Hood River PT  writes from Italy

By ADAM LAPIERRE

News staff writer

February 25, 2006

In early August Gillian Honeyman took about nine months off from her position as clinical manager at Hood River Physical Therapy. And when she resumes her post in May, she will probably be a different therapist altogether.

Honeyman’s time away from the office and out of town wasn’t a long vacation. She wasn’t skiing the French Alps, diving in Acapulco, or exploring Costa Rica. She was not climbing Everest, relaxing in the sand or windsurfing in the Gulf of Mexico.

She did, however, get to do a lot of traveling. And she spent some time in the snow; she hung out with some famous people; she ate great food; she saw new cultures; and she stayed in some pretty nice places.

Since August, Honeyman has been the Head Therapist for the U.S. Snowboarding Team, which is currently at the Winter Olympics in Italy. Her tour of duty was based out of Park City, Utah, and included trips to the Winter X Games and other World Cup events and competitions, as well as the 20th Olympics. Her job, put simply, was to coordinate all medically related treatment for the team’s 45 or so athletes.

Honeyman wrote about her most recent experiences with the team in a series of e-mails. The following are excerpts of those letters.

Jan. 22, from New Jersey:

“We finished our team selections today in New Jersey; some crazy finishes that shook things up. But we have an amazing team heading to Italy and I am so psyched. It is going to be so fun. I am finally excited about it, until now it’s just been wild… The level of riding continues to go up every week.

“Next it’s off to Winter X in Colorado. The athletes are going on Leno tonight but I am going to skip out and have dinner with a friend in town.”

Feb. 15, from Italy:

“We are certainly having lots of fun and are looking for more success in the next few days. The athletes are all healthy, save for one who has had to withdraw. Jayson Hale has had a significant injury to his right knee, which was repaired less than a year ago. The only positive was that we have an alternate, and he will be racing tomorrow, so good for him.

“Things here are great, obviously. Four of six medals thus far is good — we really wanted five, but poor Kelly (Clark) fell on that last hit of the half pipe finals. She is an amazing rider; she goes as big as the guys for sure … It’s been super exciting, but we’ve also been super busy … We have this amazing live-in chef. She is great Italian woman who makes the most gourmet food I’ve ever had, every night. Even breakfast is an event … I am getting free cooking lessons in exchange for some body work on her. I’m getting the better end of the deal for sure.

Feb. 22, from Italy:

“We are down to only one more event in Italy, and I am psyched to unwind. We have been having a blast, and I love Barrdoneccia — the little town we have lived in for the last month. The locals are great, and the entire experience has been so much fun.

Feb. 24, from Italy:

“We have just finished up in Bardoneccia. Snowboarding took seven medals these games: gold and silver in both men’s and women’s halfpipe, gold in men’s, and silver in women’s boardercross, and bronze in women’s PGS (parallel giant slalom). We are packing up and heading to Torino for departure. Obviously its been an amazing experience. Working with the best snowboarders in the world is a fun and challenging experience. I’ve learned a ton working with medical professionals from all over the world and I am honored to work with Peter Foley (the head coach of US Snowboarding, also lives in Hood River) and the rest of our staff who are dedicated coaches, and give their lives to our sport. Those kids would never be where they are without people like him. We are heading off to the last three contests of the year, winding up the season by the end of March .... what a whirlwind!”

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