Clubhouse Chronicles: My first few months as AVSC’s athletic trainer

Erin Young
AVSC athletic trainer

I’ll start this article off with the same disclaimer I give all Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club athletes when we start an injury evaluation: please excuse my ignorance when it comes to understanding competitive skiing and snowboarding.

Don’t get me wrong, I grew up skiing and snowboarding and have been skiing in the Roaring Fork Valley for over six years now. That said, I still have a lot to learn regarding the intricacies of the forces these athletes experience when landing a cork seven, racing at 70-plus mph, or skate skiing for miles on end.

As AVSC’s new athletic trainer, I am excited to continue to learn about these challenging, unique and physically demanding sports. There’s often some confusion around the role of an athletic trainer; while the name implies someone who “trains athletes,” that is only the smallest piece of what athletic trainers do. Athletic training encompasses the prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of emergent, acute or chronic injuries.

Think of the last sporting event you watched. An athlete (unfortunately) likely was injured at which point a number of first responders ran out onto the field to assess the injury and help get the athlete off the field. Those first responders are all athletic trainers; they will continue to work with these athletes daily through their recovery process and even when they are back on the field.

I started at AVSC at the end of October, jumping in with both feet just as all the programs were ramping up for the season. This position is new to AVSC thanks to Aspen Valley Hospital’s support. While I’m technically an employee of Ortho Aspen, I am positioned full time at the AVSC clubhouse. My days are spent between the clubhouse and the mountain depending on competition and training schedules.

When the inevitable happens and an athlete goes down or has some sort of pain holding them back from performing their best, I’m a resource to help them get back to 100%. Whether that entails referring them to an orthopedic doctor for X-rays or surgery consultations, connecting them with a physical therapist or chiropractor for those nagging injuries, working in the gym with them on injury prevention, warmups, core strengthening, recovery and stretching or working them through a return to activity after a concussion, I work with athletes one-on-one to create a customized recovery plan aimed at getting them back to doing what they love most in the most efficient manner possible.

While I haven’t been at AVSC long, I’ve been instantly impressed with the level of athleticism, drive and passion these athletes possess. I’ve found myself holding my breath as they take off from a jump, or when a racer slides out of control into the B net, and can only exhale once they complete the run or jump back up and click back into their skis. Those are the best days — a “boring” day is a good day for an athletic trainer — although we’re always ready for the busy days.

Clubhouse Chronicles is a behind-the-scenes column written by the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club that runs periodically in the Outdoors section.