For the Tribune-Review
Jan. 28, 2010
Josh Szabo grew up dreaming of one day becoming an Olympic skier.
But while training for competitions a notch below the World Cup level in 1988, he suffered a severe knee injury that effectively ended his career.
So Szabo turned to orthopedic medicine, which has allowed him to remain close to the sport that he loves. Earlier this month, the 38-year-old Gibsonia resident found himself on the slopes in the French Alps working as a physician for the U.S. Ski Team.
"If you participate in their sport, there is a bond that is immediately established," said Szabo, who works for Tri Rivers Surgical Associates, headquartered in McCandless, in the North Hills. "I think I form a better relationship with them. I can ski with them, and it does provide some perspective with the athletes."
Szabo accompanied the ski team for three days while it competed in the World Cup at Les Contamines-Montjoie in France -- a competition that helped determine who will represent the United States in the Vancouver Winter Olympics next month.
He worked closely with the athletes competing in ski cross, a new Olympic event that involves four skiers racing down a course with jumps, bumps and banked turns. Lindsey Sine, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Ski Team based in Park City, Utah, said ski cross involves a lot of passing and even some bumping.
"It's an exciting head-to-head battle down the course," Sine said.
That battle can lead to tough injuries, Szabo said.
"They're big, strong athletes that can push each other off the course at any time," Szabo said. "People talk about football and soccer players being tough. When these guys get a bad injury, it's a horrific injury."