For my final excursion as the HSS Sports Physical Therapy Resident, I had the pleasure of visiting the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY with my colleague Jessica Hettler. We were kindly provided with full access passes to the Olympic Training Center and all the museums and attractions in the area, of which we took complete advantage. The center in Lake Placid typically caters to a variety of sports including skiing, speed skating, curling, ice hockey, luge, biathlon, bobsled, figure skating, water polo, wrestling, boxing, kayak, canoe, judo, rowing, team handball, synchronized swimming, and taekwondo.
On our trip we were fortunate enough to enjoy a personal tour of Lake Placid by Karen, an athletic trainer and key member of the sports medicine team. We began our excursion at a bobsled tournament during which numerous teams competed in some of their final races before packing up and heading over to Sochi for the Olympic Winter Games, including our very own Team USA! Interestingly, Team USA’s 2-man bobsled was designed by BMW. Karen taught us about how every track is completely different in length and course and the weather conditions can significantly affect the speed of the race. As I watched numerous sleighs launch onto the track, I quickly learned that the takeoff is a very critical, very few seconds that can make or break your race. Thus, training for speed and timing with all members of the team is crucial. We then walked down towards the end of the track to get a feel for the speed the sled gains as it accelerates down the track. Bobsleds are tracked at going on average anywhere from 60-90 miles per hour (fun fact: the fastest speed ever recorded for a bobsled was 125 mph!). My advice: don’t blink!
Our next stop was the Olympic Jumping Complex. Here aerialists ski off 2-4 meter jumps that can propel them up to 30 meters in the air! Jessica and I took an elevator up to the top of the ski jumper’s platform for some beautiful sightseeing I must say, ski jumpers sure are brave to jump off those incredibly steep platforms!
We then wandered towards the main town where we saw the last outdoor Olympic Speed Skating Oval used during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid.
Nearby is the official Lake Placid Olympic Museum. Here you see first-hand a variety of opening ceremony outfits from numerous Olympic Games, Olympic medals, replicas of Olympic torches, various sleds as they have evolved over the years and much more! But the best part of all a miniature curling sheet! I’m not going to lie to you I don’t think curling is my calling, but it was definitely fun to give it a shot.
Lastly, we returned to the Olympic Training Center our first stop, the cafeteria (all that exploring made us hungry!). All athletes who dorm there are permitted access to the cafeteria stocked with plenty of food run by a talented kitchen staff this is not your high school’s cafeteria! All fueled up, we visited the athletic training room where we tested out some of their latest rehabilitation and recovery equipment. The athletic training room is divided into a main treatment area, a recovery room, and a hydrotherapy room. The athletes have access to all the equipment and knowledgeable staff they need to manage their day-to-day work-out recovery, injuries, and rehabilitation.
All-in-all, visiting Lake Placid was an invaluable and enjoyable experience. I am humbled and awed by the hard work and determination of all the athletes and staff members at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid. As we all watch and cheer for Team USA at the Olympic Winter Games, take some time to reflect on all the time, dedication, and labor that the athletes, coaches, sports medicine teams, and staff sacrifice to permit the athletes to perform at their very best during these games.
Special thanks to John Cavanaugh, Peter Toohey, Celeste Gabai and Karen Ocwieja for their kindness and arranging this memorable experience!
Hospital for Special Surgery is the first designated National Medical Center of the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) National Medical Network.
Andrea Papson is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Athletic Trainer, and certified strength and conditioning specialist with the James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center at Hospital for Special Surgery. She was the Sports Physical Therapy Clinical Resident from January 2013-January 2014.