Q&A with Dr Richard Weiler on the Winter Olympics

What was your role at the Winter Olympics?


I was Team GB Medical Officer working in the mountains with all the ski and sliding athletes (where GB won all our medals although I would never want anyone to think I did much to earn these!).

Did you see many injuries in the athletes? If so, what were the most common?


We had many injuries as all the extreme sports were in the mountains. All the freestyle skiing and hurtling down the ice at 90+ miles an hour is rather risky stuff. I was on skis with my equipment ready to help at all times for training and competition. I even had to ski down the Olympic halfpipe to help one of our athletes who had a fall. With all the crowd, staff and athletes watching I managed not to fall and even pulled a few turns! (Got a high score from the GB coaches).

The snowcross and boardcross was very dangerous. We saw some horrific injuries, fortunately not to GB athletes but still awful. I had to ski the route to get an idea of what I had let myself in for and the jumps were terrifying, even for a competent skier like myself. Just to get passed the start without falling is an achievement. 

How do the athletes train for competitions such as these?


The training for the Olympics is planned years in advance. There is a great deal of conditioning work that takes place both for injury prevention and performance. 

The athletes are all extremely talented and practice helps them perfect but then when they arrive at the games the conditions, weather and snow affect performance. In South Korea most of the snow was recycled from last year or with a snow cannon and this changes speed and landing for the athletes. The temperatures were as low as -25 degrees and thus affects the snow and ice and then the wind was a bit high at times. This causes the jumping sports to struggle as being able to do complex high jumps with wind can become very challenging. This happened in the slopestyle. 

About Dr Richard Weiler

Dr Richard Weiler qualified from the University of Bristol in 1999, then completed an MSc in Sports & Exercise Medicine from UCL in 2008. He is a Fellow of the Faculty of Sport & Exercise Medicine and on the Board of the American College of Sports Medicine and Institute of Sports & Exercise Medicine. 

Dr Weiler treats musculoskeletal conditions and sports injuries at any age and level of activity and has a particular interest in lower limb rehabilitation following injury or surgery, tendon injuries and groin pain. His focus is on helping patients return to function and reach their goals. He has wide experience in the non-operative management of sports injuries, rehabilitating athletes of all abilities, from all summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic athletes to International and Premier League footballers and rugby players. He also works with teams of healthcare professionals to rehabilitate non-athletes with musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain and joint pain.