If you plan to report on the upcoming XX Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, consider the following ideas and experts from the University of Virginia:

From the playing fields of U.Va. to the mountains of Torino : training top athletes
Paul Meier, U.Va. alumnus and head athletic trainer of the U.S. Ski Team
Behind the impressive U.S. men’s alpine ski team competing in the upcoming Olympics is the man who helps them reach and stay in top champion condition — Paul Meier, their athletic trainer.

Meier, who earned his master’s degree in athletic training from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education in 2003, began working with the U.S. Ski Association two years ago after a fellowship at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colo.

The athletes, the entourage of coaches, other staff members and Meier put in “countless hours of training, travel and competitions … and it all comes down to about a two-minute race where first and second place could be determined by .01 seconds,” Meier says.

His biggest concern: a skier suffering a life-threatening injury while going downhill. “Athletes can reach speeds up to 95 miles an hour and accidents do happen,” he says.

While working with U.Va.'s sports medicine program, Meier, who grew up in Clifton Park, N.Y., received a solid foundation and had great experiences, he said, especially working with the football and men's lacrosse teams. “I don't think you can truly appreciate the quality of your education at U.Va. until you have been out on your own working for a few years.”

Contact:  Paul Meier, U.S. (435) 640-8624 or European +43 (676) 700-1804
Add’l assistance:  Anne Bromley, abromley@virginia.edu, (434) 924-6861

Behind-the-scenes operations

Andy Williams, director of event management with U.Va.’s athletics department and former venue operations manager for the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2002
Andy Williams can provide a behind-the-scenes perspective on event management during past Winter Olympic Games. He served as venue operations manager for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2002 at Soldier Hollow, host of the biathlon, cross-country skiing and Nordic combined competitions.  In this role, he managed the coordination of event communication, event services, food and beverage, information services, international client services, logistics, merchandise, signage, sponsor services, sport production, telecommunications, ticketing, and transportation.  He also assisted in the management of three sport programs at Soldier Hollow and built strong relationships with the International Biathlon Union and International Ski Federation; assisted in training and managing approximately 2,200 venue operations staff; and managed the construction, financial strategy and marketing plan for Spectator Plaza, which generated $60,000 over 16 days of the Olympic Games and five days of the Paralympic Games.

Additionally, Williams served as material planner for the 2001 Biathlon World Cup and 2001 International Paralympic Committee Nordic World Cup — a job that included ordering, budgeting, tracking and liquidation of materials required to host the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Contact:  Andy Williams, (434) 982-5022
Add’l assistance:  Rich Murray, rjm4e@virginia.edu, (434) 982-5500

Preventing and treating sports injuries

Ethan Saliba, U.Va.'s head athletic trainer
As the University of Virginia’s assistant athletic director for Sports Medicine and head athletic trainer, Ethan Saliba can talk about the prevention and treatment of athletes' injuries. He says that when it comes to skiing, the knees and shoulders are the areas that usually get hurt.

Contact:  Ethan Saliba, ens@virginia.edu, (434) 982-5451
Add’l assistance:  Anne Bromley, abromley@virginia.edu, (434) 924-6861

To locate expert sources regarding other topics, please contact Kathleen Valenzi, kvalenzi@virginia.edu, (434) 924-6857, or Carolyn Dillard, cdillard@virginia.edu, (434) 982-3030