UC Davis Experts: Winter Olympics

Liz Applegate, UC Davis.
Liz Applegate, UC Davis.

Athletic nutrition expert Liz Applegate is among UC Davis experts for Winter Olympics.

University of California, Davis
January 22, 2014

University of California, Davis, experts are available for comment on various aspects of the Olympic Games -- from luge and snowboarding safety to Olympic history and nutrition for cold-weather sports. UC Davis facilities can accommodate live or recorded television and ISDN radio interviews for a nominal charge.

Nutrition and cold-weather sports

Nutrition and fitness authority Liz Applegate is director of sports nutrition for Intercollegiate Athletics at UC Davis and can discuss the special nutritional requirements for athletes competing in cold-weather sports. Applegate consulted with Olympic athletes during the 2012 summer games and has published several books, including Nutrition Basics for Better Health and Performance (2011); Bounce Your Body BeautifulThe Encyclopedia of Sports and Fitness Nutrition; and Eat Smart, Play Hard. She has written more than 300 articles for national magazines and has been a nutrition columnist for Runner’s World magazine for the past 28 years. Applegate is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and has also served on the board of directors for the American Council on Exercise. Contact: Liz Applegate, Dept. of Nutrition, cell (530) 304-3933, eaapplegate@ucdavis.edu.


Luge, snowboard safety

The death of a Georgian luge athlete during a training run at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver cast a pall over the games and raised questions about the high-speed sport’s safety. Professor Mont Hubbard, who leads the Sports Biomechanics Laboratory in the UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has used numerical modeling to show how the luge could have been thrown out of the track. Hubbard published the work in a 2013 paper in the journal Sports Engineering, with recommendations for improving ice track safety. Hubbard has also studied the design of terrain park jumps and published several papers recommending changes that he says could reduce the risk of snowboarding and skiing injuries. Students in Hubbard’s laboratory have applied engineering skills to study a wide range of sports, from gymnastics to baseball aerodynamics, including building a bobsled simulator that was used for training the U.S. team for the 1994 Winter Games. More information: http://biosport.ucdavis.edu/. Contact: Mont Hubbard, Sports Biomechanics Laboratory, (530) 752-6450, mhubbard@ucdavis.edu.

Physician for U.S. Alpine Ski Team

James Van den Bogaerde is a physician for the U.S. Alpine Ski Team and specialist in arthroscopic and reconstructive surgery for athletic shoulder, elbow and knee injuries. He also has been a competitive ski racer in the United States. His research focuses on training techniques to help prevent sports injuries and surgical repair techniques that improve outcomes in ligament stability and function. Karen Finney, UC Davis Health System Public Affairs, (916) 734-9064, karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu.

Bias in judged events

Unlike swimming, where the stopwatch is the arbiter, some Olympic events are open to political bias, says UC Davis political science professor John Scott. The professor, who authored a 2007 study of Olympic figure skating results spanning five decades, can also comment on judged Olympic sports. His figure skating research found a persistent and consistent “patriotic” bias among judges toward skaters from their own countries, 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.

Exercise, performance and injuries

UC Davis biomechanics scientist 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 to assist people with musculoskeletal disorders, as well as prevent injury and maximize athletic performance. He can discuss the properties of bone, ligament, tendon, muscle and other biological tissues, including how they respond to exercise and disuse. He is currently testing a technology-based approach for creating customized exercise recommendations for individuals. 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.  

Engineering new tissues

Keith Baar, associate professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior, has advised professional athletes including the United States Track and Field team, U.K. Cycling and the soccer club Chelsea F.C. on training, nutrition and fitness. His laboratory studies the genes and proteins involved in exercise and training, and 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. More information: http://www.fmblab.com/index.html. Contact: Keith Baar, Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, (530) 752-3367, kbaar@ucdavis.edu.

Foot and ankle reconstruction

A former college soccer champion, Eric Giza is now an orthopaedic surgeon who focuses on reconstructing the foot and ankle following sports injuries. His research program is advancing less-invasive, arthroscopic approaches to repairing ligaments and tendons, including the Achilles’ tendon, to reduce time away from training and competition. Contact: Karen Finney, UC Davis Health System Public Affairs, (916) 734-9064, karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu.

Knee and shoulder injuries

Cassandra Lee has been a physician for professional and collegiate athletic teams — including ice hockey teams — and ultramarathon runners. She specializes in diagnosing and managing sports-related knee and shoulder injuries. She is an expert in ligament reconstruction and cartilage preservation techniques for the knee and arthroscopic techniques in shoulder surgery. Her research focuses on regenerative medicine approaches to cartilage and ligament repair. Contact: Karen Finney, UC Davis Health System Public Affairs, (916) 734-9064, karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu.

Treating and preventing sports injuries

Jeffrey Tanji’s medical practice is dedicated to treating and preventing sports injuries. He is a recognized expert on diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound for diagnosing and treating muscle and tendon injuries, as well as diagnosing and managing concussions in youth athletes. He is co-director of the UC Davis Sports Medicine Program. Contact: Karen Finney, UC Davis Health System Public Affairs, (916) 734-9064, karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu.


Paul Salitsky, in his 18th year as a UC Davis lecturer in exercise biology, studies the psychological aspects of sport and exercise and how individuals — from elite athletes to youth participants — can become motivated to focus and achieve their goals. He has coached women’s volleyball at the international, club and NCAA Division I level. Salitsky has conducted more than 500 clinics and workshops on the mental skills needed for performance success. A certified consultant for the Association of Applied Sport Psychology, Salitsky has been listed on the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Sport Psychology Registry since 2000. In 2000, he was selected to join the Sport Psychology Committee for USA Track & Field. He is a senior trainer for the Positive Coaching Alliance and has mentored coaches, parents and leaders in youth sport through more than 150 workshops across the United States. Contact: Paul Salitsky, Exercise Biology, (530) 752-3381, pbsalitsky@ucdavis.edu.

Reputation and negative publicity

Kim Elsbach, a professor of organizational behavior in the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, studies how organizations and their leaders acquire and maintain images, identities and reputations — and how those can be affected by negative publicity. Elsbach who served as UC Davis’ Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA from 2005 to 2010, is 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.

Why athletes dope

Donald Palmer, a professor of management at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management and an expert on organizational wrongdoing, co-authored a recent study of Tour de France athletes who used performance enhancing drugs and why they doped. He can comment about how the study results are applicable to Olympic athletes who are similarly tested, especially those in team sports. Contact: Donald Palmer, Graduate School of Management, (530) 752-8566, dapalmer@ucdavis.edu.

History and sociology

Lecturer Sandy Simpson can comment on history and sociology related to the Olympic Games. He teaches about the Olympics in the course, Sport in American Society, and will be teaching a new course, the Olympic Experience, this spring. The new course will focus on those Games clouded by the political or social issues of their times and to what degree the Games were a platform for the advocates and opponents of such causes. Simpson has taught at UC Davis for 21 years and retired as head coach of the women’s basketball team in 2011 after leading the team for 14 years.  Contact: Sandy Simpson, Physical Education, (530) 574-0803, slsimpson@ucdavis.edu.

History of the Olympics

Marilyn Ramenofsky, a 1964 Olympic medalist, co-teaches a seminar course on the history of the Olympics. An adjunct professor who studies the physiology and ecology of bird migration, she is master advisor for the Animal Behavior Graduate Group and teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses. Ramenofsky was the silver medalist in the 400-meter freestyle swim at the 1964 Olympics and set the world record in that event three times in 1964. Ramenofsky was named to the 1962, ’63 and ’64 AAU All-America Swim Teams. In April 2013, she was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Contact: Marilyn Ramenofsky, Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, mramenofs@ucdavis.edu.

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