SALT LAKE CITY: SUN, FUN AND OLYMPIANS!
by Dr. Brian S. Seaman, DC, FCCSS(C), FICC
The phone call came in June last year
right after our AGM at Digby Pines. Once again
I was honoured to have the opportunity of representing
not only chiropractic internationally, but Canada as
well. The first order of business was to respond to
the question from Cindy Hughes (our chief therapist)
--- was I available? OK, that took 3 seconds!
Next was setting aside time from clinic
for the 4 days of the Olympic Team orientation which
was scheduled for Calgary in September 2001; it turned
out to be less than 2 weeks after "9-11"!
The Orientation itself is a great experience and the
team which went to SLC was fantastic. The Calgary meeting
was some what of a family reunion. Many of the Canadian
Olympic Association (COA) people I knew from the Pan
Am Games in Winnipeg (1999), were there as well. There
were 5 of us from the Medical Team who were teammates
in Winnipeg. The other chiropractor for SLC was Dr.
Greg Uchacz. Greg is the team doctor for the Canadian
Skeleton and Bobsleigh Team.
Our SLC Medical Team (or "Health
Care Team" as it is now officially called) consisted
of 9 physicians (including 2 orthopedic surgeons), 12
therapists (ATs and PTs), 3 massage therapists, and
2 chiropractors (Greg and I). The Medical Team provided
all the health care needs for the 157 athletes as well
as the mission staff.
Orientation focuses on getting to know
your fellow team members, team building and scenario
preparation. The latter deals with a variety of issues
which we could encounter while at the Winter Olympics,
including security measures. We were all issued beepers
at SLC for emergency purposes as well as being provided
with Blackberries for wireless e-mail by the Canadian
government (in the event that communications ever broke
down due to terrorist activity).
Next Stop, SLC
February 3rd Woke up at 3 a.m.
and off to the airport by 4 a.m. Flew to Toronto, then
Denver and finally SLC. As per usual, the US customs
officer in Toronto was less than pleasant. However once
I was in SLC, I was accredited. My accreditation had
an "Infinity" designation which allowed me
access to all of the venues as well as the Athletes
Village where we stayed. When I arrived in Athletes
Village (and finally made it through all the security
check points) I had a brief orientation and tour around
Athletes Village with my roommate Dave Slover,
who is a PT from Hamilton, Ontario. It was a long day;
almost 24 hours.
I was very fortunate to be assigned to
the "advance team" which is a group of the
medical team which arrives early to assist with the
set-up. In addition to myself, there was Cindy Hughes,
Bob Foxford (CMO), Antoine Atallah (clinic manager),
four therapists including Dave Slover and a massage
February 4th Woke up at 6 a.m.
but that was Halifax time! I tried to get back
to sleep and finally got up at 6 a.m. SLC time. The
three hour time change created havoc for the first few
There were 2 eating areas, one in an
existing dining hall, and the other in a huge tent which
could probably cover a hockey rink. Included in the
tent was a full scale McDonalds much to he delight
of my daughter CJ who is 9 years old. When I told her
there was a McDonalds in the Athletes Village
she was completely impressed - "Thats so
cool, Daddy!" She was even more impressed when
she found out that it was free!
In the Athletes Village there was
an International Zone which had a coffee house (and
they could make every type of coffee imaginable), a
store, a post office, bank and even a Cyber Café
which had been set up by ATT. Each member of the team
was assigned an e-mail address, so that you could have
access to e-mail. The cyber café even had video
e-mail so that you could send messages home. The buildings
were the old officers quarters of Fort Douglas.
February 5th I was assigned to
Park City for a few days. It was about 45 minutes from
SLC and our base for the skiing and sleding eventsOur
first order of business was to set up the medical clinic
in a house which was rented by the COA for the month
of February. It was a beautiful location and the house
provided excellent accommodations. There were 4 bedrooms,
and everywhere you looked there were mountains. My house
mates were two PTs; Wendy Epp (with free style
skiing) and Russ Horball (assigned to biathlon and cross
country skiing). Marty Deacon ("PC Mama")
was in charge of the Park City house. We also had Dr.
Jack Oliver with us, who is an orthopedic surgeon from
February 6th Last night most of
the Canadian Team arrived in SLC along with my colleague
Greg. The athletes are gradually being assigned either
to Athletes Village, or the various sites in the
Park City area.
February 7th I had the pleasure
of not only seeing the Olympic flame run by, but got
an opportunity to hold it. The gentleman who had been
running with the flame, was Mr. Dick Marriott (yes,
of Marriott Hotels). Dressed in my Team Canada Roots
gear, Mr. Marriott asked what part of Canada I was from.
When I replied Nova Scotia, he immediately responded
that he had loved the "Lighthouse Route".
It truly is a small world!
Later that day I met Trevor Andrews who
is a snowboarder from Falmouth, Nova Scotia. Trevor
had been called in from Whistler, B.C as one of the
other snowboarders had injured his knee and was unable
to compete. Trevor made the finals and finished 10th
overall. Well done Trevor!
February 8th Opening Ceremonies
Day! Unfortunately due to the security concerns, Canada
was only issued 157 passes for Opening Ceremonies (one
for each athlete) plus 6 passes for the Mission Staff.
There were some passes which became available so each
of our names was entered in a draw. Opening Ceremonies
is a phenomenal experience! I had the opportunity of
marching in Opening Ceremonies for the Pan American
Games in 1999 It is a tremendous rush! Anyway,
Marty ("PC Mama") was selected to have one
of the passes. Unfortunately Park City was in
the middle of a snow storm! So all the gang sat around
and watched Opening Ceremonies on TV.
February 9th What a great day.
Up at 5:30 a.m. and at 6:00a.m., left with Jack and
Wendy for free style skiing. The Womens mogul
competition was being held. Up at the top of the mountain,
I met a chap from the U.S. Special Forces (Green Berets).
We chatted for a while and then he showed up a few minutes
later bearing a gift an unopened MRE (Meal Ready
to Eat) -- grilled steak! Right now it is sitting in
the pantry at home in the event of an emergency
it is supposed to be good for 10 years!
Now you have to picture being at the
top of a ski hill and despite my "infinity"
accreditation, I did not have a "hill pass".
But I had to get to the bottom of the hill. One of the
electricians came by on a snowmobile and said he would
take me down the hill. Now try to imagine this
going down a hill a steep ski hill on
a snowmobile without a helmet. And believe me,
he was not pussy footing down the hill!
Once I got down to the bottom of the
hill and was able to pry my fingers off the side bars
of the snowmobile, I gradually made my way to my spot
at the bottom of the hill. Todd Allison (team leader
for free style skiing) and his coaches are fantastic
group of people. They invited me to hang around with
them for the day right at the bottom of the hill.
When you watch skiing on TV, you see the skiers stop
at the bottom and wait for their scores. This is all
pre-arranged with the camera crews. We were standing
right there the skiers were right in front of
us with the cameras. It was a great day for the Canadian
women. Jennifer Heil finished 4th; missing a bronze
medal by .01 of a point. Jenn is only 18 years old and
is the best of the women free style skiers.
It was also fairly cold, standing there
for long periods of time. I even had my big Sorel boots
on. I eventually had to go to the medical hut to get
some hand warmers and stick them under the arch of each
February 10th Over the next 24-48
hours, there is a transition between events. The Canadian
Medical Team also had a reception for all the health
care workers in the Athletes Village. I met the
chiropractor for New Zealand, Dr. Randy Wilke, who actually
practices in Calgary. He works with the New Zealand
Bobsled team so was asked to be a member of their team.
I also met medical staff from Great Britain, Sweden
February 11th This was the day
of the figure skating fiasco. Jamie Selé and
David Pelltier handled the whole incident extremely
well. They are both super people. Late that evening,
I transferred back to Athletes Village and Greg
left for Park City the next morning.
February 12th First day back in
the clinic in Athletes Village. Got to meet a
lot of people including Dick Pound (of the IOC), Elvis
Stojko and his coach Uschi Keszler, David and Jamie.
The figure skaters were living on the same floor as
the medical clinic, so we bumped into David, Jamie,
Victor, Shae Lynn, Jennifer and Elvis almost every day.
One little tidbit from Athletes
Village after the disappointing results which
gave David and Jamie the silver medal instead of the
gold, a number of the medical team (I believe Greg led
this project) took sheets of paper and marked "6.0"
on each of them. These were taped all over their door.
February 13th The International
Ice Hockey Federation President, provided the Canadian
Medical Team with 10 passes to his private box. Five
of us were able to go down and watch the Canadian Women
beat Russia 7-0 (60 shots to 6). That evening I met
Mario Lemieux, Ryan Smith and Ed Jovanoski.
Health care in the Athletes Village
was certainly an ideal situation multi-disciplinary
to say the least. Arranging for diagnostic studies was
also an experience. I examined an athlete at 5 p.m.,
and felt that an MRI would be clinically indicated.
The CMO agreed, and over supper I had a consultation
with Nick Mohtadi who is one of the orthopedic surgeons
on the Canadian Team(team physician for the Calgary
Flames). At 8 oclock that evening, I accompanied
the athlete to the portable MRI which was at the host
medical services clinic. By 8:30 the MRI was done and
I was having a personal consultation with the radiologist.
Now thats efficient health care!
February 14th Happy Valentines
Day! Part of my duties involved opening up the medical
clinic at 7 am every morning, for the remainder of the
Games. The rest of the Mens Hockey Team arrives
so we get used to seeing the likes of NHL stars around
February 15th It is announced
that David and Jamie will be presented with the gold
medals given the ever changing story of the French judge.
I met the third Nova Scotian on the Olympic
Team, Al McInnis from Port Hood, Nova Scotia.
February 16th Up early again,
and took some time in the afternoon to go downtown to
Canada Olympic Lodge. They also had a Roots store in
the front part of the lodge where the "poor boy
hats" were selling at a brisk pace. I was told
that in Park City, the Roots store was selling 2000
"poor boy hats" a day!
I had dinner that evening with Dr. Laney
Nelson who is a chiropractor who I was put in contact
with through FICS (Federation Internationale Chiropractique
Sportive). The portable tables which the CCSS(C) graciously
donated to the Canadian MASH Unit, were sent to Dr.
Nelsons office along with our turtle necks and
fleece vests from G2 Orthopedic Supplies. We went out
to dinner at a restaurant where the salad bar is fantastic,
and various types of meat are brought around to you
on a skewer. It was quite interesting ---- rattlesnake
(bland) and alligator sausage (spicy!)! It was a great
meal although there were no alcohol beverages served
at that restaurant.
February 17th Nothing spectacular
today. Was pretty busy in clinic but the evening was
capped off by an invitation by the New Zealand Medical
Team for reception.
February 18th Early in the day,
Jamie dropped into the clinic with her gold medal that
David and she were presented with the previous evening.
Yep I got to hold it pretty heavy
about 1_ pounds.
I watched the Canadian men tie Czechoslovakia
3-3 in hockey. At the hockey game I met Roger Jackson
(former COA President) and Doug Clement (Sports Medicine
February 19th Met Pat Quinn. A
lot of moves within the Canadian building with respect
to the medical team. A number of the medical team (but
not me) were shifted around due to athletes coming back
into the Village after finishing the competition.
Womens Hockey team beat Finland
7-3 to advance to the gold medal game.
February 20th – Earliest start to the
day yet – athletes letes presented to the clinic at
Was able to attend the Mens Hockey game to see
Canada beat Finland 2-1.
February 21st Gold Medal game
for the Women 3-2 over USA. Unfortunately I wasnt
able to get down for the game. Spoke to Pat Quinn late
that evening as he sat on "Pats Bench"
outside of the Canadian residence. Pat was very impressed
with the composure of the Women during the gold medal
game (in between puffs on a rather large cigar). What
was interesting, in speaking to the girls after the
game, is that they fully expected to have penalties
called on them. They had experience with that American
referee previously so knew what to expect.
February 22nd Slow day in clinic.
Not much going on. Things are starting to wind down
around the Village.
February 23rd Tragically Hip concert
for the Canadian Team and a few guests. Have to start
to pack ouch! Came with 1_ bags; now have 3.
Also have to start organizing for customs.
February 24th Was able to attend
the mens gold medal game in which Canada beat
the USA 5-2. Thank goodness for "Infinity"
accreditation --- tickets were being scalped for $3000!
The last 30 seconds of the game was an experience I
will not forget. Many of us actually had chills as all
the Canadians burst into singing "Oh Canada".
After the Olympics, I read an interview that Al McInnis
mentioned the players on the bench had heard all of
us singing "Oh Canada".
When we got back to the Village, I was
given a ticket for closing ceremonies; one had just
become available from the lot which the Canadian Olympic
Association had been given. It was a phenomenal show.
Where else could you see such a line up of stars
Bon Jovi, Earth Wind Fire, KISS, Moby -- Wow! For those
of you who saw the closing ceremonies, the big mechanical
dinosaurs which were featured, were about 100-150 feet
to my right. I could very clearly see the person inside
each head that were controlling the movement.
It was a late night as we bid farewell
to about half of our team who were flying out to Calgary
at 2:30 in the morning.
February 25th Time to finish packing.
Athletes Village is almost deserted. Many of the
teams left last night after Closing Ceremonies.
Down to Canada Olympic Lodge at 5:30
p.m. for a reception. At 9:30 p.m. vans take us to the
airport. At 1:30 am we are homeward bound. By the time
I touch down in Halifax and get home, it is already
been 30 hours with only a cat nap or two on the plane.
It was a fantastic experience and a tremendous
honour to be able to represent our profession at an
event such as the Winter Olympics. Hopefully, I will
have the opportunity of participating at the Olympics
again in the future its a great feeling
to receive a phone call like the one I got in June of
Originally Published in the
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NSCC Spinal Column, Summer 2002