The 2002 Winter Olympics kick off Friday night with opening ceremonies in Salt Lake City. There is a U.P. connection to the Games, by virtue of the U.S. Olympic Education Center at Northern Michigan University. It is the first and only center of its kind in the country that gives elite athletes an opportunity to train for world-class competition while continuing their education.
The USOEC offers the following resident-athlete programs: biathlon and short-track speedskating (Winter Games); and boxing and Greco Roman wrestling (Summer Games). There is a possibility that cross country skiing, once a USOEC training program, will be reintroduced to the center.
Here are some brief notes and tips related to the USOEC at NMU that might be of interest as you cover the Winter Olympics:
-Programming Note: WNNW Public TV- 13 will air a documentary about the USOEC at Northern Michigan University. It was produced by a public television station at Central Michigan University. The program is scheduled to air at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10. We would appreciate it if you could include this note in television listings or highlights that you might publish.
-Short-track speedskater Amy Peterson will carry the flag for the U.S. Olympic team during the opening ceremonies. She was a resident athlete at the USOEC in the fall of 1990 and the fall of 1992. This is her fifth Olympic competition.
- Current USOEC residents Allison Baver and Ron Biondo have made the short-track speedskating team and will compete in Salt Lake City. Baver, a marketing major, made the team in December when she finished fifth at the trials in Kearns, Utah. In that competition, she set an America record in the first event - the individual I 000 meter time trial - and finished first. She will skate in the 3000 meter relay at the Olympics. The prelims for her event are on Feb. 16 and the finals on Feb. 20. Biondo finished third in the U.S. trials. He will skate the 5000 meter relay, with the prelims Feb. 13 an the finals Feb. 23.
- Seventy-five percent of the 2002 short-track speedskating Olympic team members are curren fon-ner USOEC athletes. Former residents competing this month include J.P. Kepka, Shani David, Am Peterson, Mary Griglak, Julie Goskowicz and Caroline Hallisey.
- A coach for the U.S. short-track team in Salt Lake City is fon-ner USOEC resident Susan Elli
- The following three members of the 2002 Olympic long-track speedskating team at one time trained on the short track at the USOEC: Kip Carpenter, Marc Pelchat and J.P. Shilling.
- Randy Hill, who graduated from NMU with a degree in exercise science, is an assistant coach with the U.S. Biathlon team and will be on duty in Salt Lake City. Hill was a graduate assistant in the health, physical education and recreation department. After leaving NMU, he began Ph.D. studies in exercise physiology at the University of Utah.
- Two members of the 2002 Olympic biathlon team, Dan Campbell and Kara Salmela, were USOEC residents. Jill Krause, an Olympic alternate, is a current USOEC resident. Biathletes compete in four events: the individual competition, the spring, the pursuit and the relay. All events involve freestyle skiing on a loop course with stops to shoot a target - sometimes in a prone position, sometimes standing up. Athletes are penalized for missed shots with either added time or a penalty loop, depending on the event. Because biathletes tend to peak in the mid- to late-20s, those who attend the USOEC are more likely to make the team after they leave Marquette.
-Three members of the 2002 Olympic cross-country ski team can claim formative years training in Marquette. Lars Flora and Tessa Benoit were USOEC residents. Aelin Peterson skied on NNW's team and graduated in 1996 with an economics degree. She established a career in finance but returned to the sport this year to make a successful bid for the Olympic team. Lindsey Weir, a member of the Olympic team, will eriroll as a freshman at NNW next year.
-The primary force making Marquette a development tank for elite cross country skiers is Sten Fjeldheim, head coach of the ski program at NMU. Born and raised in Norway, Fjeldheim bring to Marquette the passion for cross country skiing that is deeply woven in Norwegian culture. He coordinated a USOEC cross country program in the mid-1990s that fostered the development of several 2002 Olympians. He can be reached at 227-2049.
Editor's/News Director's Note: USOEC media coordinator Jeff Crumbaugh provided most of this information. He can be reached at 227-2854 for more information, or for photos of some of the athletes competing in Salt Lake City. Additional information about the USOEC can be found at w,%vw.nmu.cdu/usoec