Biathlon Team Doctor Says Skiing Integral to Dartmouth

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U.S. Biathlon team physician Ed Merrens ’88, MED ’94, MHCDS ’12, will more likely be out skiing with a wax technician to determine course conditions before a race than tending to medical emergencies at the Sochi Olympic Games.

Ed Merrens

Ed Merrens ’88, MED ’94, MHCDS ’12 is the chief medical officer at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the U.S. Biathlon team physician. (Photo by Mark Washburn)

“I would not do this job if it meant sitting around waiting for someone to get sick,” says Merrens, chief medical officer at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and a team veteran of the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah; Torino, Italy; and Vancouver, Canada.

U.S. biathlon team physician Ed Merrens ’88, MED ’94, MHCDS ’12 is one of eight Dartmouth alumni who will be living at the Laura Center during the Sochi Olympic Games.

The others are: biathlon team members Hannah Dreissigacker ’09, Thayer ’10; Susan Dunklee ’08; and Sara Studebaker ’07; U.S. cross-country team members Sophie Caldwell ’12 and Ida Sargent ’11; cross-country team head coach Chris Grover ’93; and U.S. biathlon team president and CEO Max Cobb ’87, who is also a technical delegate for the venue as a member of the International Biathlon Union.

“I skied for Dartmouth, I’ve been active with skiing for the past 25 years, and involved in the sport competing, training, and coaching. I will bring that all to bear when I arrive in Sochi,” he says.

Merrens will also run the U.S. team’s medical clinic at the Nordic venue during the games. The cross-country and biathlon complex is 85 kilometers outside Sochi, and is accessible only by gondola. Merrens has physical therapists and trainers on staff, but spends most of his time supporting the team in other ways.

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“I’m skiing most days, and I’m on the course for every race with a spare pole, a spare ski, radioing in times,” he says. “Dawn to dusk, I’m an integral part of our coaching, technical, and training staff, and if anything goes wrong medically, I’m there for that too.”

Unlike the Vancouver games, where the alpine and Nordic ski teams were together in a single, larger venue, the Laura Cross-country Ski and Biathlon Center in Sochi is more remote, he says. But the Dartmouth graduate says he won’t feel isolated. Merrens will be joined on the mountain by seven other Dartmouth alumni and a number of skiers from the Upper Valley.

“The thing I took from Dartmouth is that skiing is a way of life,” Merrens says. “Those of us who experienced this embody it as a way to stay active, stay healthy, and stay engaged.”

Merrens will be blogging for Dartmouth from the Sochi Winter Games and will post to Twitter (@emerrens) and Instagram with the hashtag #DartmouthSochi.