Mayo Clinic doctor heads to Beijing Games, hospital’s history with Olympics runs deep

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 7:23 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – A Rochester local is headed to Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, but not as a player. Orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Stuart starts his trek to China Sunday morning as a physician for Team USA.

“I’m just anxious to get there, and once we get there the fun will start,” Stuart said.

Stuart will work specifically with the men’s ice hockey team; working with the hockey athletics trainers, attending practices and keeping the team healthy and ready for competition.

“We have a young team... We have 15 college players,” he said. “I think they are going to be hungry. They are very skilled. It’s going to be a fast team and the goal is that we are going to be hard to play against. It should be fun to see the team come together and compete on the world stage.”

This is Stuart’s fourth run with Team USA.

“I was fortunate enough to be in Vancouver when we won a silver medal. Lost to Canada in overtime in a gold medal game,” Stuart said. “Then again, in Sochi, when we beat the Russian in a shoot out in front of their home crowd. I’m looking forward to another opportunity to be a part of the Winter Games.”

But Stuart isn’t the only Mayo Clinic doctor to take on the prestigious honor. The history of Mayo Clinic representation runs deep. Back in the 1980s, former Mayo Clinic administrator Robert Fleming was part of the ‘Miracle on Ice’ team.

Sometimes doctors head there to work with a specific sport or team, like Stuart, and other times, as a general physician treating a variety of athletes at the world’s stage.

“It’s neat to have your expertise utilized on the world stage,” Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Dr. Edward Laskowski said.

Laskowski attended the Salt Lake City, Atlanta and Summer Beijing Games. During his time there, he worked in the Olympic Polyclinic.

“It’s been a blessing to work in the Olympic Village,” Laskowski said. “In the Olympics, sometimes you have a physician who will go with a specific team, like Dr. Stuart will go with the hockey team. But I’ve worked in the Olympic Polyclinic, where we see athletes from all countries. It’s very fulfilling. As we know, the medical care in some countries is not as consistent as it is here in the United States. I saw people who didn’t have injuries tended to in many months. The medical care in the Polyclinic was all free. It feels like you are making an impact.”

No matter what the role, both Laskowski and Stuart agree that people from all over the world coming together with a common goal, creates an impact.

“Everyone is there to meet one another, compete with one another. It’s all about unity and a lot of the things that divide us go away when you have a common goal,” Laskowski said.

“It’s fun to work with other health care professionals. It’s fun to be a part of a team. At Mayo Clinic, we have an exceptional team, our orthopedic and sports medicine team, which I am fortunate to be a part of,” Stuart said. “Sports is similar. Really the coaches, the players, equipment managers, doctors, all come together to pitch in and help out.”

The U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team start playing Feb. 10. They’ll play against host China in the first preliminary round game.

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