Allergy doesn’t mean you can’t go for gold

Jun 18

I love the stories of people who don’t let thier allergies interfere with life. They make adjustments to the way they live and move on to obtain the goals they strive for. It’s always nice to hear of people achieving what they set out for dispite the issues in front of them.

Steve Omischl of Canada performs during his second jump in the men’s aerial final of the 2009 FIS Freestyle World Championships in Inawashiro on March 4, 2009.

World Cup freestyle ski ace Steve Omischl wants people to know that having a severe allergy doesn’t mean you can’t dream big dreams

Omischl dreams big. He also lives big and jumps big, even though he has had a potentially life-threatening allergy to peanuts since he was a child and carries an epinephrine auto-injector with him wherever he goes.

“The message is that it’s definitely not limiting,” Omischl, who had a scary experience two seasons ago during a World Cup aerials competition in Switzerland, said Tuesday.

“You have to read labels; tell the wait staff at restaurants you have this. Yeah, you need to take precautions, but you don’t need to be paralyzed by it.”

Omischl, 30, has always had to read labels and be particularly careful about what he eats.

And he’s had a couple of scares.

On March 6, 2008 in Davos, Omischl bit into a multi-grain roll that he’d bought at a supermarket. It had been contaminated with a peanut product and he had a serious reaction. Fortunately, the team doctor gave him a shot of epinephrine and the next day Omischl won the final World Cup event of the season.

“I competed the following day and ended up winning the event, but it was a pretty scary situation, almost dying from a peanut reaction,” Omischl said.

“I’ve had [the allergy] my entire life, but it was the first time it ever happened while I was training or competing.”

Omischl doesn’t often discuss his personal life, but the story eventually was written in a health magazine and representatives for King Pharmaceuticals Canada — distributors of EpiPen (R) — contacted him about being a spokesman.

Now he’s encouraging people at risk for an anaphylactic attack always to carry an Epi-Pen and make sure that the people around them are aware of their condition and how to use the device properly.

Omischl has shown his teammates how to use his Epi-Pen.

Two years ago he had a bad reaction while surfing in Costa Rica. Aerials teammate Warren Shouldice was with him when the ambulance attendants arrived.

“It’s a good message for kids and for parents to hear,” Omischl said of his own story.

“If someone has a peanut allergy you just have to take the proper precautions. You have to carry an Epi-Pen, know how to use it and make sure that the people around you know that you have an allergy to peanuts, bee stings, Latex, shellfish — those are the common ones.

“People around you have to know how to use this Epi-Pen if you do have a reaction because it is potentially fatal.”

Omischl won the 2005 world championship and has been the World Cup aerials points leader five times.

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