Hi, I’m Arianna and my placement is based at the Winter Sports Research centre in Östersund, Sweden! I believe my placement is quite unique so I thought I would offer some further insight on what my day to day life looks like here!
My main role is assisting the testing of athletes that come to the centre. Some athletes are recreational, however, the majority are national level cross country and biathletes, so I have had the privilege of meeting some very talented individuals. We mainly run submax and max tests, informing the athletes of their VO2max and their general fitness levels at that point in time. This helps the athlete understand how their training is going and where the stand for the upcoming season. Most of the athletes we test have been coming for many, many years, so we can compare their previous results with the current test, making the results more meaningful.
During the testing period my days are very similar, we often have a full day of testing, which is between 3 and 4 athletes, and my role is to ensure everything is prepped and ready (calibrating the equipment, setting up the lab, and making sure we have everything we are going to need during the test), and also to assist the test leader during the test, taking measurements and ensuring the athlete is as comfortable as possible. Basically I just need to make sure the days run smoothly, they can often be quite long, but I have learnt a lot about the sports, the equipment and also the data processing that goes on behind the tests. Not only this but it has also shown me how dedicated these athletes are to their sports and also how an elite sporting environment operates!
Once the skiing season starts, it gets a LOT quieter and my days are more varied. For example, last week I did a submax and max test myself and also a brutal cycling test to provide data for various projects. There are also many research projects in the works so I have been helping with things like pilot testing and doing my own research into those specific areas to increase my knowledge before the projects begin!
The most exciting part of my day to day life here in Sweden has got to be the snow! It arrived at the beginning of November and it is here to stay, with more coming every week! In England, snow is a rarity and it causes havoc whenever it does come, however no one bats an eyelid here, they just put their winter car tyres on and are ready to go!
With the snow comes winter sports – another thing that’s quite rare in England! I am a BIG alpine skiing lover, which is one of the reasons I applied for this placement. Unfortunately I have not been alpine skiing (yet), but I have tried cross country skiing for the first time, and let me tell you, it is not for the faint hearted! It requires endurance, coordination and a lot of persistence – especially when going uphill, but despite all of this it is actually quite fun and I have been enjoying learning a new sport. The only down side to the snow is the cold. It’s been around -12 here for the past two weeks so anytime you go anywhere you have to wrap up like you’re going to the North Pole!
Apart from getting involved in the winter sports, the rest of my free time looks pretty normal, lots of gymming, spending time with friends and just trying to keep warm most of the time!
I hope you enjoyed that little insight into my life here in Östersund! It’s fair to say I’m really enjoying myself and can’t believe it’s almost time to go home for Christmas, time flies!