The next stop for Lauren Borowski after her unlikely pirouette from aspiring dancer to doctor: The Beijing Winter Olympics.
Borowski is off for China as the head doctor for the U.S. Ski Jumping team, and she’s just as thrilled as any of the athletes under her care as Friday’s Opening Ceremony looms inside the National Stadium.
“I am very excited,” she told the Daily News. “I’m getting antsy, like a kid waiting for Christmas. I jumped at the chance to do this.”
Borowski, 35, was a freshman dance student in the NYU Tisch School of Arts when she decided to instead pursue a career in medicine ― initially to treat the various injuries suffered by her fellow performers.
The daughter of two doctors switched to sports medicine before landing her job with the ski jumpers, first traveling with the men’s team to Italy in January 2020. But the Olympics, she said, are something else entirely.
““I’m so excited just to see all the different countries represented, so many different people,” she said. “This is people from all around the world, this is a whole different level. The Olympic Village with all the skiers. I’m excited.”
Borowski had the chance to meet with the U.S. team at a pair of “sports science camps” last June and November, with two of the Olympians giving the doctor an early medal for her work with the team.
“For sure,” said two-time Olympian Kevin Bickner, 25, of Wauconda, Ill., “She’s totally dialed in with all the emails and COVID. Honestly, that’s good to have in your back pocket, to know you’re not missing anything.”
Borowski’s presence gives the team members one less thing to worry about, said 23-year-old jumper Casey Larson of Barrington, Ill.
“We’ve know her for over a year now,” he said. “She makes us feel that we’re her first priority.”
Borowski, while well aware of the impact COVID-19 will have on the second Olympiad of the pandemic, is ready for whatever lurks ahead in China.
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“From what I hear, obviously these are going to be a very different Games,” said Borowski, a sports health expert in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone. “Lots of protocol stuff every day. I’m getting no less than 7 to 10 emails a day, ‘You need to do x,y and z.’ I will be curious to see what the venues look like, how many people are there.”
The 2022 Winter Olympics mark the second time the world’s finest athletes will gather during the pandemic, following the delayed 2020 Summer Games. Despite all the attendant paperwork, pressure and protocols, Borowski remains eager to see her athletes in action.
“Part of our mission and vision was to create an amazing program to insure they’re at the top of their abilities,” she said. “By figuring things out from our data, we can find the best ways to improve their performances.
NYU-Langone began its partnership with the U.S. Olympic team in 2020, with an eye toward the Beijing games even as the ongoing pandemic limited in-person contact. The China trip is the culmination of her efforts for Borowski.
The mother of two said the only downside of her trip of a lifetime was leaving her two kids back home, a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old.
“I’m already having separation anxiety,” she said. “It’s going to be really hard.”