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Experts on Winter Sports and the Winter Olympics

February 2, 2010

The University of California, Davis, has campus experts available to provide commentary related to the Winter Olympics. For more information, or for topics not listed here, please contact Andy Fell, News Service, (530) 752-4533, ahfell@ucdavis.edu; Patricia Bailey, News Service, (530) 752-9843, pjbailey@ucdavis.edu; David Ong, UC Davis Health System, (916) 734-9049, david.ong@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu; or Jim Sweeney, News Service, (530) 752-6101, jpsweeney@ucdavis.edu.

Winter sports

  • Ski and snowboard injuries
  • Green ski runs
  • Politics in Olympic figure skating scores

Training, conditioning and fitness

  • Training and fitness
  • Biomechanics, movement and injury prevention
  • Nutrition and fitness
  • Psychology of sports and team dynamics

Performance-enhancing substances

  • Dietary supplements
  • Performance-enhancing drugs

Reputation in sports and athletics

  • Sponsorship and athletes' reputation
  • Organizations, athletes and reputation

Winter sports

Ski and snowboard injuries

Maury Hull, a biomechanical engineer at UC Davis, has studied leg injuries related to skiing and snowboarding for more than 20 years. With orthopedic surgeon Steve Howell of Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, he directs the UC Davis "knee lab," which investigates injuries in skiers and boarders. Common sense and knowledge of how injuries occur are important for safety, Hull says. For example, many skiing injuries occur when someone tries to ski out of a fall. Contact: Maury Hull, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, (530) 752-6220, mlhull@ucdavis.edu.

Green ski runs

Building a new ski run by bulldozing a mountainside rather than only cutting its shrubs and trees is far more damaging ecologically, says UC Davis ecologist Jennifer Burt. Her 2009 study in the northern Sierra Nevada range found that ski-slope grading, compared to clearing, is worse for plant abundance and diversity, reduces soil depth and fertility, and promotes erosion. Contact: Jennifer Burt, UC Davis Graduate Group in Ecology, jenniferwburt@gmail.com.

Politics in Olympic figure skating scores

Unlike ski racing or swimming, where the stopwatch is the arbiter, figure skating is open to political bias, says UC Davis political science professor John Scott, who participated in a 2007 study of Olympic figure skating results spanning five decades. The research found a persistent and consistent "patriotic" bias among judges toward skaters from their own country, both during the Cold War and afterward. Overall, Scott found that judges scored skaters from their own countries about five places better than did judges from other nations. Contact: John Scott, Political Science, (530) 752-0972, jtscott@ucdavis.edu.

Training, conditioning and fitness

Training and fitness

Keith Baar, assistant professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis, has advised professional athletic organizations including U.K. Cycling and the soccer club Chelsea F.C. on training and fitness. His laboratory studies the genes and proteins involved in exercise and training. Baar also investigates how to engineer new body tissues to repair damaged tissues, especially tendons and ligaments. Baar began his career as a strength-and-conditioning coach at the University of Michigan, where he became interested in research. He joined UC Davis in July 2009. Contact: Keith Baar, Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, (530) 752-3367, kbaar@ucdavis.edu.

Biomechanics, movement and injury prevention

UC Davis biomechanist David Hawkins studies the mechanisms that influence skeletal muscle performance and human movement. His work at the UC Davis Human Performance Laboratory aims to develop tools and training strategies that can assist people with musculoskeletal disorders, as well as prevent injury and maximize athletic performance. He can talk about the properties of bone, ligament, tendon, muscle and other biological tissues, including how they respond to exercise and disuse. His recent research has focused on muscle-tendon units and strategies to minimize anterior cruciate ligament injuries. Contact: David Hawkins, Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, (530) 752-2748, dahawkins@ucdavis.edu.

Nutrition and fitness

Liz Applegate, a senior lecturer and director of Sports Nutrition at UC Davis, is a nationally known nutrition and fitness authority. Her books include "Bounce Your Body Beautiful," "The Encyclopedia of Sports and Fitness Nutrition" and "Eat Smart, Play Hard." She has written more than 300 articles for national magazines and is nutrition editor and columnist for Runner's World magazine. Applegate serves on the board of the American College of Sports Medicine and as team nutritionist for the Oakland Raiders. Contact: Liz Applegate, Nutrition, (530) 758-6281, eaapplegate@ucdavis.edu.

Psychology of sports and team dynamics

Paul Salitsky, an exercise biology lecturer at UC Davis, has been listed on the U.S. Olympic Committee's Sport Psychology Registry since 2000. Also in 2000, he was selected to join the Sport Psychology Committee for USA Track & Field. Salitsky specializes in sports and exercise psychology, sports sociology and motor learning. A non-Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor, he also conducts research into exercise and mental skills training for cancer patients and survivors. He has coached women's volleyball at the international, club and NCAA Division I levels, and has conducted more than 350 clinics and workshops on the mental skills needed for performance success. Contact: Paul Salitsky, Exercise Biology, (530) 752-3381, pbsalitsky@ucdavis.edu.

Performance-enhancing substances

Dietary supplements

Marlia Braun, a dietitian with the UC Davis Sports Medicine Program, disputes claims that dietary supplements such as androsterone and DHEA can accelerate muscle growth. In addition, Braun notes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration generally does not regulate dietary supplements -- and that the quality and quantity of their active ingredients are not guaranteed. She warns that side effects of the supplements may include acne, male-pattern baldness, unwanted hair growth, irritability, rapid heartbeat and prostate enlargement. Contact: David Ong, UC Davis Health System, (916) 734-9049, david.ong@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu.

Performance-enhancing drugs

James Shaffrath, a lecturer in exercise biology and neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis, can discuss the physical and psychological effects of anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs. Shaffrath co-directs the UC Davis Adult Fitness Program. Contact: Jim Shaffrath, Exercise Biology, (530) 752-0704, jdshaffrath@ucdavis.edu.

Reputation in sports and athletics

Sponsorship and athletes' reputation

Victor Stango, an assistant professor of management, co-authored the recent study of stock losses associated with the Tiger Woods sex scandal and can comment more broadly on sports economics. Contact: Victor Stango, Graduate School of Management, (530) 752-3535, vstango@ucdavis.edu.

Organizations, athletes and reputation

Kim Elsbach, a professor of organizational behavior in the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, studies how organizations, their leaders and individuals acquire and maintain images, identities and reputations -- and how those can be affected by negative publicity. Elsbach represents UC Davis at the Big West Conference and as an appointed delegate to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. A master's swimmer, marathon runner and triathlete, she was a member of the varsity swim team at the University of Iowa. Contact: Kim Elsbach, Graduate School of Management, (530) 752-0910, kdelsbach@ucdavis.edu.

About UC Davis

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 32,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $600 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

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