Monday Medical: On the road with the US Ski Team
December 28, 2014
Living in Steamboat Springs, it's not uncommon to know a resident traveling the world with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team. Ski Town USA has the recognition of producing more winter Olympians than any other town in North America, but having world-class athletic skills are not the only way to become an essential part of the team.
Longtime Steamboat Springs physical therapy assistant and athletic trainer Frederica Manning finds herself in that situation once again this year, taking up the exciting opportunity to provide her services and skills to U.S. Nordic classic and skate skiing athletes.
Manning, who works at Yampa Valley Medical Center's SportsMed, traveled with the team in Europe for two weeks during the early part of December helping ensure athletes were at the top of their game.
Manning is in her 18th year with SportsMed and 11th traveling with a USSA team. She described the long days on the road as fast-paced and extremely busy. She saw about 12 to 15 patients per day since many athletes receive treatments every day, and that was in addition to her other tasks.
"On the road, I evaluate, assess and treat team members’ injuries, which can be both acute and chronic," Manning said. "Treatments with the athletes run all day and into the evening after dinner. There are also FIS (International Ski Federation) medical meetings in preparation of upcoming races, coaches meetings to discuss specific athletes’ injuries and provide status updates as well as team meetings."
Event days didn't bring much in terms of a break, with more treatments, evaluations and preparation.
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"On race days, I get to the venue to set up our treatment site. Throughout the race, I am working on athletes to keep them loose and their muscles flushed,” Manning said. "If there is an injury, I am evaluating and treating that injury along with a doctor to determine if the athlete will continue competition. After the race, it's back to treatments for the evening."
While Manning treated several injuries, back, shoulder and lower extremities injuries are what she most often sees. Overuse injuries also are extremely common because of the nature of Nordic skiing and because athletes are training for extended periods of time at such intense levels.
Manning mostly provides manual therapy to athletes including massage and joint mobilization.
Achy joints and sore muscles, however, are not the only challenges the team faces. Snow has been sparse in Davos, Switzerland, and conditions weren't better in La Clusaz, France, where one race was canceled and moved.
The logistical challenges add to the already hectic workload, but Manning takes all in stride.
“The scramble to determine where we are going next and when we will race again can sometimes take days," Manning said. "But it's always an adventure and exciting."
Although she's living out of a suitcase, there are many similarities between life on the road and life at SportsMed in Steamboat.
"In Steamboat, we have athletes and people that compete at a high level, as well. So often there are more similarities than there are differences. Everyone's goals may just be a little different,” she said.
Back in Steamboat, Manning has resumed her role at SportsMed but will not be a stranger to helping athletes in the field. She covers the summer Pro Rodeo Series, local running and biking events and the Steamboat soccer tournament, among others.
She also will see her fair share of local ski injuries as the season ramps up into high gear.
When asked for advice on how skiers and snowboarders can avoid having to make an appointment with a physical therapist this year as a result of an injury, Manning said, "Stretch, condition, stretch, warm up and stretch.”
Nick Esares is a marketing and communications specialist with Yampa Valley Medical Center.