Canadian Olympic Freestyle Skier Defies Gravity and a Life-threatening Allergy

    Steve Omischl doesn't let his serious peanut allergy ground him

    TORONTO, JUNE 2 /CNW/ - Canadian Olympian Steve Omischl is a high-flying
freestyle skier with soaring ambitions for 2010. The North Bay, Ontario native
and B.C.-resident recently clinched his fourth World Cup title; however, one
of his biggest challenges off the slopes has been his life-threatening allergy
to peanuts. To raise awareness about severe allergies, Omischl is teaming with
King Pharmaceuticals Canada - the distributors of EpiPen(R) - to let Canadians
know that allergies should be taken seriously, but not to let them stop you
from achieving your dreams. He's also encouraging people at risk for
anaphylaxis to always carry an epinephrine auto-injector - the recommended
first line of treatment for someone experiencing a severe reaction, which can
be fatal in minutes if left untreated.
    Canadians can find out if they are at risk for anaphylaxis by taking
EpiPen's Severe Allergy Risk Test available at
    Omischl was diagnosed as a child after he reacted to a peanut butter
sandwich his mom gave him. Despite his best efforts to avoid peanuts, he's had
a few serious encounters since then, most notably the day before the final
World Cup Freestyle skiing event of the 2007/2008 season in Davos,
Switzerland. A bite of a cheese sandwich that had a trace of peanuts caused a
serious reaction and fortunately, a medical professional was able to provide
assistance. Undeterred, the next day Steve flew twelve metres in the air and
executed three perfect back-flips with four twists, winning the event and the
distinguished title of World Cup Champion.
    "I don't want a peanut allergy to sideline me," said Steve. "I need to be
very careful not to eat anything without reading the label first. When you're
hungry, you usually eat anything, and fast. I can't do that."
    Food is the most common cause of severe allergic reactions. Other common
triggers are insect stings, medicines, and latex.
    "Aside from the event in Switzerland, I have had a few close calls at
dinner parties. It can be tricky when people use different sauces and oils,
which may contain peanuts," explained Omischl. "I have learned the importance
of having my EpiPen with me at all times. Obviously, it could save my life."
    Because Steve is often travelling to far-away places for competitions, he
makes a point of showing new people he is travelling with how to use an
EpiPen, "I also reassure them that's it's not a big deal to use it, it's very
simple - just remove the cap and inject into the mid-outer thigh."
    "Steve's story underscores the importance of how vital it is for people
with severe allergies to carry an epinephrine auto-injector with them wherever
they go," said Mary Allen, Chief Executive Officer of the Allergy/Asthma
Information Association ( "Steve is truly an inspiration to
others, proving that people who have severe allergies can realize their dreams
and live active lives," concluded Allen.
    A 2007 national study revealed that only one in five Canadians at risk
for an anaphylactic attack remember to carry an epinephrine auto-injector with
them at all times.(1)

    About Steve Omischl

    Armed with a strong work ethic that was instilled at a young age, Steve
supported himself while working his way to the top and onto the Canadian
Freestyle Ski team, followed by the Salt Lake City and the Turin Olympic
    Steve has an impressive list of World Cup championship medals, including
10 gold, nine silver, and seven bronze. He is a three-time Canadian Champion
with a steely ambition to represent his home country at the Vancouver 2010
Olympic Winter Games and capture that within-reach Olympic gold medal. Steve
also finds time to inspire audiences by sharing stories of his hard work and
determination with students and corporate audiences. For more information
about Steve, visit

    About EpiPen

    Further information can be found at along with a Severe
Allergy Risk Test to determine your risk of anaphylaxis.

    About King Pharmaceuticals

    King, with offices in Mississauga, Ontario and headquartered in Bristol,
Tennessee, is a vertically integrated branded pharmaceutical company.

    (1) Data collection for this study was conducted via Leger Marketing
        OmniCan and commissioned by King Pharmaceuticals Canada in
        collaboration with Anaphylaxis Canada. Data was collected between
        May 29 and June 3, 2007. A random household selection was achieved by
        inviting residents across Canada over 18 years of age to complete the
        survey. A total of 1,502 interviews were completed. The margin of
        error for a sample of this size is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

For further information:

For further information: or to book an interview with Steve Omischl,
please contact: Saskia Brussaard,, Phone:
(416) 428-3037; Alison Crocker,, Phone: (416)

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