Chiropractor Working Toward Olympic Dream

Franklin chiropractor Karina Gurney was selected to volunteer at the Olympic center in Lake Placid, N.Y., working with athletes. Her dream is to be chosen to work at the actual Olympic Games.


Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer 

Franklin chiropractor for 25 years, Karina Gurney, is getting closer to her career goal: To be selected as a certified sports physician for an Olympic Games. In July 2021, she went back to school to obtain the additional 200 classwork hours needed to achieve “Diplomate” status with the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians. Part of the Board’s criteria is 250 field experience hours, and Gurney had an opportunity to attain some of those hours Feb. 12-26 at the U.S Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. 

“By volunteering at the training center, I was able to get more of the hours I need to possibly get invited to work at the 2024 or 2026 games,” said Gurney, who explained that she worked in Lake Placid’s sports medicine clinic with athletes involved in such sports as bobsled, skeleton, biathlon, ice hockey, speed skating, figure skating, snowboarding, and more.  

“I worked with athletes that were going through rehabilitation from injuries … treated muscular/skeletal complaints,” she said. “It’s a multi-medical disciplinary approach at the clinic – body and mind. In fact, it’s really amazing how [the Center] is able to treat all parts of the athletes.” 

Gurney, who has been American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians certified since 1998, has focused her practice on the discipline of sports chiropractic medicine, even though she has treated patients with all sorts of chiropractic related issues. In private practice in Franklin, she treats patients referred to her by orthopedists as well as by athletic trainers/coaches from area schools, including Western Carolina University.

However, she is seeking to step away from her practice at least for a few weeks in the future to make her dream come true.

“I feel blessed in that – after this long in my career – that this goal may be completed. I

put my mind to it, finished necessary classes, reached out to [the U.S. Olympic Committee], and met the required credentials and background checks. The next step is to finish Diplomate certification by passing exams and writing a paper. Once finished I will be a serious candidate for consideration.” 

In the near future, Gurney may be invited back to Lake Placid to achieve additional field experience hours. Working there in February was “exciting, new – such a different type of environment,” she said. “Working with athletes of that caliber was interesting, and all the doctors and staff were so very nice. Plus, the athletes were thankful for getting care.”

One aspect of her time at Lake Placid “was being able to go to the bobsled track and observe them in their training element. It was fast and loud and fascinating.” 

An anniversary focus on what became known as “Miracle on Ice” at the 1980 Winter Olympics was also happening in Lake Placid while Gurney was there. “Miracle on Ice” refers to an ice hockey game played between the hosting United States and the Soviet Union on Feb. 22, 1980; although the Soviet Union was a four-time defending gold medalist, the United States ended up winning 4–3.

“The focus on that event summed up my journey: ‘Never let your memories be bigger than your dreams’,” said Gurney. “My dream of being a chiropractor at the Olympic Games is a personal goal of mine, so I could identify with ‘Miracle on Ice.’”