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Life and Times of a Physio with the USA Ski Team

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Christchurch and Sportsmed are currently my home. After 16th of July home for the remainder of the year is on the road travelling with my physio table, my skis, and hopefully the skill set to keep the team of professional ski racers racing to their best ability. These boys are world cup level skiers in the top 30 in the world, skiing at speeds up to 150km/h they keep their physio on her toes!

So want to know what my role is in a day of training with the US ski team? Here’s a snapshot of a normal day for their kiwi physio:

5am: wake up put on the same clothes I have worn for the last 10 days (thank goodness for stink free merino), smile and hope that today is not the day someone crashes while skiing over 100km an hour.

5.30am: Eat breakfast, drink coffee, check in with each athlete, strap up those who need it. Tuck in my woolly singlet, put on a warm hat.

7am: put on a head light, carry a bundle of race gates into a gondola also juggling 15kg back pack, a bag full of training snacks and my skis. The aim is to not look like a dick.

7.30 am: set up timing on the training course, slip, ski or shovel as much snow off the icy blue slope so it is slick, hard and fast. That’s right the icier the better.

8am: Welcome the athletes to the mountain with some sort of uplifting comment about how big their muscles look and make sure they warm up their big muscles appropriately.

9am: Start training- make sure everyone eats enough, drinks enough (difficult at below zero temperatures), and stays injury free during training. Ski fast down the hill should any athlete crash, patch up split chins, sliced legs, sore backs, swollen knees, be the bearer of bad news when the young kid has a faster time than the elite guys.

1pm: Make sure each athlete has an adequate recovery snack and warm down, juggle bundles of gates, skis and backpacks back to the van, kick off my ski boots with a sign of relief, warm up my toes on the way back to accommodation.

2pm: Start physio sessions on each athlete, managing injuries that they are training and racing through, assessing new injuries, identifying weaknesses and attending any niggles to ensure they don’t progress into pain. Set them up with an off snow recovery session.  Pool sessions with the Italian women’s team always seem to be a highlight.

9pm: Liaise with the coaching staff on any updates regarding injury status of each athlete, grab a bite to eat and start writing up reports to send back to the medical team based in Utah, United States.

9.30pm: The US anti-doping agency (USADA) turn up- these guys can turn up anytime, anyplace. Drug testing is frequent and the physio gets the lucky job of watching the tester watch the athlete pee into a cup, and yes stage fright is common.

People think I have a great role with the team, they are right. I get to work with motivated athletes and like-minded coaching staff who all want the best for the athletes we are involved with. We are aiming for a “no stones unturned” approach to ensure the best success and performance. My role is to ensure the physio stone is flipped up!

My advice for you getting out on the slopes this season, get some strength, endurance and balance on your bike, work on building up some preseason squats and make sure you are adequately fuelling and refuelling through the day when you are on the slopes. A day skiing can deplete our energy stores by 50%, regular food and drink during the day is very important. Most injuries occur on the slopes when we get tired and often the last run of the day, funny that!!

All the best, I’ll see you out there.  If you are unlucky and get injured there is always a Motus clinic nearby.  

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