All eyes are on Pyeongchang, South Korea, as athletes from all around the world gather to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Providing treatment to United States athletes dressed in red, white and blue are a number of medical workers from University of Utah Health.
This year’s team is the largest in Winter Olympic history with 244 athletes, 16 of which are from Utah, and a slew of U of U Health workers are among those responsible for taking care of them.
Behind every athlete is a team of trainers, nutritionists, sports medicine physicians and emergency medical doctors pushing them toward success. Among them are U of U Health’s Lyndsay Young and Christopher Gee.
Gee, who is a team physician for the U.S. speedskating team and member of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s National Medical Network, said his days are mostly spent with the team.
“I have to be present whenever the teams are on the ice practicing or competing,” Gee said. “I’m there to help assist in case of any accident or injury. I also spend time off the ice dealing with medical issues that arise with the team during day to day activities.”
Gee has worked at the U for about 10 years as an emergency medicine physician and sports medicine physician. He said his experience both working with athletes and in the emergency room at the U has helped him prepare for “any injury or accident that might occur.”
“[The U’s] sports medicine group was able to provide me with supplies and equipment to use and the experience to be effective in my role here,” Gee said.
When the stakes are high and anxiety runs amok for athletes and fans alike, Gee and the rest of the sports medicine team are on the ice or the slopes ready to provide treatment and care for all situations. Care providers are a vital component for any athlete pursuing Olympic dreams.
Young, who graduated with a doctorate in physical therapy and as a certified athletic trainer from the U in 2014, is an example of U of U Health’s widespread impact on U.S. athletes’ strides toward success. Young is a physical therapist and trainer for the U.S. ski team’s Mikaela Shiffrin.
Young and U of U Health’s team have been training for Pyeongchang with Shiffrin since early 2017. As the Olympic qualification neared, the U Health team posted updates on Shiffrin’s progress in each race around the world.
The U.S. Olympic Committee added the U to its National Medical Network in 2016.
Also at the Olympics are 14 current and former athletes who have ties to the U and are competing, and one who’s even coaching, on behalf of countries around the world.
As the world’s eyes are glued on athletes, however, Gee said there are more people behind the scenes who are not dressed in spandex.
“U of U Health is an integral part of the sports medicine team here at Pyeongchang,” Gee said. “Not only can we provide health care locally, but we have a vital role with the U.S. Olympic Committee and the athletes they serve, both in these games and going forward.”