Arthur De Luigi, D.O., is no stranger to winter sports. The chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Arizona has been a team physician with the U.S. Skiing and Snowboarding Association since 2008, and he is the head physician for U.S. Paralympics Ski and Snowboard Team.
Last November, Dr. De Luigi accompanied the U.S. Ski Jump Team to the Ski Jump World Cup in Wisla, Poland. This event was unlike any other, as it was held during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. De Luigi shared some of his observations and experiences with the News Center team.
How did you support the U.S. Ski Jump Team at the World Cup, and how did the pandemic affect your work?
I conducted daily team training rooms in conjunction with the physiotherapist. I was responsible for health and wellness, including navigating the COVID-19 protocols and anti-doping testing. The experience was additionally unique in that I provided care for the athletes of Team USA and Team Canada. The pandemic significantly impacted the normal workflow and the overall experience of the athletes with the restrictions of fans. Our athletes continually mentioned how odd and quiet it was, as the Wisla event is always one of the most widely attended
What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was coordination of care in a Polish-speaking country. I have a basic introductory level of knowledge in the Polish language, but there were translators who assisted.
What is your favorite memory?
The best part of serving on a medical team is keeping all the athletes healthy so they can participate in competition. The best part is that I was able to care for these athletes and help them so that they were able to participate in this international competition. The best personal experience was being there in this quaint Polish city and working with these amazing international athletes.
Are you a ski jumper yourself?
I am not a ski jumper, and I try to keep my skis on the ground. During my time with the U.S. Skiing and Snowboarding Association over this past decade, I have had some time around events to continually advance my alpine skiing skills through the advice and guidance of these expert coaches.
Would you take the trip and role again?
I would absolutely take this trip again, and I was supposed to cover again in Romania in February. However, there had been an increase in COVID-19 in Europe, and the association is trying to limit exposures of additional staff with international travel.
Do you have advice to colleagues who may be presented with such an opportunity?
Working with these high-level athletes is an amazing experience, and it is one that any colleague should pursue if they have an interest.