Our PABC Member Shandia Cordingley is in PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Olympics, working with the Canadian Men's and Women's Snowboardcross team and the Men's Alpine Snowboard team. We interviewed her before she left for South Korea, and have been having a great time cheering her athletes on during the Games. Be sure to catch the Finals of the Giant Slalom on Saturday to catch Darren Gardner and Jasey Jay Anderson in action!
What is your name and what is your involvement in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics?
Shandia Cordingley. I travel with the Canadian Snowboardcross Team (men and women) on their World Cup tour full time and I will be attending the Games with them Feb 8-16. I will also be staying on to work with the Alpine Snowboard Men’s team who compete on Feb 24.
Shandia & the team in their Canada gear on the way to Pyeongchang.
Who are the athletes you work with, and in which sports?
Jasey Jay Anderson (his 6th Olympics)
Shandia w/Snowboardcross athletes after getting on the podium, December 2017.
Shandia with all of the athletes a top the mountain in Bulgaria.
How long have you been working with elite athletes (in general)?
I graduated from UofA in 2000, and over the years I have worked in the clinic with various athletes from a variety of sports, and also volunteered at various sporting events. In terms of travel, I first went to Europe with Alpine Skiing in 2008, I also volunteered at the 2010 Olympic Games in Whistler.
How long have you been working with this/these specific athletes?
I started with Canada Snowboard in November of 2010. This is now my 8th season travelling with them. I was originally with Alpine Snowboard for five seasons and attended the Sochi Games with them. This is my third season with Snowboardcross (SBX).
What was your initial reason for wanting to work with athletes at an elite level?
I played competitive sports when I was younger in which physio was a benefit to me personally. I am a sports fan in general and I enjoy being a part of the competition!
In terms of physio, I remember my very first day of PT school at UofA (way back when) when one of our profs did a presentation on his time at the ‘96 Olympic summer games and thinking that would be very cool to experience!! I enjoy the challenge of treating on the road as it is quite different from treating in the clinic. Helping/educating patients in general on returning to the activity or sport they enjoy has always been enjoyable for me and being able to play a small role in the multi-faceted process of helping these elite athletes be able to compete at the top of their game is rewarding.
How has working with these athletes inspired you?
It’s inspired me to be at the top of my ‘physio game’.They are doing every little thing they can to be the best and I try to do the same. Whether it’s keeping up on further education/courses; consulting with other therapists and specialists when necessary; making sure I’m rested and focused on the road; being aware of my role on the team; and being willing to do the little extras to help the athletes and staff out that aren’t necessarily physio related; or even just being there to listen to and support the athletes.
Shandia taping an athlete's foot in the lodge at the bottom of the hill.
What kind of work do you do with the athlete(s) to get them prepared for competing at this level?
Everything from daily treatments while we are on the road, on hill/off hill assessments and return to sport decisions to ensure athletes aren’t at risk of further injury; helping to enable them to do their S&C routines on the road; ensuring they are doing everything they can to stay healthy on the road; facilitating their interaction with our team physician when necessary. When the athletes are at home I coordinate their specialist appointments, stay in contact with the therapists / S&C coaches they work with at home and ensure all our IST staff and coaches are up to date as to where an athlete is at in their rehab process etc.
Why does what you do as a physiotherapist help your athlete(s) reach peak performance for the Olympic Games?
There are so many components involved in an athlete reaching peak performance, and really, we are just a small piece of the puzzle. It’s important for us to facilitate this process and educate our athletes as best we can with in our scope and be willing to work as part of a team in the overall process. For the Games, nothing changes from a physio stand point. There are just A LOT more distractions, so I ensure I am not a distraction myself and try to keep the same routine and help the athletes do the same.
What kind of obstacles (if any) has your athlete/have your athletes had to overcome to get to where they are today (i.e. injuries, personal adversity…only if you are comfortable/the athlete is comfortable sharing)?
SBX is a high risk sport with significant impact on landings, high speed crashes and contact with other riders. This is always the same whether they are training or racing, so every single time they pull out of that start gate, they are at risk.
It’s tough to pick one as they have all had significant acute and chronic injuries they have had to overcome at some point in their career. Concussions are common in this sport and always a challenge from a rehab standpoint, as well as challenging physically and emotionally for the athlete. We are lucky to have an amazing Integrated Support Team at CSB and great therapists who work with our athletes when they are at home to ensure everyone gets back on the track healthy, safely and ready to compete!
Where will you be cheering from during the Games?
I will cheering on the athletes in person from the start section of the SBX track and the Alpine Snowboard course in Phoenix Snowpark, Pyeongchang!!!