Vail doctor is head physician for Nordic Worlds |

Vail doctor is head physician for Nordic Worlds

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily Vail, Colorado cardiologist Larry Gaul works at a ski jumping competition at Whistler, British Columbia. Gaul is currently in Liberec, Czech Republic serving as the head physician at the Nordic World Skiing Championships. Gaul is the first doctor from the United States to be in the position.

VAIL, Colorado ” A Vail, Colorado cardiologist will be the first American doctor to serve as medical supervisor of the Nordic World Skiing Championships in the Czech Republic this month.

Larry Gaul, a doctor at Avanti Cardiology and vice president of medical staff at Vail Valley Medical Center, left for the Czech Republic last Saturday to inspect hospital facilities that will serve the athletes, review emergency plans, evacuation plans and ambulances in advance of competition, and meet with race directors.

The championships, which run from Feb. 18 to Mar. 1, include competitions in cross country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined, a mix of cross country skiing and ski jumping. About 200 competitors from more than 20 countries will be competing

Gaul, who has done work in endurance sports medicine, has been the team physician for the U.S. Nordic Skiing Team for several years, a position he was encouraged to take after his sons began to compete in Nordic skiing.

“People don’t always realize it, but since Nordic skiing includes ski jumping, there is the chance for some pretty catastrophic injury,” Gaul said. “In addition, we must also be prepared to deal with more common issues such as the flu and the common cold.”

Team physicians also must know how to treat athletes in ways that are within the guidelines of anti-doping standards and help ensure everything from proper nutrition to first-response in the case of trauma.

This year, however, he won’t be working directly with athletes. Instead, he’ll oversee all the medical equipment, facilities and procedures, which may not always be of the same quality in every country.

“(My role) includes ensuring medical facilities and safety procedures are up to par with International Ski Federation (FIS) standards,” he said.

Gaul began Nordic skiing in 1974 after moving to Vail.

He liked it better than alpine resort skiing, and he found that the sport gave him the opportunity to go places and see things that he wouldn’t experience at a ski resort.

Gaul is also medical director for the Medical Emergencies in Ski and Snowboarding Course. The yearly course is held at Beaver Creek and helps educate doctors who travel with the U.S. Ski Team.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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