VHM-2014-2015-lores - page 23

tions are
intense for
such as
and skier
club’s disciplines (alpine
and Nordic racers, mogul,
free skiers and snowboard-
ers), strengthening athletes
and reducing injuries.
“What we ask these
athletes to do is very risky,”
says SSCV Human Perfor-
mance Director John Cole.
“We look at someone like
(SSCV Olympic skier) Aaron
Blunck who’s flying over
20 feet out of the halfpipe
— 40 feet from the apex
of his jump to the bottom
of the pipe — and we do
a very detailed analysis of
the movement patterns
and injury risk. We have
to take a hard look at how
we build programs for
these young athletes.”
As an example, about
seven years ago the club
focused new training on
female alpine racers — for
whom the most common
injury is ACL tears — on
hip and posterior leg
strengthening. This came
after a discovery that female
skiers were potentially
susceptible to knee injuries
when a postural valgus
stance (in which a part of
the leg is bent outward)
was found in functional
movement screening. This
specialized programming
reduced the rate of ACL
tears among full-time club
athletes by 20 percent.
“To be able to have on-site
care at the club is gigantic
for us,” Cole says. “If we have
an injury beyond treat-
ment relief, say a potential
ACL injury, we ask the
family who their preferred
medical provider is – Vail-
Summit Orthopaedics or
The Steadman Clinic – and
get those athletes in right
away. The clinic’s doctors
and ATCs understand the
time-sensitive nature and
how fast we need to get
these athletes assessed.”
Specialist Chris Cail of
Vail-Summit Orthopaedics
is actually on the hill with
SSCV. In the event of a sig-
nificant injury, he expedites
the athlete to the neces-
sary medical specialist.
“We tend to not miss
things this way. We have
someone physically there
and we get them in right
away,” says Dr. Rick Cun-
ningham of Vail-Summit Or-
thopaedics. “We make sure
[any injury] is addressed im-
mediately and that we treat
it and get them back on the
hill and competing again.”
Often times an athlete’s
injury doesn’t require
surgery, so instead of seeing
Dr. Cunningham or another
surgeon, the athlete goes for
detailed therapy at How-
ard Head Sports Medicine,
which not only treats
injuries for SSCV and the US
Ski and Snowboard Team
but provides state-of-the-
art preventative exercise
and conditioning programs
that mitigate the inher-
ent risk of the sport. They
strengthen athletes to avoid
injury in the first place.
“We endeavor to mini-
mize injuries and maximize
performance, teach proper
movement patterns at a
young age and perpetuate
the dream of becoming at
Olympic athlete,” says How-
ard Head physical therapist
Matt Mymern, who points
out that top-level skiing and
snowboarding requires fine-
tuning of the body’s overall
mobility, core stability,
mental acuity, lower extrem-
ity strength and shoulder
stability. Howard Head
conducts highly advanced
tests using the most current
research and technology
to ensure that an athlete is
100 percent in all of these
areas prior to competition.
Every SSCV athlete
is closely screened by a
rotation of medical and
physical therapy specialists
for any kinds of movement
dysfunction — knees fold-
ing inward during squats,
ankles coming off the floor
during lifts — and those
movements are corrected.
In the unfortunate case of
an injury, a customized plan
is made for each athlete that
takes them from diagnosis
to complete recovery as
quickly as possible. The
treatment team assesses
how much training time
the athlete needs before
returning to snow, the
strength and conditioning
work needed to restore safe,
normal movement and how
to maintain cardiovascular
fitness and strength without
overloading the injured
body part. This streamlined
process between the ski and
snowboard club, trainer,
orthopedist and therapist
is a unique privilege for
athletes in the Vail Valley.
“Nothing can halt a bud-
ding career in its tracks
quite like missing quality
development and train-
ing time due to injury,”
says Howard Head’s Luke
O’Brien, physical therapist
and vice president of How-
ard Head Sports Medicine.
“We tailor individualized
treatment plans that ad-
dress all of the athlete’s
performance needs and
not just their injury. We
have them returning to
snow fitter and stronger
than before the injury.”
What we
ask these
athletes to
do is very
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