In it to win-it

January 30, 2015

Edmonton physician, Dr. Marni Wesner kept Canada’s athletes in winning shape at Sochi Olympics.

Personally and professionally, you need to get everything wrapped up before you go. It’s so busy that I know there’s no way I’m going to have time to do anything while I’m there. With Sochi, I even had to do my taxes before I left!

Although the world watched transfixed as the Sochi Olympics played out on our television screens earlier this year, a physician who was in Sochi taking care of Team Canada’s figure skaters saw almost nothing of the games.

“I think I saw five minutes of curling and the last two periods of one of the women’s hockey games,” recalls Dr. Marni Wesner, an Edmonton physician and director of Sport Medicine at the Glen Sather Sport Medicine Clinic at the University of Alberta. A former figure skater and coach herself, she explains, “we were just too busy with the athletes to spend much time watching anything. It’s definitely not glamorous.”

As the Chief Medical Advisor/Team Physician responsible for the athletes representing Canada at international competitions, Dr. Wesner has travelled with them to places such as the Dominican Republic, Italy, Thailand, Serbia, Poland and Turkey. “My passports don’t last much longer than three years,” she laughs.

Not surprisingly, every trip requires weeks of preparation. “Personally and professionally, you need to get everything wrapped up before you go. It’s so busy that I know there’s no way I’m going to have time to do anything while I’m there. With Sochi, I even had to do my taxes before I left!”

Although it’s a labour of love for Dr. Wesner - “or maybe stupidity” - she admits to being perplexed by the oddity of sports medicine. “Physicians are expected to volunteer their time, but you’d never get lawyers or accountants who work with the teams to work for free.”

Over the past 15 years, Dr. Wesner has travelled an average of three to six times a year with teams, a pace that can be exhausting. “I’m committed to continue working with them until the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018, and then we’ll see what happens. There are places in the world I would like to travel to and actually get a chance to see.”

 

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