York U experts available on 2018 Winter Olympics and impact of high-performance sports


TORONTO, February 21, 2018 – The XXIII Olympic Winter Games continue this week in PyeongChang, with athletes taking part in 15 sport disciplines and the greatest number of women’s and mixed events in the history of the Olympic Winter Games.

York University has a number of Faculty of Health experts who are available to speak about high-performance and elite sports-related topics including gender issues in Olympic sport, doping in sport from a sociocultural perspective, risk-taking in sport and the physical, social and psychological impacts of Olympic sport.

Parissa Safai is Associate Professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health. She is available to comment on the socio-cultural study of risk and risk-taking in sport. Her research focuses on cultures of risk, pain and injury, as well as the social determinants of athletes’ health, and the social organization of sport medicine in Canada.

She can provide insight on the lived experiences of high performance athletes around pain and injury and how the material conditions of high performance athletes’ lives impact their health and well-being.

She can speak about:

  • Health and high-performance sport from a sociological perspective (e.g., why Olympians play with pain)
  • Risk-taking in elite sport
  • Culture of risk and culture of fear in sport.
  • Issues of gender and Olympic sport
  • Politics and sport
  • Doping in sport from a socio-cultural perspective

Joe Baker is Professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health, in the Lifespan Health and Performance Laboratory at York University. He is available to comment on cognition in sport and sports psychology. His research examines the acquisition and maintenance of skill performance across the lifespan, particularly how models of athletic performance can help understand the limits of human potential.  He has worked extensively with both able-bodied athletes and athletes with a disability and is a world-leading authority on athlete development.

He can speak about:

  • athlete development
  • sport psychology (e.g., stress and performance)
  • talent identification when it comes to elite sports

Jessica Fraser-Thomas is Associate Professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science in the Faculty of Health. Her research focuses on children's involvement in organized sport; specifically, parents and coaches' roles in children's sport and development trajectories, dropout from sport, and positive development through sport.  Currently she is working on projects exploring preschoolers' introductions to organized sport, and characteristics of programs that may facilitate development within special populations and communities. Her research also looks at how children's learning and development can be fostered through the games.   She is a member of the LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research and the PYD SportNET research group.  She co-edited Health and Elite Sport: Is High Performance Sport a Healthy Pursuit? (2015).

She can speak about:

  • youth experiences in high performance sports
  • anxiety/coping and sport development trajectories

David Hood is Canada Research Chair in Cell Physiology, a professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science and Department of Biology, and director of York University’s Muscle Health Research Centre. His research includes a focus on skeletal muscle and heart biochemistry and molecular biology; mitochondrial adaptations in muscle subject to chronic contractile activity, including mechanisms of mitochondrial protein import and nuclear gene expression; cardiac muscle adaptations to thyroid hormone.

He can speak about

  • Exercise physiology
  • Health and high-performance sports/athletes; impact on body

NOTE: York University’s media studio is available for double-ended broadcast interviews.

Media contact: Anjum Nayyar, York University Media Relations, 416 736 2100 ext. 44543 anayyar@yorku.ca

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