Chicago Doctor To Travel To Sochi With U.S Skating Team

Injury risk to Olympic skaters rivals any other winter sports

It takes more than balance and flexibility to compete among the top skaters in the world. Strength and agility also play a huge role, which means the possibility of injury always lurks behind artful jumps and landings.

Whether it's former champ Evan Lysacek sidelined with a bad hip or a speed skater crashing at 30 miles an hour, the risk to Olympic skaters rivals that of any other winter sports.

That's why a Chicago-area specialist is headed to Sochi to help keep Team USA in top form.

"Try lifting 100 pounds while gliding," orthopedic surgeon Dr. Craig Westin said. "It adds loads of stress to the upper body."

Westin will travel with the U.S. Figure Skating team, which includes Chicago star Gracie Gold and Highland Park's Jason Brown, who both made the United State's team this weekend.

Westin said boot and foot problems are most common among skaters, and he aims to keep the team healthy.

Two-time Olympian and coach David Santee says training is infinitely more sophisticated than in the past, which leads to injury prevention.

But with more training comes more assumed skill.

"Tricks are harder," Santee said, "spins are harder."

The Winter Games begin Feb. 6 on NBC.

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