2016 was a memorable year in the world of sport. The 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games were the major highlight and there were exciting performances in winter sport too – keeping us hungry for more leading into the next Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2018.
Although there were many great stories to choose from, below are a selection of human interest and performance stories coming out of CSI Calgary:
5. Mike Sametz: Young Upstart Para-cyclist Wins Bronze in Rio
In a Paralympic sport typically dominated by older athletes in their thirties and even forties, this 20-year old cyclist has risen through the ranks quickly, winning a bronze in the Individual Time Trial at the 2016 Paralympic Games. His first international podium result came at the 2015 ParaPan Am Games with a silver medal, which led to his first ever World Cup medal, a bronze at a 2016 World Cup in Belgium.
4. Tara Whitten Overcomes All Odds with an Amazing Recovery and Performance in Rio
After a serious and bizarre crash on her bike during a ride in Rio at a training camp in March, Whitten made a remarkable recovery from a concussion and a broken bone in her neck. Whitten was able to train on an adapted bike, designed and built by a CSI Calgary exercise physiologist allowing her to ride in an upright position to protect her neck. Over a 10-week period Whitten was able to build up her endurance enabling her to compete successfully one week after her brace came off. Several weeks later she dominated the National Championships and qualified for Rio. Whitten placed 7th in the Individual Time Trial – a fantastic result by an athlete who persevered through injury with fierce determination.
3. Ivanie Blondin: Mass Start Star
Blondin originally started out in short track speed skating, honing her ability to skate in a pack. This experience has served her well in a new long track speed skating event that is now on the Olympic program – the Mass start. She beat her Dutch rival, Irene Schouten, at the World Single Distance Championships, bringing home the gold medal. Blondin is skating successfully again this fall, with two gold and a silver to date in the ladies Mass start.
2. Bloeman Wins Prestigious Oscar Mathisen Award
Transplanted Dutchman, now Canadian, Ted Jan Bloemen has been a boon to the men’s long track speed skating team. In 2015 he broke his former countryman, Sven Kramer’s, longstanding world record in the 10,000m by almost five seconds. For his efforts, Bloemen won the 2016 Oscar Mathisen Award for the most outstanding speed skating performance of the season worldwide. He is the 5th Canadian to win the award in 57 years. Bloemen has continued to lead the men’s distance team, winning silver in the 10,000m and bronze in the Team Pursuit at the 2016 World Single Distance Championships.
1. Wiebe Wrestles her Heart Out
One of the most enduring images of a Canadian athlete from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio is that of Erica Wiebe, standing atop the Olympic podium with a gold medal around her neck, singing Oh Canada, tears streaming unabashedly down her face. The gold medal performance by Wiebe was an outstanding example of preparation, execution and confidence. Always one to wear her heart on her sleeve, Wiebe’s performance was dominating and inspiring.
Other Noteworthy Stories from the CSI Calgary:
• Rio Olympic and Paralympic Performances: Medals won by CSI Calgary supported athletes include Allison Beveridge, Stefan Daniel, Jennifer Kish, Stephanie Labbe, Kirsti Lay, Alister McQueen, Mike Sametz and Ashley Steacy
• Comeback from Injury: Two notable athletes that are making a comeback for the 2016-2017 winter season are alpine skier Dustin Cook, who tore his ACL/MCL in 2015 and speed skater Denny Morrison, who narrowly survived a motorcycle crash in 2015 and a stroke in 2016.
• Talent Transfer: Kate O’Brien and Kirsti Lay both transferred into cycling from other sports, both qualified for Rio Summer Olympics with Kirsti winning a Bronze medal in the Team Pursuit.
• Luge Podium Sweep: Alex Gough and Kim McRae won Silver and Bronze at Lake Placid World Cup, followed up by Gold in the Team Relay.
• Historic Biathlon Bronze: The men’s Biathlon team won Canada’s first ever World Championship Relay medal in the heartland of the sport in Oslo, Norway.
• Assistant Chef de Mission: Carol Huynh, CSI Calgary Next Gen Wrestling Coach and 2008 Olympic Champion, joined Team Canada in Rio as an Assistant Chef de Mission.
• CBC All Stars: Six CSI Calgary alumni were broadcasters in Rio: Blythe Hartley, Clara Hughes, Kyle Shewfelt, Mike Smith, Mark Tewksbury and Kelly VanderBeek.
• Humphries’ Podium Streak Continues: Kaillie Humphries and Melissa Lotholz won Silver at the Bobsleigh World Championships.
• New Bobsleigh Star: Cynthia Appiah set a bobsleigh start record at her first ever World Cup with new partner Kaillie Humphries.
New at the CSI Calgary in 2016
• Game Plan Networking Events: CSI Calgary held two Game Plan networking events, at Crescent Point Energy with more than 75 current and alumni athletes attending each event.
• Sharing Knowledge: 15 CSI Calgary professionals presented at the 2016 OTP SPIN Conference.
• Concussion Research: Launch of the KINARM robot, research by Dr. Brian Benson, CSI Calgary’s Director of Sport Medicine, supported by CSI Calgary, OTP, WinSport, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Mitacs Acelerate-OTP post-doctorate scholar research award for Dr. Tara Whitten.
• Education: Strength and Power Performance Course delivered in May.
• Coaching Support: CSI Calgary became a regional hub for coaching delivery with a new D2L platform.
• New Lead: Tanya Dubnicoff, one of the most decorated cyclists in Canadian history joined CSI Calgary in January 2016 as CSI Calgary Cycling, Athlete Development Lead.
• Recognition: CSI Calgary staff recognized for their achievements – Phil Abbott wins a Petro Canada Coaching Excellence Award for work with Paralympic cyclist Mike Sametz; Kelly Ann Erdman, February 2016 position paper titled ‘Nutrition and Athletic Performance: Position of Dietitians of Canada’, published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine.
• Practicum and Internship: CSI Calgary supported 13 practicum students and one internship position, working to integrate CSI Calgary knowledge and experience, teaching students, coaches and sport science professionals in the fields of Strength and Conditioning, Sport Science, Biomechanics and Nutrition, to help put Canadians on the podium.
• Technology: CSI Calgary launched Edge 10, a web-based platform to capture, monitor and store daily training environment and para medical information. Users include NSFs, athletes, coaches and Service Providers.
• New Programs: NextGen programs for Ski Cross, Freestyle Park and Pipe.
• Partnerships: ASDC & CSI Calgary partnered to support a new Para Sport Training Program.
Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto