Jan 29, 2015
Sochi Connections

By R.J. Anderson

For the next couple of weeks, the world’s eyes will turn to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. For many, the focus will be on the athletic exploits of their country’s elite athletes as they gun for gold. But behind every great performance, there is someone working outside of the spotlight to keep the athletes safe and their bodies in prime condition to contend. Here, we look at three athletic trainers with ties to the U.S. bobsled and skeleton teams.
Ben Towne, MA, ATC, ATEP Clinical Coordinator & Faculty at the University of Southern Maine, will provide athletic training for athletes on the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton teams at the Sochi Olympics. He previously accompanied the team on its month-long World Cup Tour, which took him to Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.

“It has been an amazing experience and I’m humbled and honored to be chosen to work at the highest level of sport,” Towne wrote in an e-mail appearing on Southern Maine’s website. “We just spent two days in Munich for processing, where we received our Olympic apparel and flew into Sochi where we are currently training for bobsled and skeleton competition. I can’t wait for the start of the games!”

Also heading to Sochi to work with the U.S. Bobsled team is Byron Craighead, MA, ATC, who will be attending his third Winter Olympic Games. The 67-year-old Craighead retired from Santa Rosa Junior College in 2007 after 37 years as a professor of Kinesiology and the Head Athletic Trainer/Director of Sports Medicine Program. He has also worked as an athletic trainer on a professional rodeo circuit and for the Oakland Raiders.

In this profile, Craighead shares some interesting tales from his time as an athletic trainer, including stories from past Olympics.

Back in November, Rick Knizek, MS, ATC, an athletic trainer at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, N.Y., traveled to Russia to help U.S. bobsled and skeleton athletes prepare for the Sochi games. Knizek took a two-week leave from Shenedehowa to aid U.S. athletes as they tested out the new track at the Olympic Sliding Center near Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

Knizek spent most of his time keeping athletes in peak training condition. “Personally, I was very busy taking care of the athletes in between training runs,” he told WNYT.com. “There were athletes I would treat four or five times in a single day. A lot of stuff required manual therapy, soft tissue work, and joint mobilizations to keep everything loose and flexible.”

We at T&C wish all of these important contributors luck in the coming weeks.

R.J. Anderson is the Online Editor at Training & Conditioning.

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