."

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