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Professional freeskier Tom Wallisch selects AHN Sports Performance Program to train for return to skiing and inspire young athletes

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Chartiers Valley Native Hopes to Drive More Area Youth to the Sport

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Tom Wallisch, Pittsburgh native from Chartiers Valley and professional freeskier, has selected Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) Sports Performance Program to prepare for his return to skiing with goals of establishing outreach efforts to area youth, after sustaining an ACL injury to his right knee.

Following surgery and initial rehabilitation in Salt Lake City, Utah, where Wallisch is based, he will complete a comprehensive sports performance and athletic rehabilitation program under the direction of Frank Velasquez Jr., ATC, CSCS, Director, AHN Sports Performance, at the AHN Sports Complex at Cool Springs in Bethel Park. Wallisch intends to make a full return to skiing in October of this year.

A 2011-2015 U.S. Ski Team competitor, Wallisch holds the world record for longest rail slide at 424 feet. He is also a two-time X Games gold medalist, 2013 FIS World Champion, 2012 Dew Tour winner, the 2014 ESPN Action Sport Athlete of the Year, and a two-time top AFP-ranked slopestyle skier.

“We are thrilled to be able work with Tom who is not only a highly accomplished professional athlete, but an overall outstanding individual,” said Velasquez. “We look forward to helping him get back to his optimal performance level so that he can further extend his already remarkable career in skiing.”

Wallisch will train under Velasquez according to an individualized strength and conditioning program that includes sport-specific drills, high-intensity exercises, thorough recovery regimens, and more. He will have access to the most advanced equipment available in the country, including a cryotherapy unit, an Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill, the Dynavision Reaction Board visumotor-training system (designed to improve reaction times), and the Makoto Functional Arena (a 360-degree, multi-planar simulator that provides a close approximation to real-time sports).

When in Salt Lake City, Wallisch will continue to train according to his AHN-prescribed program and with regular touchpoints with Velasquez, who is a certified athletic trainer and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Velasquez has more than 25 years of experience working with youth, high school, college and professional athletes, including 16 years in professional baseball and nine years with the Pittsburgh Pirates as their Head Strength & Conditioning Coach.

“I’ve worked with many physical therapists throughout my career, and the expertise of Frank and the Allegheny Health Network Sports Performance staff is unparalleled in regard to helping athletes return to play at their highest level. Having specialized resources and a trainer who truly understands your specific sport and individual needs is so invaluable not just for professional athletes, but for athletes at all levels,” said Wallisch. 

In addition to his goal of returning to skiing, Wallisch hopes to host regional skiing clinics and to become a model for the area’s youth. On November 10, Wallisch and AHN will participate in a ski clinic at Seven Springs Mountain Resort which will feature season readiness training, injury prevention education, and more. Additional details will be announced this fall.

“Coming from an area that isn’t known for producing competitive skiers, I’m extremely passionate about inspiring kids in the Pittsburgh region to pursue the sport,” said Wallisch. “I’m excited to establish roots and partnerships in this region, and explore ways in which AHN and I, together, can drive interest in skiing, as well as raise awareness of injury prevention and the value of individualized sports performance training.”

Under the leadership of Patrick DeMeo, MD, Chair of AHN’s Orthopaedic Institute, AHN’s sports medicine program offers advanced, individualized strength training, physical therapy, sports medicine sports nutrition and advanced recovery for developing youths, performing athletes and active adults. These programs follow evidence-based, scientifically proven practices, industry-leading protocols and are supported by highly advanced technologies. AHN is the official medical provider of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Gannon University, the Community College of Allegheny County, and 19 Pittsburgh-area high school athletic programs. The Network is also one of the few select healthcare providers in the country designated as an official US Olympic Regional Medical Center.