Next to ski jumping and cross-country coaches, the athletes in Nordic Combined have experts to take care of all fields influencing the performance. One big, important part is surely the job of physiotherapist in charge of the rehabilitation and health issues of the sportsmen. In this edition of "Behind the scenes with…", Adam Perreault from the U.S. team walks us through the mysteries of his job and what exactly he has been doing since he started to work in Nordic Combined in the summer of 2012.
Adam, what have you done before you started working for Nordic Combined as a physiotherapist?
Adam Perreault: Well, in the US, I am actually called an "Athletic Trainer". That is not something that they have here in Europe. It's similar to physical therapist which is again similar to physiotherapist. In the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, we work together with all of our disciplines, like Snowboard or Alpine. At some point, even the disabled skiing was with us as well as Women's Ski Jumping or Ski Jumping. I was with the speed and tech men's Alpine team before I came here.
Why did you switch to Nordic Combined?
Perreault: The Nordic Combined schedule is more focussed on specific periods which allowed me to be home more. Being in Europe all the time and away from home and family was great for a while when I was with the Alpine team. But after four years with their schedule… and we were on snow every month which meant we were away from home every month, that's a lot! I live in Salt Lake City which is close to our base in Park City but originally, I am from New Hampshire which is in the North-East. So seeing the family where they live is not possible much.
In terms of your daily tasks in the team, what do you do?
Perreault: Well I have become a pretty good a carrying a lot of things and move things around! (laughs) I also do a lot of packing and unpacking and then packing again. But that's not my main role. My main role is to take care of the health and well-being of the athletes. I also do the scheduling for having our physicians and doctors coming in and support us but on a day-to-day basis, I am here to look after the athletes. This goes back to athletic training and emergency care if something were to happen. And then of course the rehabilitation, the maintenance and recovery work to keep them in their best shape.
Nutrition is also part of it but at the US Ski Team, we are so fortunate to have sports scientists, physiologists and nutritionists who comprise our high performance department. So I am able to focus mainly on the "maintenance" side. But I definitely am the link to this department and I am the only one on the road with the team, so I am bridging the gap. I get information from the athletes and pass it on to dieticians or also to the sports psychologists.
Nordic Combined is special for you because…?
Perreault: (laughs) It takes the adrenaline junkie/speed freak on the ski jumping side to be on the edge and fly and the crazy endurance athlete who just loves pain and thrives in that environment. And these athletes are so special and great to watch!
What do you like most about your job?
Perreault: Days like today, when it was absolutely gorgeous outside. We had a pretty good jumping session so there was some success and then a nice day to go out and ski. So quite selfishly, getting to be outside in these beautiful mountains and see happy people is great. But it's also being with the U.S. team, we have fun! You know, travel days can be fun, just being together and joking around. Living in the moment. Not getting caught up by having to sit in an airport but play games there. I think that's pretty special.
The best moment you had on your job so far?
Perreault: Again, days like today! It's hard to beat. Though I have to say, the World Champs in Predazzo, getting a medal in the Team Event and also the cross-country team, which I also oversee, our women kicking ass were great. That was really amazing. To see these long training periods pay off was really nice. But I like the day in and day out, just having fun kind of thing.
If you had one wish, one thing you could change about Nordic Combined, what would it be?
Perreault: More exposure in the United States! I would want the media and the general public in the U.S. to see what our athletes do and how special this is and to not be cut off from the magic that is Nordic Combined. Because the mass population has no idea this sport even exists.
What is your goal for your job for this season?
Perreault: The goal is to be challenged and to find success. That's defined differently for every team. Our ski association has a pretty high demand: our goal is to be the best in the world in skiing and snowboarding. That's what we wanna be and what we're training to do. We have a couple of weeks left until the Olympics and that's what everybody's focussed on.