– We see a huge interest in combining sports at the highest level with studies. The university has close to 100 different educational programs and we operate in a very strong sports region, so the conditions are very favorable, says Joakim Abrahamsson, operational manager for elite sports at Luleå University of Technology and former national cross-country team manager.
Since the autumn of 2020, Luleå University of Technology has the status as elite sports-friendly university, which is now being extended by the Swedish Sports Federation. Being an elite sports-friendly university means a commitment to support and make it easier for elite sports students to invest in dual careers - studies and sports. This applies regardless of sport, as long as it is part of one of the Swedish Sports Federation's 72 special sports federations.
Several at national team level
Luleå University of Technology makes a special investment in cross-country skiing, biathlon and ski orienteering - but currently has as many as 35 students who practice ten sports at the highest level.
Among the students are national team players in basketball and ice hockey, promising skiers (downhill and cross-country), ski orienteers, biathletes, sailors and a recent European Championship medalist in team gymnastics.
– We also have students combining distance educations with playing volleyball and handball in leagues abroad, says Joakim Abrahamsson, who also coaches the ski students.
Their training sessions are located to the fine facilities in Luleå, Piteå, Kiruna and Boden. The students have also been to camps with Piteå Elit ski team, which has several skiers at national team level. The university also regularly invites sports high schools to joint practices.
– We have excellent training conditions and it is very rewarding with exchanges. We also see how important it is for our students not to be alone in their venture, but part of a community and a context where practitioners of different sports can meet and train together. It lifts them, says Joakim Abrahamsson.
Benefit of research conducted
The elite sports activities at student level benefit from the research that is going on at the university in collaboration with the Swedish Olympic Committee and the national wax teams in biathlon and cross-country skiing. The research takes place in three main areas: performance technology, performance analysis and material optimization. SOK's head of research and development H-C Holmberg, the world's most merited ski researcher, is also affiliated with Luleå University of Technology as an adjunct professor of physiotherapy.
The university's vice-chancellor Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn states that the university plays an increasingly important role in the field of sports.
– We have outstanding research in, among other things, tribology and the experience and knowledge will be very useful, for example in terms of friction and development of materials in sports. Working interdisciplinary is a sign for Luleå University of Technology. It is very rewarding to see what benefit we have from it in the field of sports, both in terms of research and for the students.