Former Duluth athlete will be a physical therapist at Winter OlympicsAna Jeronimus-Robinson won’t be bringing a medal home from Sochi, Russia, but she and her colleagues are the ones who often make it possible for others to do so.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
Ana Jeronimus-Robinson won’t be bringing a medal home from Sochi, Russia, but she and her colleagues are the ones who often make it possible for others to do so.
The Duluth East and St. Scholastica graduate will serve as a physical therapist on the U.S. men’s and women’s cross country ski teams that begin competition next week at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Jeronimus-Robinson, 31, has worked the past eight years as an orthopedic sports medicine physical therapist for the Howard Head Sports Medicine Clinic in Vail, Colo. She had her first experience treating world-class skiers at a weeklong event last year in Canmore, Alberta, which led to her being chosen for Sochi.
“It was a chance for athletes to try out my skills and see if it was what they needed, and an opportunity for me to determine what it was like,” she said. “It’s a totally different way to practice physical therapy. I think at the end of the week we found it was a great fit for me and, thankfully, it was a great fit for them.”
U.S. coach Chris Grover called Jeronimus-Robinson last August to ask her to join the team.
Jeronimus-Robinson traveled with the squad to World Cup events in Finland and Norway this winter, allowing her to get to know the athletes and how the competitions work.
“It helps that I know them,” she said. “It takes a little time to get to know somebody 1-on-1 and have a relationship with them where you can have an open conversation. That’s been a really positive experience.”
She used to be on the other end of the relationship. Ana Jeronimus was a member of two East Nordic state champion teams and finished second and fourth individually at the state meet.
“It’s a fond memory, and I’m still very close to my teammates to this day,” said Jeronimus-Robinson, whose parents, Pete and Mary, younger brother Max and extended family members still live in Duluth.
She went on to play soccer at St. Scholastica, which did not have a Nordic program at that time. While there, she entered the school’s physical therapy program and, as a senior, shadowed Jena Ogston, a professor in the physical therapy program, at a national cross country meet in West Yellowstone, Mont.
“That gave me an interest to do that kind of work once I graduated,” she said.
Jeronimus-Robinson still does quite a bit of recreational skiing, including the American Birkebeiner in Hayward and on the World Cup courses that she recently visited. Having the knowledge of what aches and pains skiers endure helps in her job.
“That’s why I connected so well with them,” she said. “Having a concept of how much it takes to be where they are and to have an understanding of the tremendous amount of time they put in is really helpful.”
If Sochi goes off without a hitch, Jeronimus-Robinson says she would consider future trips with the U.S. team, including the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.
“It’s a very fun and rewarding type of work, and something the athletes deserve to have available to them,” she said. “It’s an honor to work with them.”
The Olympics isn’t the only big event in Jeronimus-Robinson’s life. She recently married Duncan Robinson, a member of the Vail Mountain ski patrol, and the huge Denver Broncos fan is pulling for her team to win the Super Bowl. That game, however, is at the same time Sunday as she will be traveling to Sochi.
“I’m hoping for some access (to the game) on the plane,” she said.