Para Snow Sport Report

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Where have you been and what have you been up to?

I have just returned from a month in Europe with the Australian Para Snowboard team.

What does that involve?

Ben competes in para snowboard cross, which is like motorcross, but on snow. He races 3 other athletes on a purpose-built course. He also does the dual bank slalom where he races against 1 other athlete on a slalom course with high bank features.

He won the final snowboard cross event in the world cup, and placed 2nd in Dual bank Slalom. As it was the end of the season, he also won the Crystal globe which is given to the highest point scorer overall.

The pinnacle was Ben winning the World championships Snow Board cross, and finishing 3rd in the dual bank slalom.

As a physio, what was your role?

On a day to day basis, I work with Ben, his coach and board tec to get him to the start line in the best condition possible. After each day on the Snow, I would work with Ben on his mobility and flexibility with hands on therapy and exercise. On days off, between comps and travel days, he also did some sport specific conditioning.

I was also there to help with injuries on medical issues within the team. Fortunately for us, there was no issues during this campaign.

What did you take away from the experience?

Snowsports is a relatively new sport to me. I have never worked with para- athletes before either. It was amazing to see the comradery and support everyone offers each other. Not just amongst the athletes, but also amongst the team support staff. If someone was injured, every one offered help. Or, if someone needed equipment or help with their gear, there was no hesitation from the teams.

As a physio, it was great to again be part of a team in high performance sport. Watching how elite teams prepare and manage themselves in competition is motivating and inspiring. Having the opportunity to use my knowledge and experience to help his performance was excellent.

Anything you would change?

The travel! To get to Moena in Italy, I had 2 flights, 3 trains and 3 buses. A total of 36hours of non- stop travel- with almost 50kg of luggage including a massage table!

What about challenges?

One challenge was coming up with optimal exercises for Benny with limited equipment and space. Not all venues have gyms or areas dedicated to treatment. I always had in the back of my mind the deteriorating snow conditions increasing the risk of injury. Ben avoided anything, however there was some severe injuries in other teams.

And the highlights?

It has to be Ben winning the world championship gold in Snowboard cross. From the start of qualification, through the heats and to the final, Ben was in total control. He knows his craft, his ability and his competitors. He performed like the seasoned veteran he is. It was an absolute highlight watching him throughout the campaign.

Nathan Sculthorpe B.Physio B. Arts APAM
Senior Physiotherapist

P: 02 9968 3424

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