HK students get inside look at top Olympic facilities

A group of graduate students in kinesiology recently got an inside look at the highly secretive facilities used to train top U.S. Olympic athletes.

“They’re fairly guarded about who they allow at their training centres,” said Michael Ayotte, a master’s student in sport management who recently travelled to the Olympic Training Centre in Lake Placid, New York.

Organized by professor Scott Martyn for his Olympic History class, the trip saw five grad students and four faculty members travel to both Montreal and Lake Placid to visit facilities historic Olympic venues, as well as some that are currently used.

“We had a great time,” Ayotte said. “We got to meet a lot of interesting people and see some very cool things. It was just a phenomenal experience.”

One of the people they met in Montreal was Richard Pound, a lawyer and former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency. The group also met with WADA’s manager of program development before heading out for a behind-the-scene tour of Montreal’s Olympic Park.

The next day they headed out for Lake Placid – which hosted the Games in 1932 and 1980 – where they toured the Winter Olympic Museum, and visited numerous Olympic sites around town, including the ski jump, the bobsled track, downhill and cross country skiing facilities and the Herb Brooks ice hockey arena.

The group was given a tour of those venues by one of the two remaining members of the 1980 organizing committee. Jim Rogers spent the entire day with the group, sharing his knowledge and answering all their questions. At the hockey rink, Rogers took the group to the seats in the venue’s top corner, set the scene of the historical game between the USA and USSR and then played a video of the last two minutes of the match, forever known as the “Miracle on Ice.” 

The group made a little history of its own by becoming the first university ever to actually reside at the Lake Placid training centre. They heard from the operations manager of the United States Olympic Committee, as well as Brad DeWeese, the USOC’s head physiologist, who showcased much of the world-class equipment used to train top athletes in the U.S. prior to national and international competition.

“This trip really provided us with valuable knowledge concerning many facets of past Olympic Games and of the Olympic Movement in general,” said grad student Andrew Bakos. “It also gave us the opportunity to meet a number of prominent figures within the Olympic movement that we wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to meet.”

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