Exceptional orthopedics: supporting the best
Special to the Tribune
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – With big competitions around the corner, and a heavy representation from the region, it’s hard to ignore the talent that originates in Lake Tahoe. Athleticism, grit, and determination is met with challenges on the road to the world stage, and requires an experienced and knowledgeable care team to support athletes at every stage.
As a world-class winter sports destination, Barton physicians see an ample amount of ski- and snowboard-related injuries; this knowledge, experience, and mindset naturally aligns our care providers to support elite-level training programs and career-enduring performance. After all, they’ve seen that even in a small mountain town, continuing to perform at your best can earn you a spot on the most prolific team in competitive sports.
Throughout Barton’s rich orthopedic history, elite athletes from across the Western U.S. have turned to Barton for treatment, given the physicians and facilities’ reputation for getting athletes back to their optimal performance level.
Dr. Terrence Orr, who came to Lake Tahoe from Chicago in the 1980s, once said, “I enjoy working with the skiers because they are at the pinnacle of athleticism. They take it to a higher level and are at the top of what they do. And snowsports are a big reason why many of us move here, right?”
Dr. Terrence Orr served as a physician for U.S. Ski and Snowboard for 31 seasons. He was the head team physician for the Men’s Alpine ski team for 14 seasons. His partners, Dr. Kyle Swanson, Dr. Dan Robertson, and the late Dr. Stephen Bannar, have also participated, and supported the late Dr. Paul Fry II’s dream of a physician medical program within U.S. Ski and Snowboard. Coming full circle, it also inspired his son, Dr. Jeff Orr, who continues Barton’s legacy of providing exceptional orthopedic care in winter sports.
Presently, Dr. Jeff Orr and Dr. Alison Ganong of Tahoe Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, along with Dr. Katie Gollotto of Barton Sports & Physical Medicine serve as medical providers for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team, volunteering at athlete training camps and competitions.
In this role, team physicians are responsible for keeping abreast of the medical issues involved with athletes they oversee while on the road. They serve as the primary resource for the head coach, head team physical therapist/ athletic trainer, and medical director regarding medical issues relating to an athlete’s ability to train or compete. Team physicians also provide recommendations regarding further evaluation, diagnostic procedures, and treatment plans and maintain up-to-date information on the medical and participation status of all athletes.
Dr. Orr has supported some of the top names in winter sports while traveling worldwide to places like Chile, Germany, and Switzerland. This year, Dr. Orr attended the Toyota Grand Prix in Mammoth, a FIS World Cup Freeski & Snowboard event, to support athletes competing in Slopestyle and Halfpipe.
Dr. Ganong has been a team physician for 12 years, and has traveled with the Nordic team and Men’s and Women’s Alpine ski teams to Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy, and Austria for World Cup event coverage. She was team doctor for the World Championships at Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley) and has treated and advised many local athletes over the years. As a ski racer herself, she intimately knows the challenges and successes of competition.
Dr. Gollotto, in her eight years as a U.S. Ski and Snowboard team physician, has traveled to international competitions in Norway, Canada, Switzerland, and the World Cup test event in 2017 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
“It’s not just that we travel with the team,” explains Dr. Gollotto. “We often travel ahead of time to the location, inspect hospital and infrastructure, navigate language barriers–there is much more than meets the eye when providing medical support for the team.”
This March, Dr. Gollotto will travel to Bakuriani, Georgia, for a World Cup slopestyle competition, covering both the freeski and snowboard teams.
Given the wealth of knowledge of Barton’s orthopedics team, there is an onus to share this experience with other medical providers interested in specializing in orthopedics and sports medicine. Barton’s Lake Tahoe Sports Medicine Fellowship is one of the most desired orthopedic specialist programs in the country. And while Barton is a relatively small, rural hospital, it is known for its high level of orthopedic care and quality service lines, such as the Level III Trauma Center and the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness; opportunities abound for the brightest physicians entering the orthopedic field.
Aside from learning under the area’s most renowned orthopedic surgeons, a revered part of the fellowship is the ability to provide medical coverage for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team through Barton’s decades-long partnership. It is considered a highlight of the fellowship and experience at this caliber draws many applicants each year who have specific interest in sports medicine.
Last fall, current Lake Tahoe Sports Medicine fellows, Dr. James Ohliger and Dr. Andy Haus, had an opportunity to travel with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team to their training camp in Saas Fee, Switzerland.
Dr. Ohliger spent two weeks with the Snowboard Cross, Halfpipe, and Big Air teams, “It was humbling to see the athletic abilities of these elite athletes. Thankfully, I only had to call the helicopter one time for medical evacuation.”
Dr. Haus joined the U.S. Women’s Alpine ski team for their first official training camp of the season. “Just about every country in Europe, North America, and Asia was represented, all of which took place on a glacier–perfect for Downhill and Super G training.”
Dr. Haus reminisced on early mornings with the team, where they began the day at 4 a.m. and accessed the training course via two gondolas and a train. “It was an inspiring experience to see the grit and resolve of these elite athletes up close and personal.”
Aside from one large injury, the bulk of the treatments Dr. Haus addressed included concussion assessment, working through daily health decisions with athletes and coaches, managing expectations–”much more than you do on an average day in the office.”
“Physicians are rarely at the scene of injury, so it was so unique to step out of the traditional role as a doctor and get in the game with them–right there when things are happening–to offer real-time management of acute injuries,” says Haus. He’ll certainly be tuned in on a new level as the events air next month.
Barton is proud to be at the leading edge of orthopedics in the region. As an official partner of U.S. Ski & Snowboard, serving the world’s top athletes is what our physicians do best, and providing the same high-quality orthopedic care to our community is what our physicians love most.
Chris Proctor, Director of Community Benefit at Barton Health and former Director of Barton’s Center for Orthopedics & Wellness, played an integral role in developing the Center into what it is today, a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Center of Excellence, and world-class facility for athletes of all calibers seeking orthopedic care, rehabilitation, and training. Learn more at BartonOrthopedicsandWellness.com.
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