Being a team physiotherapist is a unique and challenging job. I wanted to know a bit more about this side of our profession so I interviewed Laurie Block, team physiotherapist for the Canadian Snowboard Cross Team on her experience.
Sue: How did you get involved with the team?
Laurie: I started working with the Canadian Snowboardcross team last fall, after being connected through other team physios and through my work with the Canadian freestyle ski team for the previous 2 years.
Sue: What does the job involve?
Laurie: The job involves working with and treating the athletes locally and on the road. Most of the SBX team lives between Whistler and Vancouver so I am able to see them when they are training locally. They have several international training camps in the summer and fall and during the winter season they are competing on the World cup tour. So myself or one of the other physios accompanies the athletes for training and competitions.
Sue: What are some of the challenges of the position?
Laurie: Its challenging balancing travel and Squamish life. This year we are sharing the position between 3 physios to make it easier to create that balance.
Sue. What are some of the perks of the job?
Laurie: I get to support some of our country’s most dedicated and talented athletes. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity. I’m proud of our Canadian athletes, their dedication and focus is admirable. Another perk is that I get to travel around the world to ski resorts and towns that I would never otherwise have the opportunity to see. Team travel so far has taken me to Norway, Sweden, France, Spain, Argentina, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Utah, Oregon, California and more destinations every year.
Sue: How does it differ from working in a clinic?
Laurie: I tend to work long days on the road. I accompany the athletes on hill during training and competition in case there is an injury and to help the coaches. After the training sessions I treat the athletes that are injured. Some days last up to 12 hours, depending on whether its training or competition. Other days are completely filled with travel. Theres so much variation to the daily routine on the road, plus add in a new country, language and culture, there’s rarely a dull moment.
Sue: Describe some unique moments you’ve witnessed at events.
Laurie: X-games in Aspen is a pretty unique experience. The events are mind-boggling to watch, there’s live music and the made for TV production is quite impressive. The athletes love the experience and energy of this event, and so did I!
Sue: You’ve travelled a lot with the team, what have been some interesting cultural things you’ve observed while travelling with the team that people may not know about- from customs, foods, other athletes…
Laurie: Well, In Voss Norway eating a sheeps head is a special event. After the world cup event with freestyle, the entire tour was treated to a delicious meal of half a sheeps head, eyeball and tongue included. I can’t say I finished my plate but it sure was amazing watching the Norwegians pick it completely clean.
Sue: What does it take to be good at this job?
Laurie: Just be up for anything! You never know what to expect or where you’re going most of the time. That is half the adventure, and it rarely disappoints.