Canadian Sport Instute
  • The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary is really excited to unveil our new video. The CSIC is extremely proud of the expertise of our staff, facilities and services that we provide to Canadian athletes. This video aims to share our successes through a behind-the-scenes look at the services and tools that the CSIC has provided to athletes since its inception over 20 years ago.

    Many of the ways that the CSIC continues to power podium performances are shown in this 60 second video. Keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of elite athletes in their day-to-day quest for gold including bobsledder Jesse Lumsden doing strength training in the high performance weight room; speed skater Ivanie Blondin using sport science initiatives through physiological testing on a specialized skating treadmill; lugers Alex Gough and Sam Edney benefitting from biomechanic and performance analysis; and curler John Morris's attentiveness to nutrition and recovery benefits using the athlete kitchen and lounge.

    The CSIC has been home to many winter and summer athletes who represent Canada. To date, CSIC athletes have won a total of 421 medals in competitions at World Championships. At Olympic and Paralympic Games our athletes have won 143 Gold, 146 Silver and 132 Bronze. We believe that this should be celebrated!

    Call to action:

    Please feel free to share this video by tagging athletes and sports federations that you recognize on your social media platforms and websites using the link: http://youtu.be/hkbDDNEfwW0.

    We hope that both you and your fans will find it as inspiring as we do.

    #PoweringPodiumPerformances

    For athletes, coaches and federations, here are some sharing ideas:

    Check out @CSICalgary's awesome new video of Olympic and Paralympic athletes behind the scenes. #PoweringPodiumPerformances http://ow.ly/R0dcT

    Work behind performances! The day to day training of National Team athletes @CSICalgary #PoweringPodiumPerformances http://ow.ly/R0dcT

    This is what I do! @CSICalgary #PoweringPodiumPerformances http://ow.ly/R0dcT

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
  • Determined. Demanding. Loyal.

    This is Les Gramantik, a European-born Olympic pole-vaulter turned legendary Canadian athletics coach. Gramantik made his mark in Canada by coaching two of the country’s most successful multi-event athletics athletes in history, Jessica Zelinka and Michael Smith.

    Zelinka is a two-time Olympian, finishing 7th at the 2012 Olympic Games in both the heptathlon and 100m hurdles, while Smith is a three-time Olympian, 1991 World Championship Silver Medallist and former national record holder in the decathlon.

    Rachel Machin with Les Gramantik

    In conversation with Gramantik, it is apparent that much of his success comes from his diligence and pure love for sport. He describes coaching as “a passion, not a job,” and says, “I am fortunate to have found my passion and live it. I have not taken a holiday in fifteen years. Why would I? I am on holiday every day.”

    Now Gramantik is training a younger generation of athletes at the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary. He has created what he calls, “The best group I have ever had.” After forty-five years of coaching, that is high praise for team members Rachael McIntosh, Natasha Jackson, Nicole Oudenaarden, Rachel Machin, and Katelyn Lehner.

    With September 19-27, 2015 being declared National Coaches Week by the Coaching Association of Canada, Team Gramantik has every reason to say #ThanksCoach for the impact that their coach has had on them, both on and off the field of play.

    The coach-athlete relationship between Gramantik and Rachael McIntosh is based on a foundation of trust and long-term goal setting. Immediately after high school, McIntosh began competing for the University of Pittsburgh on a full NCAA scholarship. She experienced a year of instability and frustrations, changing coaches several times throughout the year.

    Fate was in her favour, however, when she met Gramantik the following summer. He saw the 19-year-old’s potential and offered her long-term commitment. “I can see us working together 12 years from now,” Gramantik said.

    That was all McIntosh needed to hear as she packed her bags, renounced her scholarship, and moved to Calgary. “Although I gave up my scholarship, I saw the opportunity to train with one of the world’s greatest coaches and to build myself a name and reputation working with one of the most talented athletes our country has to offer.”

    McIntosh and her teammates have bright athletic futures thanks to Gramantik’s vision for them. After decades of experience, Gramantik only sees more coaching down the road, exuding passion when he says, “I can really help athletes. As an old Hungarian saying goes, 'A good priest will learn until he is dead,' and I am still learning and getting better.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary

    Written by Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler

    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto

  •  

  • 2014 was always going to be a year to celebrate for the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSIC). Celebrating its 20th anniversary and looking forward to the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, there were many events to anticipate. The year did not disappoint. From the Olympic triumphs of the athletes to moving into a new home with state-of-the-art facilities, 2014 was certainly a year to remember. President and CEO Dale Henwood summarizes the beginning of 2015 best, believing that, "As we start a new year it is important to reflect on the past and embrace the future. This is an exciting time to look forward and to prepare the CSI for growth and success while being mindful of the business environment in which we operate."

    February's Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, was the highlight of 2014 from an athlete performance perspective. With CSIC supported athletes Kaillie Humphries, Heather Moyse, Erik Carleton, Chris Klebl, Brian McKeever, and members of the women's hockey team all coming home as Gold Medallists, the Institute's impact on success was reinforced. The success of the CSIC's winter athletes also served to give many summer athletes additional motivation as they prepared for amazing performances at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Those same summer athletes are now looking forward to the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

    The 2014 move to the facilities at Canada Olympic Park was especially impactful for both employees and athletes at the CSIC. Aside from the benefits of the world-leading weight room and training facilities where the athletes are fitted with Under Armour sponsored uniforms, athletes have access to on-site services such as sport medicine, sport science testing, physical and mental consultants, and strength trainers. Included in the facility is an athletes' lounge complete with a beautiful kitchen that not only allows for prompt and proper recovery after training sessions, but has also served as the location of an increased number of nutrition information session such as the Taste Buds series. The CSIC staff have greatly benefitted from the move as well, with the new location allowing all staff members to work in one centralized location, providing increased communication and enhanced services to the athletes.

    Never content with simply maintaining the status quo, the Performance Services teams at the CSIC have continued to improve their abilities and receive increasing accolades for their work. By transitioning into an Institute from a Centre there has been opportunity for increased communication amongst team members and the result has been improved integration of services. The impact on athletes has been evident, with the CSIC's highly skilled specialists continuing to be in high demand from National Sport Organizations who have requested increases in support for their athletes and coaches.

    2014 also brought about exciting advancements in the CSIC's Life Services portfolio, with the long-anticipated launch of the Game Plan Program. Game Plan is a national program created with the intention of helping athletes focus on performance when it matters most while also preparing for success once their athletic careers have ended. Taking a proactive approach to both life and career planning, the program uses a customized approach to ensure that athletes' specific needs are being met. The program has already received a great deal of athlete praise over its ability to allow for optimal performances throughout every stage of athletes' careers by ensuring that they are focused on performance while also being prepared for a successful life after sport.

    2014 was a year that significantly reinforced the CSIC's commitment to delivering world leading coaching development opportunities. Hosting the Global Coaches House conference during the Sochi Olympic Games in partnership with the International Council for Coach Excellence, the University of Calgary, and the Coaching Association of Canada, the CSIC continued to ensure that the vital role of coaching was not overlooked as a developing area. With 28 sessions over 10 days, Global Coaches House Calgary hosted international speakers who spoke on a variety of topics to support coaching at many different levels. The opportunity to learn from many of the world's best coaching minds attracted coaches from across Canada, including those who participated virtually. The CSIC continued to support the program during the Global Coaches House Glasgow, which offered on-site learning opportunities for coaches who were attending the Commonwealth Games.

    Every year passes with successes and failures. Fortunately, 2014 went by as a year with many things to celebrate for the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary. As we move into 2015, The Year of Sport in Canada, Dale Henwood is enthused by "the huge opportunity for the CSI to have an even greater impact on the Canadian High Performance sport system." Here's to an amazing 2015 and another 20 years supporting high performance sport. Happy New Year!

    Stay in the loop!

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Brittany Schussler: @bschussler
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    Game Plan: www.mygameplan.ca

  • As 2015 ends, the Canadian Sport Institute (CSI) Calgary has chosen to look back on some of the success stories of the past year.

    We have compiled a list of the top five athlete performances of 2015. We began with a long list of athletes who achieved excellence by winning a medal at a major event. The staff then voted from the list based on a criteria of athletic excellence combined with the impact that the CSI Calgary had on the athlete’s performance.  

     

    Cowntdown of the Top 5 CSI Calgary performances from 2015 


    #5  McKeeveGolden as he Adds tLifetime MedaHaul
    Brian McKeever, along with guide Erik Carleton, won the para-nordic 20-kilometre race at the IPC World Championship. No stranger to winning, McKeever has won 13 Paralympic medals in his illustrious career.


    #4  NeCanadiaTakes SpeeSkatinTeatUnprecedented Level

    Ted-Jan Bloemen set the 10,000m World Record and was an integral part of the Team Pursuit that won World Championship silver. The previously Dutch competitor has only competed for Canada for one year, taking advantage of his dual citizenship to compete wearing red and white.

    #3  WrestleGathers Medals aMultiplMajoChampionships
    Geneviève Morrison won bronze at the United Wrestling World Championships and gold at the Pan Am Games. The 48kg wrestler’s results earned an Olympic berth for Canada.


    #2  MultiplWorlChampionshiMedals
    Denny Morrison continued his speed skating dominance with two World Championship medals, finishing second in both the Team Pursuit and 1500m.


    #1  BiathloHistory is Made!
    Nathan Smith won World Championship silver to become the first Canadian male ever to win a World Championship medal in biathlon. Smith also won the men's 12.5-kilometre pursuit race at a World Cup in 2015, becoming only the second Canadian ever to capture World Cup gold.

    Further to our athletes’ success, the CSI Calgary has had many other successes in 2015. The CSI Calgary has continued to exhibit leadership in a variety of areas. Here are a few highlights:

     We increased the number of full-time employees embedded in the daily training environment, which has a direct impact on athlete preparation
     
     
    Game Plan - For the past 20 years, Calgary has been a leader in delivering Life Services to athletes and coaches. The re-launch of the Game Plan program and new partnerships with the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Sport Canada allows us access to more resources to deliver the program

    We hosted the first ever Paralympian Search, a Canadian Paralympic Committee initiative to identify the next generation of Canadian Paralympic athletes

     
    We hosted a new Strength and Power Performance Course twice during the year, offering aspiring coaches the chance to learn through interaction and mentorship

     
    We increased our involvement in Own The Podium’s (OTP) NextGen Development Pathway to include bobsleigh, freestyle slopestyle, speed skating, luge, wrestling and men’s alpine

     
    Skate Canada moved their home base to the CSI Calgary, taking advantage of having a training facility and services all under one roof

     
    Three CSI Calgary team members are leading their respective areas in OTP’s National Sport Science Sport Medicine Advisory Committee (NSSMAC), an initiative to share knowledge to provide National Sport Organizations the best support possible

     The CSI Calgary is proud of the direct impact that our staff continues to have on many of the world’s best athletes. Our goal is always to strive for excellence. With the 2016 Olympic Games on the horizon, we continue to move forward with relentless determination.

    Heretaamazing 2015 with greaathletic accomplishmentand great things tcome in the neyear!

    LimitsPushed 2015

     

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
  •  

  • High performance athletes are known for their intense focus and fierce dedication toward their sporting careers. In their quest for podium performances, well-rounded athletes look beyond their immediate sport goals and work towards balancing their lives and planning their futures. CSI Calgary has been promoting this holistic development of athletes as a core philosophy since its establishment. Over the years this culture has been nurtured and permeates the current and alumni athlete community.

    Understanding that addressing “life outside and beyond” sport is a critical performance factor, the CSI Calgary delivers dedicated programs, and personnel to work alongside athletes, supporting them in a wide variety of areas. Recently, the more formalized national Game Plan program has significantly elevated the content and quality of services available.

    In addition to being prepared for performance and life, CSI Calgary firmly believes that athletes who are prepared and confident off the field of play perform better. “Our aim is to prepare athletes to be responsible, confident, self-reliant and contributing citizens that are engaged with, and contribute back to the community,” says Dale Henwood, President and CEO. “Developing them as people helps them grow as athletes. Public support and connection to sport is better if we have good people representing our country.” Henwood has been a driving force promoting this philosophy for more than two decades.

    Brad Spence, two-time Olympian and former CSI Calgary athlete is an example of an athlete giving back to the community. Retiring after the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, Spence decided to give back to the community by creating a not-for-profit organization, pulling together a Board of Directors that includes fellow CSI Calgary alumnus Jeff Christie. Originally Helmets for Heroes, the new Creative Impact Health Foundation focuses on concussion awareness and education to minimize the risk of traumatic brain injuries. So far they have completed 14 projects involving athletes with a CSI Calgary connection.

    “As an athlete I feel I have a duty to give back,” says Spence. “I couldn’t have pursued my dreams and gotten to where I did, without the support of the community.” Spence is one of many CSI Calgary athletes and alumni using their lessons and success in sport to make our city a better place to live. Whether they are giving their time and energy sitting on non-profit Boards, contributing to existing foundations or starting their own, these athletes have embraced the concept of giving back to their community and acting as positive role models.

    There are many organizations with a strong CSI Calgary connection, the following are some examples of athletes leading the development of local community programs: Fast & Female (Chandra Crawford), KidSport (Kathy Salmon), Right to Play (Clara Hughes), Ski Fit North (Becky Scott) and Wickfest (Hayley Wickenheiser).

    “It is so encouraging to see the number of CSI Calgary current and alumni athletes dedicating their time towards different community initiatives,” says Cara Button, Director Stakeholder Relations and Game Plan administrator. “Seeing what athletes are doing validates our work.”

    Game Plan is a world-class program developed to support national team athletes in living better lives both during their high-performance careers and beyond. The program is being delivered across Canada by the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network (COPSIN), supported by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), Sport Canada and is powered by Deloitte.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Lisa Thomson
    22/03/17

     

  • Scattered about the country, Canada’s best up and coming ski cross athletes have historically been going it alone. The skiers have been isolated from one another, training solo and paying out of pocket for access to specialized programs and facilities.

    It’s hard and expensive to follow a solitary path, and not overly conducive to fostering team dynamics and building a strong, competitive team. Thankfully, all that is changing.

    Alpine Canada Alpin and the Canada Ski Cross program have created a Centralized Training and Education Program in Calgary, which allows athletes to simultaneously pursue post-secondary education and high performance sport. The program targets ski cross athletes from across Canada with potential who are three to six years from Olympic success.

    Leveraging Calgary training facilities, including the CSI Calgary and local ski resorts, athletes will take advantage of integrated services while completing their education.

    The CSI Calgary strongly supports this new initiative. Jason Poole, Director of Performance Services, says, “We are here to help and offer the team everything they need to achieve a high quality training environment,” he says. “Proximity to the National Sport School and the local universities and colleges also helps with supporting their education goals.”

    Willy Raine, Ski Cross Athletic Director at Alpine Canada Alpin, has been working toward achieving this goal since starting in his role two years ago. For him it’s about more than just getting the athletes training together. “One of the key components of this program is education,” he says. “My goal is to get 75% of the team into post-secondary education. This model will help create better athletes, and help them have better balance in life.”

    In addition to a focus on education however, the benefits of centralization include training together, which improves team dynamics and creates an environment where athletes support each other.

    Kevin MacDonald, a Next Gen team member, says that with the team now training together they are pushing each other in workouts, something they weren’t able to do before. “We really push each other in the gym,” he says. “If I see one guy lift a certain weight I’m going to try and match or better that, it helps us work harder.”

    For Raine, the primary objective is continuing to dominate on the world stage, no small feat for a program that is already number one in the world. “Ultimately centralizing the team will give us an advantage – the stronger the team is collectively the better we will be against the world. When one of us wins, we all win.”

    Part of the rationale for centralization is financial sustainability. Having a centralized program that brings gym and on-snow training into one region, greatly reduces the costs to the athlete and the organization. According to Raine it’s just not economically feasible to create programs at multiple ski hills across the country. “We have to bring them together to get them the development they need. We need to push from below to keep the program growing.”

    One of the goals of this new program is to develop athletes to the point where they are progressing from NorAm and Europa Cup competitions into World Cup competitions already at a high level. “We want to compress the development phase so that when the Next Gen athletes step up to the Word Cup level they are ready to start in the top 16, to make it into finals,” says Raine.

    MacDonald is grateful for the opportunity to train with his team and go to school. “Now we are all doing the same thing, we can relate to each other, it makes the team better.”

    Raine is equally happy to see his brainchild come to fruition. He passionately believes they are on the right track to developing both champion ski cross racers and successful students. “We need to help set them up for life, not just sport.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo: Alpine Canada Alpin
    19/10/16

  • There is an unfortunate reality within the realm of para sport that athletes have to contend with – they don’t always have access to services from their National Sport Organization, either due to a lack of resources or too few athletes to invest in a dedicated program.

    “In para alpine skiing for example, there are not enough athletes to develop a specific para alpine training group and program”, says Reid Bilben, Manager at the Alberta Sport Development Centre (ASDC). “This gap has left many para athletes from several sports on their own, without a place to train or team to train with.”

    Fortunately, the CSI Calgary, in partnership with the ASDC, is looking to change this reality with an innovative new program geared towards para athletes of all ages from any sport. The Para Sport Training Program is launching this fall at the CSI Calgary and will focus on providing sport science services to para athletes.

    The central idea behind the program is to bring para athletes from a variety of sports together to form training groups that will have access to high performance sport services from experts at the CSI Calgary. Bilben says that the intention is to fill a gap in the system for developing athletes. “We are trying to get more athletes who are the only one from their sport in a training region, into a training group with other para sport athletes.”

    Tessa Gallinger is an Adaptive Strength Specialist at the CSI Calgary and will lead the new training groups. She says the main goal is to bridge that gap within the para-sport system. “There isn’t a lot of availability of sport science to athletes prior to reaching the high performance level,” she says. “Most of the athletes I work with are already carded and on the national team. We’re trying to get athletes into the stream sooner.”

    Gallinger, who is also pursuing a master’s degree studying muscle physiology in athletes with cerebral palsy, says that they are looking to help athletes build the right foundation in strength and skill in order to help ensure they have long careers in para sport. “We want to get these athletes in the program when they are in between sports and haven’t specialized yet, but still need functional strength work and help with structural basics,” she says.

    This dedicated support will help the athletes stay healthy and strong in their sport for a long time. “We want to see them go to more than one Paralympic Games. We want their careers to be long lived,” says Gallinger. In a sport environment where athletes enter the stream at a later age and peak in their 30s or 40s, this program will serve to help younger athletes get started on the high performance path at an earlier age.

    In addition to having a place to train, training partners and sport science support, one of the key benefits for the athletes is simply being in an environment where excellence is the main pursuit. For Gallinger, it doesn’t matter how impaired or abled athletes are, they all have big goals and being exposed to others with similar attitudes and goals pushes everyone to be better. “There is a huge development piece to this program,” she says. “Athletes can see other athletes who are where they want to be, and can see what it takes to get there.”

    The Para Sport Training Program fall session began last week, there is still room for participants. Winter session starts January 9, 2017. For more information on the program or to register, contact the ASDC office at 403-440-8668.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    14/09/16

  • By Ken Read

    Each winter the Calgary region hosts up to seven annual World Cup events. Another four winter sports stage World Championship or quadrennial World Cups. Alberta is home to eight of the twelve winter National Sport Organizations. Canadian Sport Institute Calgary has matured into the largest of Canada’s seven Sport Institutes.

    In 1981, when a fairly obscure western Canadian city called Calgary won the right to host the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, none of this existed.

    So much has changed on the sport landscape in 35 years. But to really understand the legacy of 1988, you need to think back to what it was like to be in sport prior to 1981.

    There was no Saddledome, no Olympic Oval. The Canmore Nordic Centre and Nakiska did not exist. Canada Olympic Park was everyone’s favourite city ski hill called Paskapoo. The administration of most winter sports operated out of Ottawa, under the watchful eye of Sport Canada. Calgary hosted the Brier and Skate Canada and had held the first-ever World Cup downhill at Lake Louise. The Flames were new in town, housed in the 6,500 seat Corral.

    There certainly was a thriving winter sport community. International calibre Olympic talent had emerged from local clubs and programs in alpine ski racing, figure skating, speed skating and hockey. Local boosters wanted to run events to showcase Calgary, Alberta and the Canadian Rockies, to give home-grown athletes as well as other Canadian Olympic prospects and talent in emerging sports like freestyle and short track speed skating a chance to compete at home, to inspire local kids. But we lacked facilities and international experience.

    So when Frank King galvanized a renewed Olympic bid from the Calgary Booster Club in 1979, he found a highly receptive audience and community.

    I’m reflecting back to these early days of the 1988 Olympic bid, because it is so important to contrast what we take for granted today with what existed 35 years ago. No annual World Cups. No National Teams based in the province. Rare international events. No facilities.

    It was an enormous amount of sweat equity, ingenuity and investment that revolutionized sport in Canada. We all know how successful the 1988 Games were. But the real success story started through the preparation and development as Calgary ramped up for ’88.

    To prepare for the Games host cities are required to stage “pre-Olympic” events in all sports. A common-sense plan to test venues, give athletes a chance to train on Olympic sites, test logistics that range from transportation to security to pageantry, to train volunteers and work with partners that would include media, sponsors and funding agencies. The investment in people – volunteers and officials – delivered the capacity and know-how to organize annual World Cup events.Result: alpine skiing, bobsleigh, luge, skeleton and speed skating now are regular stops on the international calendar, with hockey, cross country skiing, biathlon, figure skating and curling hosting major events.

    Successful annual events were bolstered by a will to build training environments. National Training Centres emerged as funding became available, with National Teams centralizing their year-round programs close to these venues.Result: National Training Centres are now established at Nakiska (alpine), Canmore (biathlon & cross country), the University of Calgary (speed skating), Canada Olympic Park (nordic combined and ski jumping; sliding track for bobsleigh, skeleton & luge).

    With National Teams centralized in Alberta, it followed that once Sport Canada allowed the National Sport Organizations to move their head offices to logical locations (rather than Ottawa), the administration of each sport followed the athletes.Result: Calgary and Canmore are now home to Hockey Canada, Alpine Canada, Luge Canada, Bobsleigh/Skeleton Canada, Ski Jump Canada, Nordic Combined Canada, Cross Country Canada and Biathlon Canada.

    As Canada established a network of Canadian Sport Centres across the country to support our athletes, with most winter sports housed in the Calgary region, it was a natural evolution that CSI-Calgary became the primary provider to winter sports. Sport Centres are the employer of the support teams that surround athletes including exercise physiologists, strength and conditioning coaches, biomechanics, dieticians, mental performance consultants, anthropometrists, biochemistry lab technicians, physicians, physiotherapists, athletic therapists, chiropractors and massage therapists.

    Working with funding partners at the federal, provincial and municipal level, WinSport Canada established the Athlete Centre within Canada Olympic Park that is now one of the leading facilities for athlete training in the world.Result: CSI-Calgary has evolved to become Canada’s largest Sport Institute, now employing more than 75 professionals and working with 345 current and future Olympians/Paralympians and Pan-Am/Parapan athletes and hundreds of coaches, technicians, officials and volunteers working with sport organizations.

    The steadily expanding sport expertise and availability of venues has easily accommodated the addition of new and emerging sports that were added to the Olympic program post-1988. First to be included were skeleton and freestyle (moguls and aerials), followed by snowboard (cross, alpine and half-pipe) and ski cross, then expanding to slopestyle and now big air.Result: skeleton, freestyle, snowboard, ski cross programs and events were merged into the Calgary and region sporting mix on venues that are arguably best in the world.

    The circle of sport influence driven by the legacy of ’88 and the critical mass of sport expertise has continued to bring even more projects with a core sport focus to bolster the sector.Result: Canada’s Sport’s Hall of Fame, the winter offices of Own the Podium and National Sport School; complementing sport are the Human Performance Lab at the University of Calgary and Sport & Wellness Engineering Technologies (SAIT). Expertise along with bricks and mortar have gravitated to Calgary as a centre of sport excellence.

    The human factor has enormous impact. From those who are passing through, to many who came and put down roots, Calgary and area have been transformed. Many recognizable names within the sport community have come from other countries and parts of Canada. They have brought professional credentials and sporting pedigrees. Their children have joined our clubs. Their leadership and expertise populate sport boards, event committees and administration of local, provincial and national organizations.Result: Hundreds of international athletes come to Canada each year for training and competition. Canadians from across the country centralize to Calgary each year for their National Team programs. Many have elected to stay. Hundreds of sport professionals who lead and support our sport programs have been recruited from around the world and now call Canada home.

    Just imagine if you can, almost none of this existed in 1981.

    The business of international sport is no different than any other business sector. To remain competitive, relevant and to thrive, infrastructure needs to be maintained. Excellence is fluid, with the bar constantly raised. The medium that presents sport to the world is in flux with the expectations of digital delivery and efficient broadcast servicing a requirement for all sporting events from the World Cup level and up. We have an enormous sport business now resident in the region, so a review of existing and potential facilities and the infrastructure necessary to keep our competitive edge is a prudent business decision.

    It hasn’t all been sweetness and light through this journey. Mistakes have been made, but an Olympic bid is a once in a generation chance to learn, adapt and improve in the same way Calgary learned from the Montreal experience and Vancouver learned from Calgary. But on balance, without doubt, the 1988 Games have been good for the city and region, province and country and an enormous lift for Canadian sport. Even a review to evaluate a potential bid is a chance to refresh, reinvigorate, renew, redress and rebuild.

    This bid is for an event 10 years from today. At the core, the focus of the feasibility study should be on where we, as a community and country, would like to see this thriving sector evolve to by 2050 and beyond. To inspire youngsters, lift the next generation of champions, transfer knowledge to new leaders and officials. At a time where diversification is high on the list of urgent needs for our economy, sport and the related sectors of tourism and communications can figure prominently.

    When the IOC announced “Calgary!” in October, 1981, none of us truly imagined the possibilities. What a journey. As we now look forward, what opportunity awaits us.....

    More from Ken Read’s blog: White Circus – Weiß Zirkus – Cirque Blanc

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    29/06/16

  • In a season punctuated by Ted-Jan Bloemen setting the 10,000m World Record and Ivanie Blondin being crowned the Mass Start World Champion, the Canadian Long Track Speed Skating Team has exceeded all expectations.

    Predominantly based out of the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary), the team recently wrapped up the World Single Distance Championships where they won four medals (Blondin’s gold, a 10,000m silver from Bloemen, and bronze in the 500m from Alex Boisvert-Lacroix and the Men’s Team Pursuit).

    Scott Maw, CSI Calgary Sport Physiologist and Integrated Support Team (IST) Lead with Speed Skating Canada (SSC), knew the team had what it took to be a force on the global stage. Over the past two seasons, there has been a collaborative effort between SSC, the Olympic Oval and CSI Calgary in making adjustments to team culture, expectations and accountability. It began with an overhaul of the athlete pathway to make it one program focused on performance across all levels.

    The changes have lead to an increased concentration on the four main pillars that Speed Skating Canada’s program is built upon: respect, compete, accountability, and professionalism. This has come from an emphasis on team atmosphere, an element that can be difficult to emphasize in a mainly individual sport. To enhance the concept of team, all of SSC’s coaches have worked together to create a team-oriented yearly training plan that includes team training camps throughout the year.

    Maw says the objective is “really about making sure each and every athlete is getting the basics right while respecting their teammates and their competitors and what it means to skate with the maple leaf on their skinsuits. This in turn gives them the confidence that they can perform when it matters.”

    Following the 2014 Winter Olympics, Maw began working to develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine if World Cup performance was an indicator of World Championship or Olympic success. His task involved analyzing results from the previous six seasons, including thousands of races.

    These KPI’s are used by CSI Calgary Mental Performance Consultant Derek Robinson to increase athletes’ emphasis on both individual and the team’s performances. By frequently reporting to the skaters on how they performed as a team relative to the other countries, Robinson is able to motivate skaters to improve for individual progression and to contribute to the team’s success.

    Maw and the IST have adjusted many elements of the speed skating team’s approach. To better quantify the skaters’ response to training, SSC’s coaches have aligned how they classify training zones. This has worked in conjunction with a revamped approach to how skaters are monitored allowing IST members to hone in on how each athlete is responding to training. The athletes are also being monitored on their attention to elite habits, which include a vast array of things such as sleep and nutrition.

    Despite the endless ways to monitor athletes, adjust training, and encourage a supportive environment, ultimately Maw knows, “When it comes down to it, it’s all about the skater giving their best performance on the day that counts. We are here to support that and to help them make it happen by design rather than by chance.”

    The speed skaters close out their season in Heerenveen, Netherlands

    at the World Cup Final March 11-13. For up-to-date results, follow Speed Skating Canada on Twitter @SSC_PVC.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto

  • The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSIC) is recognized for being world-leaders in many areas of athlete development. It is due to this recognition that the CSIC has become accustomed to facilitating opportunities to learn and share information with many representatives from other sport organizations both domestically and internationally. Dale Henwood, President and CEO of the CSIC, takes great pride in the Institute's ability to help other institutions further their sport education, saying that people request to come here because the CSIC has a "reputation for having great expertise, great programs, a history of impact, and repeated performance success."

    Henwood knows that the benefits of hosting both local and international visitors, and sharing some of his program's world-leading concepts, are to the benefit of everyone involved, including the CSIC. As always, everything is done with the Canadian athletes' best interests in mind, as Henwood states, "I believe you should share, and when you share everyone gets better."

    Topics that are discussed between organizations vary depending on each other's strengths. For instance, at the beginning of November, a group of five women from the Japan Sport Council spent time in Calgary learning about how the CSIC has contributed to incredible success for female athletes on the international stage. The answer was simple: equal opportunity. Women within the CSIC programs are privileged to all of the same benefits that their male counterparts are, something that is not always found in sports communities around the world. This mandate has shown in Canada's Olympic results, with women winning 14.5 out of 26 Canadian medals at the Vancouver 2010 Games, 12 out of 25 medals at the Sochi 2014 Games, and 10 out of 18 Canadian medals at the London 2012 games.

    This coming week, another Japan Sport Council representative is coming to discuss the main points of hosting an Olympic Games in their home country. As Calgary is world-renowned for the success of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, the organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are eager to investigate how to make their own home Games a success, both for the visiting countries and especially for their own athletes.

    Plans are also being set in motion for the CSIC to host two representatives from the Sports Centre Papendal in the Netherlands. Their inquires pertain to the world-leading life services programs that the CSIC is a part of, such as the newly launched Game Plan Program and the Elite Athlete Work Experience Program (EAWEP). Both life services programs have been put in place to assist athletes with long term goals both inside and outside of sport. For example, Game Plan's main goal as Canada's athlete career transition program is to support and empower high performance athletes to pursue excellence during and beyond their sporting careers. Supporting athletes under the pillars of career, education, and personal development, the program uses a customized approach to ensure that athletes' specific needs are being met. Programs such as Game Plan and the EAWEP are significant contributors to the success of the CSIC's athletes because they give them confidence during their athletic careers that they will be well prepared for their lives after sport, relieving much of the anxiety that comes with spending early adulthood pursing sports excellence.

    Be sure to visit www.csicalgary.ca to find out more about the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary's programs and services!

    Stay in the loop!

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Brittany Schussler: @bschussler
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    Game Plan Program: @gameplandematch, www.mygameplan.ca

  • Tanya Dubnicoff is a Cycling World Champion, World Record Holder and three-time Olympian in addition to being an Olympic medal winning Cycling Coach. One of the most decorated cyclists in Canadian history, she now works with aspiring cyclists as the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary Cycling, Athlete Development Lead.

    Coaching cycling programs from the development level all the way up to high performance athletes in the disciplines of road, track, mountain, cyclo-cross and para-cycling, Dubnicoff says that her program is unique because of the group atmosphere and appropriate stages of development for the sport, as well as the year round coached training environment. “We take the athletes’ entire well-being into account for their training and development.”

    The new coaching position is the perfect fit for Dubnicoff. As an athlete, she moved from Winnipeg to Calgary in 1995 to become a member of the National Sports Centre, now the CSI Calgary. Recently starting as a coach at the CSI Calgary, Dubnicoff says that taking the position “felt like coming home, with the comforts of familiarity. There are so many people that make the Calgary training environment great, specifically the Olympic Oval and the CSI Calgary staff. This is something that people do not understand if you do not come from this training environment. There are a variety of talented individuals wanting to succeed and being provided with what they need. It is not like this anywhere else.”

    Dubnicoff is particularly excited about the Cycling Development Program for youth aged seven to thirteen. Providing coaching to both able and disabled bodied cyclists, the program’s goal is to promote physical literacy while providing youth with cycling skills and awareness. The program is geared to working towards individual goals - to race or simply enjoy a ride with family and friends.

    Overall, Dubnicoff is thrilled to be the face of an established cycling program, which has been strong since its inception in 1998. She raves, “Coaching at the CSI Calgary, I see the opportunity to continue to build on the strong cycling community. Athletes have so many more opportunities today. For example, top-secret training that was once reserved for the elite has now trickled down and is now being implemented as best training practices for our youth. It is fascinating to me, and there is so much potential. This excites me, this is my passion!”

    For more information on the cycling programs visit http://csicalgary.ca/athlete-development/cycling-program.

     

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler

  • Canadians have an upcoming group of athletes to watch for in the near future: the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Team. The team is already en route to the Athletes’ Village in Lillehammer, Norway where they will compete from February 12-21.

    The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) will be well represented at the YOG. CSI Calgary athlete alumnus Eric Mitchell, a ski jumper who competed at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, has been named as a Games Young Ambassador. As a Young Ambassador, Mitchell’s role is to live by the Olympic values while inspiring the athletes to get the most out of their Games experience.

    NextGen Luge athlete Brooke Apshkrum is also part of the YOG delegation. Apshkrum is currently in Winterburg, Germany training with CSI Calgary Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Lane. Apshkrum is one of nine YOG athletes who call Alberta home. Lane says, “I'm really excited for Brooke and the rest of our Luge team to apply the skills they developed in the summer months while preparing for this opportunity. The culture of excellence that we have developed at the CSI Calgary with off-ice training has undoubtedly played a role in Brooke's approach to training on the ice as well. I'm proud of her and excited to see where this experience leads her in the future.”

    Adding to the list of CSI Calgary representatives, recent Advanced Coaching Diploma (ACD) graduate Lucas McGurk has been named the Head Coach of the YOG Biathlon team. A former cross country ski racer, McGurk retired from racing in 2010. He furthered his knowledge through the multi-sport theory classes at the National Coaching Certification Program and then continued into the ACD. Although this will be his first major Games, McGurk was chosen as the team’s Head Coach through a selection process where he says, “Having the ACD helped me stand out amongst the candidates. This is an awesome opportunity.”

    As for his experience with the ACD program, McGurk feels that it was a great fit for him, saying he is, “Always looking for new information and new ways of doing things. It was the start of a clear path for me in coaching. I was very fortunate to meet several high level coaches in a variety of sports and we had a lot of cross pollination of ideas. The other coach-learners were amazing. You are learning from the teachers but you are also learning from your peers.”

    The CSI Calgary is represented in Norway by leaders, coaches and athletes. Don’t forget to cheer on our young Canadian competitors as they take on the world at the Youth Olympic Games! Be sure to visit http://www.lillehammer2016.com for up-to-date results.

    ---

    ACD application reminder

    The CSI Calgary’s next ACD session begins in April 2016. Registrations are being accepted until February 15. To register, visit www.csicalgary.ca/advanced-coaching-diploma  or contact Program Director Jason Sjostrom at jsjostrom@csicalgary.ca 

     

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto

  • The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) has implemented a rule change in female bobsled competition. The rule change states that the maximum weight of a team’s sled will need to be reduced from its former weight by a total of 15 kilograms for the upcoming season. It will then be reduced by another 15 kilograms for the subsequent season. This change aims to increase the level of competition among nations with the hope that it will encourage a wider range of body types to be involved in the sport.

    The Canadian bobsled athletes and staff, who are based out of the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSIC), believe that the rule change will have a positive impact on their team. Speed and Strength Coach Quin Sekulich notes that the weight reduction makes the sport more inclusive and that it “will make things easier on the recruitment side to find fast Canadian girls who weigh 155-165 pounds instead of 170-180 pounds.”

    Two-time Olympic Champion Kaillie Humphries is confident that the changes will be positive for her sport. As one of the only women in the world who pilots both a women’s two-man team and a men’s four-man team, she knows that she will need to make adaptations in the way she pilots her sled. She says, “Overall, this is great news for me on the women’s side. However, as a pilot this poses a challenge because of the difference between an extremely light women's two-man sled and a very heavy four-man sled. By lightening the overall weight by a drastic amount, we become more susceptible to skidding and sliding around, which makes the sled harder to control.”

    Continuing to develop the sport of women’s bobsleigh by increasing the depth of competition is an important goal, and the main reason for the rule change. Humphries hopes that the new rule, “Does the job it is supposed to do and will get more women participating in the sport from all over the world. Next season will be exciting.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Brittany Schussler: @bschussler
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
  • Preparing for life after sport is not often at the forefront of athletes’ minds. The pressing demands of training and competition consume the majority of their energy and focus, which leaves little room for professional development outside of sport. However, there is a concerted effort at the CSI Calgary to offer athletes a variety of workshops and seminars through Game Plan with the aim of fostering skill development in areas that will help them thrive once they retire from sport.

    Part of Amy Van Buskirk’s job as Athlete Services Coordinator at the CSI Calgary is to educate athletes about the programs available to them and encourage them to sign up. “Although the athletes don’t always have these programs on their radar and sometimes need a little push to sign up they are always so glad they do and are super thankful” she says. Courses offered include Financial Planning, Networking, Public Speaking, LinkedIn, Media Training and Branding & Marketing.

    One recently retired athlete needs no push at all – Rudy Swiegers, Pairs Figure Skater and 2014 Olympian, signs up for every course he can. “Right now with any opportunity that comes up I just say ‘Why not?’ It’s good to grow as an athlete and as a person” he says. One of the key benefits that Swiegers has noted is that he can apply the skills he’s learning right away. “The public speaking course gave me skills that I can use in a job interview, where I can come up with ideas quickly and communicate them” he says, which is something he hopes to do in the near future.

    For luge athlete Arianne Jones, who is working towards the 2018 Olympics, the courses aren’t only for life after sport. “It’s helpful for the future but it’s also really helpful now” she says. “With these workshops and events I can make connections now that lead to sponsorships during my athletic career as well as potential jobs when I am done.” She also has no concern that preparing for the future will detract from her luge career. “I think it’s a good thing to think about the future and it doesn’t take away from the competitive drive. Working towards the future and being competitive now can exist in synchronicity.”

    What the athletes learn can be contagious. According to Van Buskirk, there is a peer-to-peer influence that helps the program grow and reach more athletes. “The athletes see other athletes go to the workshops and share what they’ve learned and that sparks others to get involved. It is absolutely worth their while” she says. Ultimately the goal is to help the athletes develop skills they can use in new careers after sport.

    Jones acknowledges that the transition from sport to life will be challenging no matter how many workshops she takes or how well prepared she is. “No athlete quits and says, ‘I came out and things were great!’ That’s nobody’s story!” she laughs. Indeed, that transition can be difficult for many, if not most, athletes. But according to Jones, there is still a lot of value in working on professional development for the future when you’re still an athlete. “It makes you feel like you are doing the right thing now so that when you get there you have some skills and training behind you” she says.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    06/07/16

     

  • There is a moment in sport when everyone but the athlete falls away. All of the people who had input into crafting an athlete for performance excellence – coaches, physiologists, psychologists, strength trainers, physiotherapists – step back to the sidelines, left only to watch, knowing that they have done everything they can to prepare the athlete to have what it takes to perform, to be in the game.

    For some, hearts race and butterflies surge; for others, there is cheering and yelling at the TV screen; for others still there is no need or desire to watch at all – the work is done. Just as each person has a different role to play in cultivating the athlete’s performance, they also have different ways of approaching their work and investment in the athletes they train. However, one constant remains: while their primary aim is to help athletes be in the game, their hearts are in it, too.

    The bond that develops between support staff and athletes is professional, but over time it becomes uniquely personal, too. “You can’t help but be emotionally connected,” says Cara Button, CSI Calgary Life Services Manager. “They’re not just a name you read in the paper, you’re invested in them.” Kelly Quipp, the CSI Calgary Sport Performance Laboratory Lead, agrees, “You get to know the athletes on many levels, whether it’s spending two hours in the lab watching them breathe or taking measurements of muscle and fat (body composition).”

    For many, it is the process of helping build and shape an athlete over a four-year cycle in preparation for an Olympic Games that fuels their work. Dr. David Smith, Director of Sport Science at the CSI Calgary, says all the work is done at the front and middle end of the cycle, and that’s what he is passionate about. “It’s not the end result I find exciting,” he says. Scott Maw, CSI Calgary Sport Physiologist, agrees, “To me the process is more important than the actual performance. If I just focused on the performance, it would be impossible to do my job.”

    For both Dr. Smith and Maw, the reward is in seeing the athletes realize their potential. “The most rewarding thing is that an athlete goes out and does what they are supposed to do, you just want them to execute what you know they can do,” says Dr. Smith. Maw says he feels satisfaction “from doing what I can to help these athletes go out there and do what they love on the biggest stage.”

    When she is working in the lab or on site, Quipp says it’s about doing what needs to be done. “I’m here to do this job and I take the emotion out of it, but when I’m watching the athletes compete the emotion comes out and I’m a proud mama again!” For Maw, all aspects of the job are fully integrated with his desire to maximize performance. “There is nothing else I’d rather be doing so if that’s passion, then I guess my emotion is always there. I just try not to ride the highs too high or the lows too low” he says.

    Highs and lows are part and parcel of sport – for every moment of joy, there can be one of sorrow, too. “When the men’s water polo team qualified for the 2008 Olympics our whole office erupted, when the women’s team pursuit failed in 2010 we all cried over that,” Button remembers. “It goes both ways.”

    This deep connection to their work and the athlete journey ultimately strengthens the impact that CSI Calgary staff like Smith, Maw, Quipp and Button have on sport in Canada. “We’re trained to do our job, but we’re people too,” says Button. “We’re not family but we feel like we are.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    22/06/16

     

  • The entirety of all that Carol Huynh has ever accomplished in her life made her an ideal choice for the role of Assistant Chef de Mission for Team Canada at the upcoming 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio. That the two-time Olympic medalist in wrestling, and CSI Calgary Next Generation coach, was handpicked for the job astonished Huynh, “I was surprised, bigtime surprised! I heard through the grapevine last fall that it might happen, but when the call came in October I was still surprised. It boggles my mind that they chose me.”

  • You could say that Carol Huynh is a Jack of all trades, master of all: Olympic Champion, Master’s Student, Assistant Chef de Mission, Mentor, Advocate, and now Coach, in the sport of wrestling. Over a span of more than two decades, Huynh has steadfastly honed her many skills and filled so many different roles, approaching each with her own simple blend of humility and hard work.

    It’s a rare breed these days – the retired athlete who pursues a new career in their sport. “There are other athletes who have done what Carol is doing, but she’s unique because there are less and less of them staying in sport after retirement,” says Cara Button, Director, Stakeholder Relations at CSI Calgary. “The sport system doesn’t always do a good job of keeping athletes in their organization but athletes have so much knowledge and experience to share,” she adds.

    Given that successful athletes carry with them a lifetime of experience and expertise, Button says that Wrestling Canada has done a good job of finding a way to keep Huynh involved. She is now the Wrestling Canada Next Gen Institute Program Coach and recently enrolled in the CSI Calgary’s Advanced Coaching Diploma.

    Huynh’s ventures into education, advocacy and coaching weren’t always in the plan – she initially wanted to pursue psychology and later sport psychology, even earning her Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology. But after retirement a number of events transpired that kept pulling her back.

    First, when wrestling was voted off the Olympic program by the IOC in 2013, Carol spearheaded an international effort to have the sport reinstated. Her successful fight led to becoming elected as chairperson of the International Wrestling Federation’s new Athletes’ Commission.

    Second, When the Next Gen concept was rolled out by Own the Podium, Wrestling Canada created a development pathway and needed a coach to lead the effort. Huynh jumped at the opportunity because she wanted to give back to the sport.

    Of her decision to remain in sport, Huynh modestly concedes that at first it seemed like the right choice because it felt easy. “I didn’t want to leave the sport,” she says. “It would be so hard to cut that out of my life.” Perhaps it felt easy because it was the right choice.

    Starting out in a new career is tough given that Huynh was once the best wrestler in the world. “What’s really hard is that for so long I felt like I’d mastered something but now I’m starting coaching and learning how to be the best coach,” she explains. She’s also acutely aware that just because she was a good athlete doesn’t mean she’ll be a good coach. “I gotta earn it,” she says.

    So, she is approaching her new career in coaching with the same work ethic and determination that helped her to become an Olympic Champion, Master’s Student and successful advocate – she knows it will take a lot of hard work to learn her new craft and she is up for the challenge.

    Of pursuing her next challenge in the sport she is so passionate about, Huynh is resolute: “Now I have to get good at this.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto
    31/05/17

  • Vancouver-born Matt Hallat does not have your typical inspiring athlete story. His is more powerful.

    After having his right leg amputated at age five due to Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, Hallat’s parents enrolled him in a ski program for people with a disability. His dad had skied as a child and, after digging his 20-year-old ski boots out of the closet, he put them on to take his son to the hill. The old boots promptly fell apart. Despite the setback, father and son found another pair and made it out to the ski hill. They loved every minute of it, and the rest is history. Hallat has become a decorated para-alpine skier, three-time Paralympian, and has a World Championship bronze medal to his credit.

    Hallat has now become an ambassador of para-athletes. He will be supporting the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) onsite at their first ever athlete identification event, to be held on Saturday, November 14 at the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary. Paralympian Search is open to Canadians aged 14 to 35 with a physical disability or visual impairment, offering them the chance to test their physical capabilities and discover which Paralympic sport may be best suited to them. Participants will get to meet Hallat, see his medal, and hear his story.

    Hallat says that the role of athlete ambassador is important to him because, “The road to becoming a Paralympian helped shape the person that I am today. It shaped where I lived, the people I met, the challenges I set out to overcome, and the goals I set within and outside of skiing. Setting the goal to become a Paralympian has impacted every aspect of my life to date and I am thankful for that. Getting to be a Paralympian was icing on the cake.”

    Catherine Gosselin-Després, Executive Director, Sport for the CPC, says that Paralympian Search is an opportunity to reap the same benefits from sport that Hallat has experienced. She notes, “By testing people’s potential in various Paralympic sports, we are looking to identify a future generation of champions with the potential to win medals for Canada. Not everyone will end up going to the Paralympic Games, but everyone can enjoy the benefits of being placed in an appropriate sport programs tailored to develop and hopefully maximize their potential.”

    For those who are thinking of taking part but are nervous about their abilities, Hallat is already giving out advice. He emphasizes that all participants should “simply enjoy the experience. The participant is in the driver’s seat. There is no telling where it may go, but the choice is theirs and the day should be a lot of fun.”

    As registration is free, there is nothing to lose for potential participants. Every test will be adapted for each participant’s specific needs and they will be in control of how hard they push themselves. So, come out to Paralympian Search on November 14 and find out if you are #PARATOUGH.

    For more information and to register, visit paralympic.ca/paralympian-search.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
  • Bo Levi Mitchell is no stranger to fast-paced high-risk sport, and the injuries that can result from them. When injuries happen, return to play is the primary focus. Professional athletes have access to top-of-the-line para medical treatments, but this is not always the case for other high performance athletes. This is where Mitchell has decided to lend his support – to CSI Calgary Next Gen athletes in high risk mountain sports.

    The Calgary Stampeders quarterback joined the elite club of Canadian Football League athletes last year when he received the 2016 Most Outstanding Player award and was recognized as Shaw’s CFL Top Performer for 2016. As part of the program, Mitchell was given $25,000 from Shaw Communications to donate to his charities of choice. Mitchell decided he would like to play a part in helping younger athletes receive pre-injury baseline assessments and post injury treatment. “I know the expertise required to bring an athlete back to their sport after injury and I’d like to be able to help them move forward to pursue their dreams.” Concussion and knee injuries are two of the rehabilitation areas in which he is most interested.

    With football’s potential for acute unforeseeable injuries, Mitchell knows what it takes to fully recover. He has chosen to invest in Next Gen athletes because he sees their aspirations and knows the impact he can make by increasing their access to resources. “I’m mesmerized by the guts and athleticism in these young athletes in sports like Ski Cross, Freestyle, Slopestyle and Alpine skiing,” says Mitchell. “I have a ton of respect for them as I watch their speed and the elements they battle in their sports.”

    “We are so appreciative that Bo Levi has chosen to support these Next Gen athletes in their quest to reach the next level,” says Dale Henwood, CSI Calgary President and CEO. “Injuries can prove to be a costly venture when working towards return to sport. This donation will make a difference.” Some of the services CSI Calgary can provide athletes include baseline testing, physiotherapy, expedited MRIs, concussion tools and proper muscular skeletal assessments.

    Originally from Katy, Texas, Mitchell and his wife have been in Calgary since 2012. Active members in the Calgary community, they are involved with many charitable causes in Calgary and Southern Alberta. True role models, the Mitchells take pride in giving back. Among their initiatives to improve our community, they work with YouthLink, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Police Recreational Youth Mentoring Experience, and Vecova Centre for Disability Services and Research. Mitchell also hosts 10-15 kids at every home game through Bo’s QB Club.

    Last November Mitchell was also awarded the Herm Harrison Memorial Award for the second straight year, given to a Calgary Stampeders player who distinguishes himself in the field of community service.

    CSI Calgary thanks Bo Levi Mitchell for his generosity and would also like to congratulate the Mitchell family on the birth of their daughter last week.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Lisa Thomson
    15/03/17

     

  • Budding athletes dream of the Olympic podium, but from a distance – it’s a long way off. This precious dream is held deep down in their young hearts by the belief that it is possible to one day step up and earn that glorious, coveted medal on the day it matters most. That the prize remains a distant goal is not a concern, in fact it is the great distance that must still be traveled that drives the next generation of Canada’s best.

    It is not just through dreams that Olympic medals are won – it is the end result of years, if not decades, of dogged and meticulous preparation. This preparation begins long before the young athletes reach the elite level, at a time when they are the most malleable, adaptable and willing to learn.

    The CSI Calgary, alongside a network of seven Alberta Sport Development Centres (ASDCs), recognizes this timeframe as an opportunity to help prepare young athletes for the next level. In Alberta, the pathway to the podium is being intentionally and methodically paved, by a joint CSI Calgary-ASDC effort that aims to enable emerging athletes reach their goals. Since 2009, the ASDCs have worked closely with both the CSI Calgary and the Provincial Sport Organizations (PSOs) of nineteen targeted sports to identify needs and deliver the right services and resources.

    One of the primary goals is to introduce athletes to sport science services at a younger age. By partnering with the CSI Calgary, the ASDCs are able to introduce the kind of philosophy, language and science to the emerging athlete so that when they progress to the next level, it’s not all new. Reid Bilben, Manager of the ASDC in Calgary, says, “Bringing sport science to the forefront of the development pathway is a key factor in preparing the athletes.” He adds, “We are more intentional with what we are doing, we are more targeted and strategic than we have ever been.”

    According to Miranda Sallis, Manager of Performance Services at CSI Calgary, the partnership also aims to extend the CSI Calgary approach to the PSO level. “The goal is to standardize the system by filtering down those best practices, like identifying gaps in an athlete’s performance or implementing the correct testing protocol and how to interpret results. The result is that there is a pathway for them to succeed,” she says.

    Sallis also recognizes the importance of a targeted approach that best serves the athletes. “There are so many layers of influence on a young athlete,” she says, “We are trying to answer the question – ‘What do the athletes actually need?’ We are looking at laying the right foundation instead of just throwing everything at them and hoping something works.” This intentional approach has led to systematic alignment throughout the athlete development pathway.

    The impact of the partnership extends to the five rural ASDCs as well. Scott Fraser, Director of High Performance Sport at Alberta Sport Connection, says, “ASDC is a good opportunity for the clubs to have their athletes have access to sport science.” Additionally, there is a component of knowledge sharing and educating local coaches, which Sallis says “opens their eyes to what is potentially available to them.”

    It’s not just the young athletes that have big dreams, the proponents of this partnership have a dream too. Says Sallis, “In a perfect world, the pathway would lead from the ASDC, to Next Gen to National Team to the Olympic Podium.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    15/06/16

  •  

  • It takes a concerted effort to discover new athletic talent – an area that has often been overlooked in the Canadian sport system, which relies more on the progression of young athletes from the grassroots level up to high performance. In its second year, RBC Training Ground is building momentum across the country, attracting thousands of athletes for qualifying events. In Alberta alone, approximately 400 athletes will participate in four qualifying events.

    To date, three regional qualifiers in Alberta have been completed, in Grande Prairie, Lethbridge and Okotoks, with one more on April 8 in Edmonton. The top male and female athletes from these qualifiers will compete at the CSI Calgary in the regional final on May 6.

    The RBC Training Ground program offers young athletes an opportunity to participate in a series of talent identification events testing for power, strength, speed and endurance. The idea is to find talented athletes and provide them with an opportunity to try a new sport in which they might be well-suited to excel.

    Kayla Dodson, 24, was the top female athlete from the Grande Prairie event. Dodson played CIS women’s hockey for five years while she was studying sport science and now works for the Alberta Sport Development Centre as a strength and conditioning coach in Grande Prairie

    Dodson isn’t sure what sport she would excel at but says she would like to try sprint track cycling. She knows it’s a long road to the Olympics and that very few athletes make it. Still, she says, “it’s every athlete’s dream to be an Olympian.”

    According to Joshua Riker-Fox, RBC Olympian, 2008 Modern Pentathlon, RBC Training Ground fills a missing piece in the sport system in Canada. “It’s quite amazing that RBC has been able to step in and help fill this big gap,” he says. “I have to believe that by providing this opportunity athletes will present themselves, especially in sports that are less technical. This is a great opportunity to identify athletes early on.”

    That is certainly the hope of many National Sport Organizations (NSOs), 11 of which are involved in the program, including Cycling, Rowing and Athletics. They’re all looking to find athletes with potential in their sport. Ultimately, CSI Calgary staff will connect with representatives from the NSOs to compare athlete performance data with NSO standards to try and identify additional athletes with potential in a specific sport.

    For Miranda Sallis, Performance Services Manager at CSI Calgary, seeing all the partners coming together to work on a common goal has been a positive experience. “It has been exciting to work with the regional Alberta Sport Development Centres, the Canadian Olympic Foundation, and RBC to attract potential new talent to high performance sport,” says Sallis. “The response to the program is very encouraging.”

    When Dodson was attending school in Australia she recalls seeing talent identification programs at the grade school level, testing for athletes with potential. “It’s a different world over there,” she says. “I remember thinking ‘I wish Canada had something like that.’” Now it does – RBC Training Ground.

    For all those undiscovered athletes out there looking for their own chance to shine, take heart and take a chance – sign up for RBC Training Ground. You never know where you might end up.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    05/04/17

  • For Olympic coach Les Gramantik recovery days are not optional, they’re a must. It wasn’t always this way for his training group, especially when Gramantik first came through the coaching system 40+ years ago.

    “Athletes were trained very hard and not enough thought was given to recovery”, says Gramantik. “Now as we know, recovery is an integral part of training; without adequate proper recovery it is impossible to train and perform well”.

    Gramantik relies on a team of professionals, an Integrated Support Team (IST), to assist his athletes in optimal recovery strategies. Qualified service providers at CSI Calgary contribute to this leading edge approach in addressing the individual athlete’s needs and supporting coaches in decision-making. As Gramantik explains, “It doesn’t matter how much I read, I stay away from giving advice about anything I’m not trained for, so it’s helpful to be able to direct athletes to experts in other fields.”

    Performance Dietitian Kelly Drager is one of those professionals accessible through CSI Calgary. Drager sets athletes up for success by focusing on a maximum of three new modifications at a time to foster consistency, not perfectionism. This approach removes the daunting task of trying to follow a strict meal plan, which can be discouraging for anyone who is trying to create new habits.

    “Because we work in an athlete-centered approach we want to get the athlete to pull off something they can take charge of and feel like it would benefit them at the highest level,” Drager says. “Little successes can create a cascade effect of other positive changes.”

    For example, Drager says the critical question for athletes to consider is “what are you eating and what are you missing?” when addressing their daily food intake: during heavy training days replenishing energy stores appropriately in relation to what energy was expended.

    The same consideration is made for lighter training days and having a plan that enables them to adjust accordingly.

    Though a coach can tell an athlete to rest and a dietitian can guide an athlete to refuel, one of the hardest parts of recovering for an athlete with a competitive mindset is to convince them to mentally shut down.

    Derek Robinson is a Mental Performance Consultant who has been based at CSI Calgary for more than a decade. “The biggest thing about recovery is a mindset that allows the athlete to give themselves permission to turn their mind off.”

    In his role as an IST Service Provider for a team sport, Robinson addresses the mental side of recovery by implementing a designated 15 to 20 minute evening recovery session when the team is on the road. This includes a protocol of handing in their phones (after connecting to family) allowing athletes to mentally commit to actively engaging in the relaxation session — literally, “turning it off”. These sessions promote a state of relaxation in order to prepare their bodies and minds for a good night’s sleep, which Robinson says can be often overlooked as a recovery tool but is key to a holistic athlete-centered approach.

    Robinson describes it as a bit of a catch-22, in that sleep should be stressed for optimal recovery, but it shouldn’t be stressed about. “You can control your habits surrounding sleep but you can’t control when you fall asleep. That’s when you have to just let go. That’s when you just trust you will fall asleep and you do not worry about it because worrying about it is psychological insomnia.”

    It’s sound expert advice such as this, in areas that were once thought of as trivial, that coaches such as Gramantik are now able to implement as a part of a well-rounded IST program, supporting athletes in getting them to the podium.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Jessica Zelinka
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    15/02/17

  • 16-02-24-WagnerEmily Wagner did not always have her heart set on becoming a triathlete. The 18-year-old Calgarian grew up playing a wide range of community sports including ringette, soccer, and gymnastics. However, it was her prowess in competitive swimming and cross country running that prompted someone to suggest she test her abilities in a triathlon at the age of fifteen.

    Three years later, the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) athlete has been named Junior Triathlete of the Year. Wagner admits, “I really was not expecting it! There were a lot of other strong junior triathletes who had a great year as well.”

    Wagner has been supported by the CSI Calgary since September 2013, only three months after she competed in her first triathlon. She was seen as an athlete with great potential by the CSI Calgary’s Lead of Athlete Development Paula Jardine and became part of the Talent Lab program. Wagner says the program has been “a great platform that provided me with the resources necessary to initiate my triathlon career. The services have been a great help to my success thus far. Testing in the Sport Performance Laboratory has helped my training, giving me a base line to work with and improve on throughout the season while allowing exercise physiologists to monitor and plan my program.”

    Jardine notes, "The CSI Calgary recognized Emily's potential right away and we have been working with her since she started her triathlon career to build up her structural tolerance for training. Many good female triathletes are prone to overtraining injuries and fail to sustain their performances. We put in place a long term program for Emily designed to help her make the transition from Junior athlete to Olympian by making her a more resilient athlete."

    Funding provided by B2Ten helped to support the CSI Calgary Talent Lab Project in 2015. Thanks in part to their support, up and coming athletes such as Wagner have had access to strength training and physiology support, as well as medical and paramedical services through the Talent Lab. For Wagner, meeting with Registered Dietitian Kelly Drager about questions or concerns regarding her diet, working on strength training with coach Anna Aylwin, and paramedical treatment with Shayne Hutchins have been crucial.

    Wagner says, “The services provided from the CSI Calgary have allowed me to grow and develop as an athlete.” Moving forward, Wagner is looking to improve on her eighth place result from last year’s Junior World Championship by finishing in the top five in Cozumel, Mexico. Next season, she will advance to the Elite category and begin training for the 2020 Olympic Games.

    For more information on the Talent Lab Project, please contact Paula Jardine at pjardine@csicalgary.ca

    Institut canadien du sport de Calgary : @csicalgary
    Rédigé par Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler
    Photo de Dave Holland: @CSICalgaryPhoto

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  • A needle in a haystack meets a diamond in the rough – so hopes the innovative RBC Training Ground campaign that is currently gaining momentum across the country. Now in its second year, the unique athlete recruitment program is searching far and wide for Canada’s next great Olympian. Who will it be?

    The search is on at 25 local qualifying events and five regional finals throughout Canada. The program is open to athletes aged 14-25, targeting both young athletes that are talented in their sport as well as older athletes with untapped potential to transfer to a new sport. Sports like bobsleigh, rowing and athletics are filled with explosive athletes who come to these sports later in life – and RBC Training Ground knows there are hidden stars waiting to be found.

    Athletes are evaluated on their speed, power, strength and endurance through several different tests. They are also aiming to achieve performance benchmarks set by National Sport Organizations (NSOs) scouting for talented athletes with Olympic medal potential.

    RBC has partnered with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), the Canadian Olympic Foundation (COF), CBC Sports and the Canadian Olympic Paralympic Sport Institute Network (COPSIN) to run the program.

    In Alberta, CSI Calgary has been engaged to plan the local qualifiers at five Alberta Sport Development Centres (ASDC) and the regional finals at CSI Calgary. Miranda Sallis, Manager of Performance Services at CSI Calgary, is responsible for planning and managing the events and is also sending CSI Calgary physiology staff to help evaluate the athletes. “It’s a truly collaborative effort that requires a lot of coordination between the partners,” she says.

    Wendy Moar, ASDC NW Coordinator in Grande Prairie, is thrilled to host a local qualifier. “We are very excited to host the event and be a part of it,” says Moar. “It’s a huge role that our centre can fill – a big part of our purpose and mandate is specializing in providing sport science services that help athletes get to the next level and the RBC Training Ground Program aligns very well with that goal.”

    One athlete looking for a break is Jamie Strauss, a fifth-year volleyball player at Grande Prairie Regional College. Strauss, 23, is looking to make use of her athletic talents to make the jump from volleyball to a new sport like rowing. “I think it’s an amazing opportunity for athletes like me,” she says. “I’m excited to go out and see what I can do.”

    Up to 50 athletes from across the country could receive additional funding, mentorship and support from RBC and the COF to fuel their passion and Olympic dreams. The top performer from each RBC Training Ground regional final will also receive the ultimate Olympic experience – a trip to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

    Being discovered is a thrilling prospect for any athlete, but more importantly what the RBC Training Ground program offers is another avenue within the sport system for them to reach their goals. “I see it as an opportunity for an athlete to work towards and make it their goal to be a part of the program,” says Moar. “It opens up a lot of opportunities.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    01/02/17

  • (left to right:  Rachael Anderson, Emma Stevens, Rachael Karker)

    “The Olympics are the ultimate dream.” So says young Canadian Slopestyle skier Max Moffat. The NextGen team member moved west to Calgary from Caledon, Ontario two years ago to train at what he says is the best halfpipe facility in Canada, located at WinSport. Given that that the slopestyle ski event was only added to the Olympic program in 2014, the ultimate dream has evolved at a record pace.


    Freestyle Canada has moved quickly to keep up, establishing development programs like the NextGen team. The goal is to foster a highly professional training environment for its best young athletes to grow into future Olympic champions. The ‘Park & Pipe’ team, as it is known, is comprised of Slopestyle and Halfpipe athletes identified as having high medal potential in 2022.

    The program was established through a collaborative partnership between Freestyle Canada, the CSI Calgary, WinSport and Own the Podium (OTP). The program operates under a camp-based model where the athletes come together in one location frequently throughout the year for intense training camps.

    “We’re here because of the facilities,” says Freestyle Canada’s Director of High Performance Athlete Programs, Julie Stegall. “The half-pipe is the best in the country and is maintained at World Cup standards. Freestyle Canada and WinSport have put a lot of resources into that pipe.”

    The CSI Calgary recognizes the importance of establishing a high standard of care and professionalism for the team. “We really worked hard to treat them like a National Team,” explains Miranda Sallis, Manager of Performance Services. “Before the team started training at CSI Calgary there was a high injury rate so things like physiotherapy have been a huge focus so far,” she adds.

    With their sights set on the Olympics in 2022, Stegall says the level of professionalism among the athletes and coaches is impressive. “The athletes are ready for this kind of support,” she says. “We knew this was coming and we have a strong group. Things are brewing in the pipe.”

    For Moffat, 18, the chance to train alongside athletes from different sports has been an eye-opening and inspiring experience. “At first it was funny to see how the other athletes train. I’d be in the gym and look over at the bobsledders running down the track dragging weights behind them,” he recalls, laughing. “At first it was a bit intimidating, like ‘I don’t deserve to be here’, but now it’s really motivating to train alongside those guys.”

    Stegall says the NextGen athletes are extremely thankful for their new training facilities. “Every time they walk into the CSI Calgary they feel special and are so appreciative of the opportunity.”

    Moffatt says he’s ‘stoked’ to be a part of this team and that it doesn’t get any better than where he is now. “The hill is awesome. The Halfpipe and Slopestyle setup is amazing. We have everything we need in one spot.”

    The NextGen Freestyle athletes are vying for Canada's coveted World Cup spots to prove they have what it takes to make it on the world stage.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    07/12/16

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