Steamboat athletic trainer hopes her efforts will lead to success for American Olympians

Frederica Manning, an athletic trainer and physical therapy assistant at UCHealth's Yampa Valley Medical Center's SportsMed clinic, spent two weeks in December working with the U.S. Nordic Team in Switzerland and Italy. She will not be traveling to the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, but will be watching and cheering on the team that's she's worked with for eight years.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When the 2018 Winter Olympic Games kick off in February, Steamboat Springs’ Frederica Manning will be watching the events unfold with a vested interest in the success of the American Nordic skiers in PyeongChang, South Korea.

“It’s an important year because of the Olympics,” said Manning, who works with the U.S. Nordic Team as an athletic trainer and physical therapist assistant. “All of these athletes are vying for a  spot on the Olympic team. These guys are all working very hard.”

Manning spent two weeks with the team in December at World Cup races in Davos, Switzerland, and Toblach, Italy.

She is one of six trainers who take turns traveling with the mens and womens teams during the winter. The trainers job is to provide the athletes with the care and treatments they need to keep them at the top of their game, or to help them as they recover from injuries. 

It’s something that Manning has been doing for 15 years — the last eight with the mens and womens U.S. Nordic teams.

“I knew nothing about Nordic when I was asked to do it,” Manning said. “So my first year with them, the poor coach, I was asking him what does that mean, what is that. I had to be a quick learner.”

But while Manning had to learn about the sport, she had plenty of knowledge when it came to the athletes’ care before, during and after the international-level events. She has worked at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center’s SportsMed Clinic for 21 years. In that role she acted as the athletic trainer at the high school for years and has been a fixture at the rodeo and many other summer events in Steamboat Springs.

“I’ve always had that crossover working with athletes and patients that come into the clinic, as well,” Manning said, “There is something still that is really nice about working with the athletic population. It’s different because you are pushing them harder and training them harder. It’s a little bit different in the sense of how you are working with them.”

As a  member of the national Nordic team’s staff, she works with 15 elite level athletes during her two-week tour including Olympic hopefuls like Andy Newell and Simi Hamilton on the mens side and Jessie Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen and Kikkan Randall on the womens side. Her efforts keep them in tip-top shape for races, and she is also there when they are injured and looking for a quick recovery.

“I typically try to see all 15 each day,” Manning said. “The day is stacked from beginning to end.”

She is also there on race days performing tasks that help the racers get the most out of their bodies during sprint and distance races.

“We normally have a treatment room in the hotel where we are,” Manning said. “I do treatments all day long and kind of give them stuff to do independently.”

On race days, she can normally be found in a tent near the race course.

“On sprint days, I’m working on the guys when the women are going, and when the women are done, they are in the tent, and I’m working on them,” Manning said. “On the distance days, I work on a few before they go out, and I meet them back at the hotel to work on them when they get back.”

Manning said there’s a definite upside to being with the team. She gets a jacket, the team pays for her travel and meals, and of course, she gets to go to places all around the world.

“It’s just fun. You get to travel to places that you never thought that you would be able to go,” she said. “I still love Switzerland because it’s really beautiful, and it’s really nice. The people are super nice,  although Austria is really good too.”

Manning is a veteran trainer with the U.S. Team. She spent seven years working with the Alpine snowboard team before budget cuts ended that program. Then Manning was quickly picked up by the Nordic team and has been with them ever since.

She will not travel to PyeongChang, South Korea, in February and will watch the Winter Olympic Games play out on television.

Most of the teams have a primary trainer that will take charge at the games, but Manning still considers herself a part of a team.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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