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Athletes will be monitored by cameras and computers

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You won't notice it during the games - but behind the scenes - many, many cameras and computers will be watching and analyzing every move the athletes make.

Researchers then pass that data on to the coaches and trainers - and the athletes themselves, helping them increase speed and performance.

At the Orthopedic Specialty Hospital's Human Performance Lab in Murray - Juan Johnson stands ready as researchers place wireless sensors on joints and muscles. The treadmill fires up and he steps in motion.

The payoff really comes in motion analysis labs like this one. Researchers can literally disect every movement - exactly what the athlete is doing during competition.

An arena of sophisticated cameras document the movements from almost every angle. Computers pick up signals from his sensors. In a simple treadmill exercise like this the system may produce nothing more than a baseline which can be used in actual competition to trace incredible speeds, twists, turns and dives with impecable accuracy.

At ski venues - at the oval - cameras will be there too. Later, back at the labs, the system fills in simple stick figures with muscles and joints. Colors change as each muscle fires - then relaxes.

This is the kind of science Olympic athletes look at now - along with their trainers and coaches.

"Their whole training regime - the way they create their programs - the way they formulate their progression for their athletes is all based upon the science part now," said Roger Petersen, sports science researcher.

U.S. Olympic teams have been using a whole bunch of new gadgets in this lab to prepare for the Salt Lake games. Even outdoors - in-between world class races - they've hooked up and wired up. This test three years ago measured motion and forces at the hip, knee and ankle joints. Perhaps skis and boots need modifications to re-direct or relieve forces on the joints which sometimes reach 4 g's.

This treadmill is one of few in the world which duplicates exactly what happens as bobsledders push off and jump in during competition.

One of the newest techniques is what is called sea-level training. Athletes suck in supplemental mixtures of oxygen to duplicate their sea level native homes. Without this kind of training - they recover slower in between events. They need additional rest time - which they often cannot afford to take.

Becky Sundstrom, U.S. Olympic speedskater, said, "When we are training at altitude day after day after day, it takes even when you address it - even when you're acclamated - it takes a greater toll on your body than if we were doing exactly the same training at sea level."

Heated competition now requires this new partnership. Both Utah and international researchers will in these games - as they have before - work with coaches, trainers and athletes to maximize performance, endurance and speed even more - while at the same time, reducing the risk of injury.

During Salt Lake's Olympics - some of this performance data will be gathered at venues in real-time and passed back to coaches and athletes - even as the games continue.