Sochi and Quebec City: Memory and Desire

The first days of summer are almost here, the longest days of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.  I have been looking forward to this since the dark days of December and January.

opening ceremonies connie lebrun

Dr. Connie LeBrun, at opening ceremonies, Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Summer carries its intrinsic sweetness with it every year, but this year my anticipation of these days has been wrapped up with dreams of Quebec City, where the 2014 Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine (CASEM) will have its annual meeting concurrently with the XXIII FIMS World Congress of Sports Medicine.

There is much to look forward to, including catching up with old friends.  Connie Lebrun–who will be familiar to several readers of this blog–will be among the folks I see.  Aside from communiques via email, I will typically only get the chance to see Connie at such conferences (I saw her last in Orlando, at the ACSM meeting). Among the many hats she wears, she is on this journal’s editorial board, and I enjoy her frequent contributions to the CJSM journal club feature.

Connie was the head physician for the Canadian Olympic team that traveled to Sochi earlier this year. I asked her to give a quick run down of her experiences in sports medicine at the 2014 Winter Olympics, and she has graciously obliged.

What did T.S. Eliot say about mixing memory and desire?  I’m no poet, but I think it’s a natural combination to combine the two; and so here’s to the memories of Sochi, and the anticipation of what is to come in Quebec.


Memories of Sochi – Dr. Connie Lebrun


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Alexey Pleskov and Connie LeBrun, 2014 ACSM Orlando

Just back last week from the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in Orlando Florida. The last session that I attended was a Special Event entitled “SOCHI 2014:  Sports Medicine Challenges, Strategies and Solutions. It was submitted by the ACSM Olympic and Paralympic Issues Committee, of which I am a member, and Chaired by Dr. Margo Mountjoy, member of the IOC Medical Commission. She later spoke about the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Injury and Illness Surveillance system that they have been using at Olympic Games since 2008. A highlight for me, though, was hearing Dr. Alexey Pleskov, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for the Sochi 2014 Olympics and Paralympics – discussing Medical Services at the Games. Then Dr. Paul Piccinnini (DDS), also from the IOC Medical Commission, enlightened us about Management of Dental Disease and Oro-Facial Trauma during the 2014 Winter Olympics, which apparently accounts for ~ 40% of all athlete-treatments in the Polyclinic(s) at the Olympics. This was followed by a “tag-team” of Dr. Randy Wilber (PhD, USOC Training Center, Colorado Springs) and Dr. Nanna Meyer (PhD, RD) discussing the preparation of the US Speed Skating team, in terms of physiology and training, as well as outlining some of the sports nutrition challenges and strategies.

The presentations and photos brought back many memories for me, as I was honored to have been the Chief Doctor for the Health and Science Team (HST) for the Canadian Olympic Team. Read more of this post

Snow Worries: Sochi Olympics, Second Week


Winter in Sochi 🙂

I was reading the Washington Post the other day, and came across an article with a clever title:  “At Sochi Olympics, Finding Risk is Snow Problem.”

It took your less than clever blogger here a moment to get that…….

Now that I do, I’m modifying the word play for this post’s title.

But the story under the headline I ‘got’ right away.  The Post reporter was arguing that the Sochi snow (quality and quantity) was a danger to competitors, and was possibly increasing the incidence and severity of injuries seen this Olympics.

Like most of you, I have followed the Sochi Olympics with great interest.  The sport is central to my enjoyment; but I also am intoxicated by the scenes of the beautiful Caucasus mountains set so close to a warm, subtropical coastline.  I don’t know if any other Winter Games have been hosted in a city with palm trees.

So, the snow:  so central to a Winter Olympics.  Is it a problem?  We can wait to tally up IOC medical charts, but you can also weigh in with your opinion on our poll below!

And if you’re especially enterprising–and you’re collecting data on this or other epidemiologic issues central to the Sochi Olympics–by all means submit a manuscript to the journal!  We frequently publish studies looking at the Olympics or the effect of sporting surface on injury rates.  We’d love to hear from clinicians/researchers/epidemiologists who have written up their studies and are looking for a quality journal to review their work.

Until then:  take the poll!

*poll can also be found on the journal’s main website

The Sports Gene: How Olympians are made (or born)


Erika Coimbra,
Brazilian Summer Olympian,
and one of the subjects of
“The Sports Gene”

The venues at Sochi are still, it seems, a work in progress.  Nevertheless, before the week’s end, we will (should?) see the Winter Olympic games start up.  Soon, we’ll get to watch some of the finest athletes in the world compete at their sport.

There has been a lot of talk about the on-going construction at the most expensive games in Olympic history, as well as the issue of gay rights and cultural sensibilities in Russia;  and there have been worries about the potential for terrorism.  But soon, when the competitions begin, I hope the focus will justifiably be on the athletes on the snow and ice.

Or in Tweet speak: #LetGamesBegin

I’ve not been consciously preparing for this elite sporting event, but rather coincidentally recently picked up a book that highlights elite athletes and has received a great deal of positive ‘buzz’:  The Sports Gene, by David Epstein.

You likely have heard of the book.  It has been receiving excellent reviews and is generating a lot of chatter in print, visual and social media.  On Monday, for instance, The Guardian hosted a live chat online with the author.  Subtitled, “Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance,” the book delves into one of the ‘ultimate’ questions in sport:  nature or nurture, which is more important?  And, specifically, which is more important in the realm of elite sport?

Like many ‘ultimate’ questions, the real answer is not a clean, binary one.  That said, I walk away from reading this book thinking the bulk of the evidence is in favor of nature:  genetic endowments favor the production of elite athletes. Read more of this post

Paralympics, Sochi 2014, ACSM and more!

It’s been almost a month since the ACSM 2013 meeting in Indianapolis wrapped, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving for me.

Meetings like those of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM), or the Canadian Society for Sports and Exercise Medicine (CASEM)–all partner societies with the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine (CJSM)–are such a pleasure because a sports medicine clinician like myself can interact with clinician researchers from across the globe.


Michael Phelps better watch his back: My good friend and Paralympic Swimmer, Rayne McCann and her haul of medals

At both the ACSM meeting and the AMSSM meeting in San Diego I saw my friend and fellow CJSM editor, Connie LeBrun, M.D., from the University of Alberta.  I heard she chaired a wonderful session on the Paralympics at ACSM, one I could not attend because there was a concurrent session that took me away (such are the ‘downsides’ of these meetings–there is usually too much to fit in!)

What could I do, but beg Connie to pen a guest blog for me so I could learn more about her session at ACSM.  Little did I know, I could also live vicariously her jet-set life:  catching up with her between Indianapolis, Calgary, Russia, and all points between (I’m beginning to wonder if she’s involved in the Edward Snowden affair).  It has been hard to track her down!  But worth it.

And so I present the guest blog from my colleague, Connie Lebrun, M.D.



London 2012: Wenlock? Or Mandeville?

Can’t believe how fast the time has flown since the recent ACSM Annual Meeting in Indianapolis! A huge highlight for me, was chairing the Special Event submitted by the Olympic/Paralympic Sports Medicine Issues (OPSMI) Committee, of which I am a member. It was entitled: “London 2012: A Look Back at the Sports Medicine and Sport Science Issues of the Olympics and Paralympics.”

We had a stellar cast of speakers, beginning with David Epstein, a brilliant young “investigative journalist” for Sports Illustrated, who has won many awards for his science writing. He has produced innumerable cover stories for SI, on a variety of topical and controversial sports issues, including the piece that broke the news that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez had used steroids.

Read more of this post

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