Sara Donatello
MSU Physiology Team at the Lake Placid Olympic and Paralympic Training Center

MSU Physiology Students Conduct U.S. Biathlon National Team VO2 Max Tests in Lake Placid

Lake Placid, NY – Three Montana State University Physiology students and their professor traveled to Lake Placid this week to conduct VO2 Max tests on U.S. Biathlon’s National Team and Project X athletes. The testing took place at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center over the course of four days during the Lake Placid Training Camp. 

Ashlyn Baird, Master’s student in the Neuromuscular Biomechanics Laboratory at MSU, manned the treadmill speed and incline, Tim Cobb, MSU Undergraduate, performed the lactate tests, and Riley Hagger, MSU Undergraduate, was in charge of athlete safety during the tests. The students were accompanied by James Becker, Professor of Kinesiology and Biomechanics and PI of Neuromuscular Biomechanics at MSU. As team captain, Becker collected force data, IMU data, HR, and VO2 Max.  

“MSU has a small grant program for innovative projects, things that combine research with service, with educational opportunities, so that was able to fund our trip out here,” said James Becker. “Certainly for the students, the hands-on experience, being at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center with some of the best athletes in the world, you don’t get to do that very often.” 

Conducting a VO2 Max test takes approximately one hour and forty-five minutes, per athlete, from start to finish. Step one is measuring weight and height, to normalize the data, before taking a pre-lactate test to note the athlete’s resting rate. After the athlete is hooked up to the monitors, the skate skis are on and the test begins. The test starts relatively easy and increases either speed or grade every few minutes until the athlete reaches their max and can’t continue.    

“Biathletes are definitely the most precise athletes I’ve ever met, by far, it’s crazy,” said Ashlyn Baird. “They get out there and they pay attention to every little detail, so it’s cool knowing what we’re doing, the data is going to be used. It’s very clear that they’ve all been training really hard because these are some high numbers, which is really cool to see.”

“What’s really exciting about having the Montana State researchers come here to the Training Center to work with us is that we haven’t had anything long term that is a sustainable way for us to track our progression in physiology,” said Jake Brown, U.S. Biathlon National Team athlete. “This is the beginning of hopefully a new partnership and we can do this test every year and get a check-in on our fitness, and this is the first time we’ve had that.” 


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