TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ⎯ With the 2014 Winter Olympics set to begin Friday, Feb. 7, four Florida State University faculty members are available to provide perspective into the training of elite athletes and the threat of terrorism during the Sochi games.


•K. Anders Ericsson, Florida State’s FSCW/Conradi Eminent Scholar of Psychology, Department of Psychology: (850) 644-9860, [email protected]

Ericsson is the world’s leading expert on the topic of expertise — the attainment of expert performance by gradually stretching an individual’s performance through deliberate practice in domains such as music, games and athletics. Ericsson wrote an editorial, “Training history, deliberate practice and elite sports performance: An analysis in response to Tucker and Collins review — what makes champions?” published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, June 2013.

“The discipline required to train on a consistent level so you’re actually changing your body is very impressive,” Ericsson said. “I think that sometimes athletes don’t get credit for this very extended process that I believe is the major factor for explaining where they’re at — the Olympics. By basically claiming that they’re just genetically better than other people, it’s almost like robbing them of the credit they are due for this extended process (of athletic training).”

•Jon E. Jost, director of strength and conditioning, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics: (850) 644-2549, [email protected]

Jost oversees the staff of strength and conditioning coaches who work with Florida State’s student-athletes.

“Everything an athlete does during the four years leading up to the Olympics either increases or decreases their chance to earn a medal,” Jost said. “The amount of sleep they get, what they eat, the number of calories they eat, the hours they train, and the type of training they do all factor into an athlete’s success — it’s definitely a full-time job for the majority of these athletes. They all put in an enormous amount of hours preparing for one competition. We try to help improve their performance and reduce their risk of injury by increasing their lean body mass, developing power, improving their proficiency in movement and strengthening weaknesses.”

•Mark Kasper, director of Florida State’s Institute of Sports Sciences and Medicine: (850) 644-1281, [email protected]

Kasper has a broad research interest in the areas of physical activity/exercise and health/athletic performance, as well as tests and measurements of athletic performance and the validity and reliability of testing methods. The Institute of Sports Sciences and Medicine is a collaboration of the university’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, the College of Human Sciences, the College of Medicine and the Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic to conduct research in sports sciences and medicine, with an emphasis on injury prevention and athletic/human performance.

“All athletes at that elite level are being tested and measured to determine if their programs are working because just a 1 to 2 percent improvement in their performances can really make the difference between a gold medal and not even making it to the finals or past the first round,” Kasper said.


•Audrey Heffron Casserleigh, director of Florida State’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program, (850) 644-9961; [email protected]

Casserleigh is the director of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program at Florida State, where she also serves as director for the Center for Disaster Risk Policy. As center director, Casserleigh manages the intersection of academic research and government practice and has worked on projects with agencies including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The greatest terror threat for the Russian Olympics comes from the Chechen separatist movement, a highly organized and militant Islamic group,” Casserleigh said. “Seeking independence from Federated Russia, the ethnic minority Chechens have systematically attacked Russia in the past and are responsible for the infamous (2004) Beslan School massacre that left over 380 dead.

“The Chechen rebels are famous for their ‘Black Widows,’ an all-female terrorist group who are often widows of men killed in conflict with Russian forces in Chechnya. Less than a month ago the Black Widows were linked to two suicide bombings in the city of Volograd, which resulted in 34 deaths.

“In the years leading up to the Sochi Olympics, the Chechen rebels openly threatened the Games and Russian security for the Olympics is high in response to this ongoing threat.”