Feature: China's ski doctors weave safety net for Beijing 2022 athletes

(Xinhua) 17:07, February 17, 2022

BEIJING, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Can non-athletes join the Olympics alongside the world's best skiers? Chinese doctors offering medical aid, along with their foreign counterparts, say "Yes."

Bai, a 38-year-old anesthesiologist, is one of China's first-generation ski doctors currently rendering medical service at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Center to athletes participating in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

An experienced ski enthusiast himself, Bai works at the Peking University Third Hospital. He spends 30 to 40 days in ski resorts every snow season, and almost all his vacation time is spent skiing.

Ski doctors must carry a medical kit weighing 15 kg during competitions so as to offer first aid to injured athletes as quickly as possible.

To make this possible, Fu Yan, a doctor from Xiyuan Hospital of China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, practiced skiing almost every day throughout the winter before the Beijing Olympic Winter Games. She fell in love with skiing in 2008 and has been hooked ever since.

"There is no shortcut for a ski doctor other than continuous practice," said Fu, who scored the highest among female doctors in the skiing tests conducted by the organizing committee.

In one of the on-field mishaps, U.S. alpine skier Nina O'Brien slipped near the finish line during the giant slalom event on Feb. 7. Deng Kan, a neurosurgeon from Peking Union Medical College Hospital, was among the on-site medical staff.

He said detailed examination and emergency treatment such as analgesia and fixation were administered. She was carried off the course on a stretcher and sent to hospital, where she was diagnosed with a compound fracture of the left leg and underwent surgery within an hour.

Extending appreciation, the U.S. ski and snowboard team had tweeted: "Nina would like to express her gratitude to all of the people who assisted her so quickly in the finish area at the race, and especially to the doctors and nurses at the hospital who have taken such great care of her."

Bai noted that the newly-built Yanqing alpine skiing center is among the world's most challenging fields as evaluated by the International Ski Federation (FIS), making medical protection rather tough.

For doctors, observing athletes' injury process can play an important role in preliminary assessment, Bai said, adding that the initial four minutes are crucial for rescue.

"On the field, we should keep an eye on every athlete like a high-speed camera. In case of an accident, we must rush to athletes at the earliest, accurately find out the injured parts for treatment, and transfer the injured to the medical station," Fu said.

Therefore, during daily training, it is necessary to practice skiing skills regularly, master the fundamentals of movement, develop muscle memory and ski on the slope as competently as walking on the ground, she added.

"Beijing 2022 has provided us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from the world's best athletes and to cooperate professionally with international ski doctors," Fu said. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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