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Hospital physician takes sports coverage to the extreme

New Britain [August 09 2010] - When Hospital of Central Connecticut orthopedic surgeon Bob Waskowitz, M.D., of Avon, started as a sports medicine consultant with Bristol-based ESPN specifically for the X Games the concept of the “extreme athlete,” he notes, was early in its developmental phase.

That was 10 years ago when the sports genre, with events like BMX bike racing and skateboarding, was still relatively new to major broadcast coverage.

Since that time, Waskowitz has attended all but two of the X Games, and he’s looking forward to January’s Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo. Having covered both winter and summer games, he’s learned a lot about these historically non-traditional sports, from skateboarding and free skiing to BMX racing, and the intense focus and concentration that distinguish these athletes.

“My initial impression of an extreme athlete was of an independent ‘fringe’ performer. I’ve come to understand that these are mainstream professionals competing on an elite world stage,” says Waskowitz, who describes the athletes as having a 24-hour, 365 days a year commitment that embodies both physical and psychological strength. “They’re always training, always competing.”

With X Games spread over a week of practice and competition, Waskowitz typically works 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on site with a team of certified athletic trainers and associated staff evaluating 20 to 40 athletes daily. “It’s a very long day but it’s so exciting for me because nowhere else would I be able to see this level of competitiveness and performance,” he says.

Board-certified in orthopedic surgery and with a sports medicine fellowship from the Steadman Hawkins Clinic (now known as The Steadman Clinic) in Vail, Colo., Waskowitz learned of the X Games shortly after they began, in 1995, while a team physician for the University of Massachusetts, and Amherst, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges in Massachusetts. In 2000, he attended his first of nearly 25 X Games and other action sports competitions.

As a consultant working with ESPN medical staff, Waskowitz often facilitates getting an injured athlete from the sports site to a medical facility. ESPN, he says, has established relationships with area hospitals, EMTs, ambulance services and physicians in cities where events are held.

A former college lacrosse player, Waskowitz’ long-time presence at the games has enabled him to establish relationships – helpful, he adds, when it comes to counseling injured athletes – with many X Games athletes like Travis Pastrana (motocross and rally car) and Shaun White (snowboard, skateboard).

“These elite athletes are so intense, so focused on their sport, that’s why they’re at this level,” he says of X Games athletes, adding that level of commitment and focus is something he tries to incorporate in his practice.

Locally, Waskowitz, a third-generation physician in New Britain, and a partner with Orthopedic Surgeons of Central Connecticut in New Britain, is senior team physician for Central Connecticut State University; team physician for New Britain and Newington high schools and the Connecticut Crush women’s professional football team; and associate team physician for the Hartford Colonials men’s professional football team.

To be a part of the X Games, he says, “is a privilege that very few people get offered and I’m so thankful to the people I’ve gotten to know in the last 10 to 12 years that have allowed me to be part of this evolution. I can’t wait to see what’s next!”

Contact: Kimberly Gensicki, 860-224-5900, x6507

HCC Corporate Communications
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