PRESQUE ISLE – University students may gain valuable experience in working with high-caliber athletes as a result of an agreement signed Monday with the Maine Winter Sport Center.
The agreement, signed with the University of Maine at Presque Isle, will allow physiology faculty members and students to conduct assessments on athletes training at the sports center.
“We help tailor the training program for the individual skier and track their process,” said Sue Beaudette, an exercise physiologist who teaches at UMPI.
The sports center, which runs various cross country and alpine ski areas in Aroostook County, is gearing up for world-class competition in both cross country and biathlon.
The center is working with several high school- and college-age athletes in training, some of whom may be heading for Olympic competition.
Without the three-year contract between the center and the university, the closest facility for such assessments is in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Last year, when the sports center held national and international competitions at its Fort Kent facility, UMPI students provided athletic training services.
“It’s an educational opportunity … to expose our students to athletes of that caliber,” said Tim Speicher, the university’s director of athletic training programs.
According to Max Saenger, director of the sports center, the physiological assessments are an important part of the center’s programming.
“It solidifies the Maine Winter Sport Center’s position as a facility that can provide top-quality training for the athlete,” Saenger said.
Athletes are tested for how well their bodies use oxygen as they work out on a treadmill.
In addition, a blood test also is taken to determine the level of lactate produced by muscles when they are deprived of oxygen. This test determined what type of shape a person is in, Saenger explained.
Twenty-three UMPI students will be involved in the program, according to Speicher.
As part of the deal, UMPI faculty and students will evaluate sports injuries and coordinate the athletic training services of the competitive events hosted by the sports center.
UMPI faculty also will travel with athletes to away competitions and cover practices and other special events.
To pay for any traveling and off-site coverage, the center will pay $2,500, according to the agreement.