Intermountain Caregivers Supporting Top Athletes at the Olympic Games

Jeff Harrison Olympic physician

Two Intermountain caregivers will be providing medical care for some of the world’s top athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympic games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Jeff Harrison, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Intermountain McKay-Dee Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, is the head team physician for the U.S. Women’s Alpine Ski Team and will be representing the United States as medical staff. Doug Flint, a physical therapist at Intermountain McKay-Dee Sports Medicine, is also traveling to South Korea to provide medical support for Sweden and Norway’s moguls teams. 

How will they support Olympic medal hopefuls?

As the head team physician, Dr. Harrison will help athletes like Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin stay healthy throughout the games. He'll oversee all medical care for the ten women on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team. He'll also evaluate and treat injuries on the hill if the need arises, but hopefully the athletes will complete all their runs safely.

“I’m looking forward to going to South Korea,” Dr. Harrison says. “I’ve never been to Asia, so that’s going to be exciting. Ski races are all somewhat similar, but I think the cultural exchange is what I’m looking forward to most.”

“It will also be exciting because the U.S. is going to have a really good team this year with Mikaela and Lindsey,” he says. “I think we’re going to win some medals.” He adds that Breezy Johnson and Stacey Cook each have a good shot at medaling this year, too.

Doug Flint is team physiotherapist for Sweden and Norway’s moguls teams and keeps the athletes healthy and conditioned to compete for their nations. He’s responsible for assessing and managing injuries, but devotes a great deal of his effort to preventing injuries through proper warm-ups, custom workouts, and proper exercise recovery.

“On competition days, I take care of last-minute physical issues, check equipment, and fit them into their skis properly,” says Doug. “I also assist the head coach at the starting line with any other issues that come up.”

He recommends keeping an eye out for Hedvig Wessel and Vinjar Slatten from Norway and Ludwig Fjalstrom from Sweden, who has recovered well from a surgical ACL repair ten months ago.

Olympic safety tips for all skiers

Though Doug and Dr. Harrison are providing medical expertise at the Olympic Games, they work very closely with local athletes of all abilities. Here’s some advice from Dr. Harrison for everyday skiers trying to stay safe on the slopes:

  • Be physically fit. “Fitness level is very important,” he says.
  • Fall smart. “There are ways to fall that are better than others,” he says. “If you fall forward instead of backward, you have a better chance at avoiding an ACL tear.”
  • Use equipment that fits properly and is in good repair.
  • Wear a helmet.

More about these caregivers 

  • Dr. Harrison has been a member of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association physician pool since 1998, and he is an expert orthopedic surgeon specializing in knee and shoulder surgery at home. Dr. Harrison has provided medical care to world-class athletes on and off the slopes for years. He has lent his medical expertise to five world championships and served as the venue medical officer at Snowbasin Resort during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah.
  • Doug Flint has worked as a physical therapist with many teams throughout his career. He has worked with the U.S., Sweden, Norway, and many other countries throughout 40 World Cup events, four World Championships, and now two Olympic Games.

Both Dr. Harrison and Doug are excited for the opportunity to care for some of the world’s top athletes. With an excellent snowpack and cold winter weather, South Korea’s Winter Games will make for gripping competition. 

Watch for more Olympic updates on Intermountain’s blog. Stay tuned!