With the Opening Ceremony in Beijing a week away, a physiotherapist from Michigan is wrapping up a seven-day stint as a volunteer at the US Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY.
Alex Patterson Tichy, 38 and a former top figure skater, lives and treats bobsleigh, skeleton, luge and biathlon athletes for issues ranging from accident-related bumps and bruises to overuse injuries.
“Everyone is so excited because everyone knows how hard these athletes train day in and day out. And it’s been going on for four years, if not longer, for all of these athletes,” Patterson Tichy said on a call. Friday with reporters hosted by Southfield-based Beaumont Health.
She is taking personal time from her job at Beaumont Physical Therapy in Berkley, near Royal Oak, and returning to her home in Pleasant Ridge on Sunday.
Meanwhile, athletes have started arriving in China, isolated from the rest of the country in what is called an Olympic bubble under the country’s strict pandemic measures. Events start on Thursday and the closing ceremonies are February 20.
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In New York City, the site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Games, Patterson Tichy stays in the athletes’ dormitories, runs a morning and afternoon clinic, and stands ready for on-track emergencies. bobsleigh, skeleton and luge.
Watching the athletes on the track gave him a “whole new level of appreciation”.
“It’s amazing to see how fast they go down the track, but also the forces that are on them when they go down the track because of the speed and how little vibration they feel.”
His own background is in skating. She has been on the ice since she was 4 years old. At the junior level, she was a national medalist. As a senior lady, she placed 11th at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 2004, when Olympic medalists Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen finished No. 1 and 2.
As a member of the national team, she once trained at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
“Thinking back to that experience as an athlete, being able to be at the training centre. And now to come back…it’s such a wonderful feeling to be among all these top athletes and you really feel the spirit Olympic when you are here,” she said on Friday.
The physical therapists who worked with her as a competitor inspired her career, which began in 2013 at Beaumont’s former site at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills.
When she saw that the Olympic training center was taking on medical professionals as volunteers, she filled out the application. The 2020 coronavirus ruined an earlier opportunity to work at the Colorado Springs training facility, Beaumont reported.
Back in Michigan, she will watch the Olympics with her family, all winter sports fans. Her husband, Petr Tichy, now a Detroit-area coach, was an elite level hockey player in Europe, and her son, 5, and daughter, 3, are already on skates.
“Every Olympics is a big moment for my family. It’s on TV 24/7. We try to catch all the events we can.
Going to the games is a dream, she says. “I would be so honored and thrilled to support and help American athletes.”
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