Canadian Sport Instute
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  • The Sport Performance Laboratory has been upgraded thanks to a generous donation from a party who wishes to remain anonymous.

    The Sport Performance Laboratory is a critical component of the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary’s success because it is where much of the athletes’ training and monitoring takes place. Rosemary Neil, Director of Development and Strategic Programs at the CSIC, says that the $100,000 lab upgrade is “vitally important to gathering detailed information for athletes. We couldn’t function without it.”

    Barry Heck, WinSport’s President and CEO, was instrumental in working with the anonymous foundation to secure the donation and make the improvements needed.

    The majority of the donation was used to install a fume hood in order to properly ventilate gases. With the upgrades, the lab is now classified as a level 2 laboratory, meaning it can deal with biohazards. It also has procedures in place to handle pathogens, bringing it to a safety standard that is acceptable by Health Canada.

    One of the main functions of the new equipment is to enable athletes to do the hemoglobin mass test, a protocol that uses carbon monoxide. A poisonous gas, carbon monoxide requires proper ventilation equipment, including a fume hood. The test is important to CSIC athletes because it has a high correlation with an athlete’s VO2 max, allowing the sport scientists to monitor and track an athlete’s development. These protocols, enabled by the lab upgrades, will increase the effectiveness of athletes’ training programs by allowing for the use of altitude or heat.

    As very few labs in Canada have the ability to do these types of protocols, this technology is yet another way that Rosemary Neil says the CSIC will remain on “the leading edge, because we are able to perform these tests to help monitor and evaluate athletes.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary

    Written by Brittany Schussler: @bschussler

    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto

  • CSICalgary Flames-0556The Calgary Flames are well prepared for their upcoming season, thanks in part to their work with members of the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary. The Flames began their 2014 training camp at the WinSport Performance Training Centre at Canada Olympic Park on September 11, 2014. Assessments commenced with annual medicals and fitness testing using the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary's world-leading sport science and sport medicine teams. On ice workouts began the following day, drawing public crowds anxious to assess the team's potential for the 2014-15 season.

    The players had all systems firing during their fitness testing, where intense competition combined with good camaraderie could be heard throughout the building. The Flames' support staff have continued their testing largely because of their long-standing relationship with the Canadian Sport Institute's Sport Science Director Dr. David Smith, which has enabled the team to amass years' worth of physiological testing data. The data allows for veteran Flames players to monitor their physiological improvements over time, as well as helping the coaching staff determine the fitness and strength of new players.

    Ryan Van Asten, strength and conditioning coach for the Calgary Flames noted that the players and staff of the Flames organization are appreciative of the facilities, saying, "The Canadian Sport Institute is truly state of the art. It is a place an athlete can go to meet all of their physical preparation needs including performance testing/monitoring, physical fitness, recovery, nutrition, and rehabilitation. We are fortunate to have this world leading institute right in our own backyard." Van Asten's sentiment resonates with many of Canada's best sports federations, which has resulted in the Flames becoming just one of many elite sports teams that does their training and testing at the new facility. Similar testing protocols are utilized amongst many of the country's best amateur athletes including members of the Canadian Wrestling, Bobsleigh, Skeleton, Alpine, Luge, and Speed Skating teams.

    In addition to the benefits provided in the sport science realm, coaches and team staff were able to use Winsport's complex to its full advantage by meeting in conference rooms overlooking the ice rinks while the players used off the ice facilities. Over the course of September, the players could be seen throughout the Centre doing weightlifting sessions, shuttle runs, bike workouts, and yoga classes.

    The Flames' organization has also taken advantage of the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary's world-leading biomechanical analysis team, led by Pro Stergiou. During their past season, the team's support staff members worked with the biomechanical team to determine the amount of force placed at the ankle joint using state-of-the-art sensors, cameras, and techniques, to gather information and help bring players back from injury in a safe and expedient manner.

    The Calgary Flames begin the regular season on October 8 with a home opener against the Vancouver Canucks. Be there to witness the final product of the team's astounding off-season efforts.

    Stay in the loop!
    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Writen by Brittany Schussler: @bschussler
    WinSport: www.winsport.ca

  • Not many Olympic medalists have a Ph.D. in neuroscience, but Dr. Tara Whitten is an exception. The CSI Calgary athlete and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in track cycling became fascinated with the human brain upon reading a book on the topic in high school. She came away with the sense that neuroscience is a field where a lot of unsolved mysteries remain. Her new passion for the brain nurtured a desire to help solve these mysteries.

    Years later, as Whitten was finishing her Ph.D., which focused on studying electrophysiology in the hippocampus (a part of the brain that is important in learning and memory), she was trying to think of how she could bridge the gap between neuroscience and sport – her two passions in life. “I thought there might be a way to combine the two,” she says. “In the end I thought concussion would be a perfect fit.”

    But first there was the little matter of chasing her final Olympic dream. For 2016, Whitten chose to focus on the individual time trial in cycling and became a legitimate medal contender. Improbably, in March, during her final preparations leading up to the Games she suffered a debilitating neck injury from a crash during a training ride on the course in Rio.

    At first, Whitten’s recovery was uncertain and unpredictable – she had a concussion and broken bone at the base of her skull. This uncertainty led to thoughts about the future. “I was still recovering from my accident in Rio and I wasn’t really sure how things would go,” she says. “In that situation I was thinking a lot about what I was going to do.”

    In the end, she pushed through a remarkable recovery and finished an impressive seventh place in Rio. Despite good feelings about her performance, she still laments that she could have done better, but she will have no time to dwell on the past – a new challenge awaits.

    Dr. Brian Benson is the Chief Medical Officer and Director of Sport Medicine at the CSI Calgary and has a clinical consulting practice in Sport Medicine at the WinSport Medicine Clinic with a special interest in acute sport concussion. He was Whitten’s physician during her recovery, but now he’ll be her co-supervisor as she begins working as a postdoctoral fellow in his concussion research group.

    Despite having a concussion herself and being under the care of Dr. Benson, Whitten came across the job posting honestly – an internet search for a postdoctoral position in Calgary in concussion research. “I was still wearing the neck brace during the interview,” she laughs.

    The two-year position is jointly funded by Own the Podium and Mitacs, a national, not-for-profit funding organization. Whitten’s work will focus primarily on measuring and assessing visual impairments in concussion patients. Using robotic technology developed by Dr. Benson, Whitten will develop a task to measure oculomotor function, which will expand the existing capabilities of the diagnostic tool.

    According to Dr. Benson, there is currently no task or program available to measure oculomotor function in concussion patients. “Tara will be breaking new ground with her research.” He says vision problems are common in concussion patients, such as difficulty focusing, which can lead to dizziness, but are difficult to assess in a clinical setting. Whitten’s research will help remove the subjective component of assessing and monitoring concussions and when an athlete is ready to return to play.

    Whitten wasn’t able to benefit from this testing herself during her injury, something she thinks could have helped her recovery. “There was a window of time when I thought I was 100% but every once in a while something would happen that made me question that,” she says. “Having this test would have helped me know if I was fully recovered or not.”

    Her unique background as an athlete and neuroscientist, as well as her recent experience with a concussion injury, made her the ideal candidate to join Dr. Benson’s team. “She brings a high performance perspective, a neuroscience degree and training in programming and analysis,” says Dr. Benson. “She is the perfect fit for our concussion program.”

    For Whitten, it feels strange how everything came together. Ph.D., Olympian and concussion, all converging at a time and place that feels right as she transitions away from life as an athlete. “I feel very lucky to have something to focus on. I feel that there are a lot of possibilities and I’m excited about it now.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    28/09/16

  • The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSIC) is proud to announce that Kelly Anne Erdman will be awarded the 2015 Dietitians of Canada Ryley Jeffs Memorial Lecture Award. Erdman is being recognized for her passion and dedication as a registered dietitian. Her career as a Performance Dietitian began 28 years ago at the Canadian Sport Institute's inception.

    Erdman will receive the honours at the Dietitians of Canada's annual conference in Quebec City on June 6. This award is given to individuals who have shown vision and pioneering spirit in their field. Erdman fits the criteria of exemplifying "the ideals of dedication to the profession and has a proven ability to chart new directions in the field of dietetics." As an award recipient, she has been asked to give a forty-minute presentation inspiring the audience to contribute to their respective professions through extraordinary work.

    To describe Erdman as a pioneer in the field of Sports Nutrition is an understatement. Erdman has authored 7 peer-reviewed journal articles and was the first dietitian to research the supplementation habits and dietary intakes of Canadian athletes. Her passion for sport nutrition is grounded in her own experiences as a high performance athlete. Erdman was a member of the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Team as a track cyclist. She has worked with a wide variety of sports at the CSIC throughout her career, including the 4-time Olympic Gold Medallist Women's Hockey Team.

    Erdman's involvement has been integral to the continued advancements within the CSIC. She has been a driving force in keeping the Institute and its athletes world-leading, helping to develop the popular Fuel For Gold menus, the curriculum for the National Coaching Program, sponsorships for supplements and food products, and the third-party testing of athlete supplements. Her ingenuity has also been integral to athletic communities across the country. This has been demonstrated through her work with a variety of organizations such as the Calgary Flames, whose game day nutrition plans were written by Erdman. She has also done extensive writing for several different groups such as coach.ca and the Sport Medicine Council of Alberta.

    The CSIC and its athletes are proud to have an asset such as Kelly Anne Erdman on their team. Her life-long commitment to the CSIC and support of high performance athletes has resulted in research derived knowledge and athlete medals. For these reasons, the Ryley Jeffs Memorial Lecture Award could not be going to a more deserving candidate.

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

  • McDougall Training with GallingerShane Esau and Tessa Gallinger did not set out to become the country's leading parasport exercise physiologist and strength and power para-specialist. They each had set out on traditional sport career paths at the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary and fell into the relatively unchartered world of parasport science. Now, Esau and Gallinger are running programs for 32 athletes across 13 different sports. The athletes that they train are competing in spite of disabilities that include spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, amputation, and visual impairment, all with varying degrees of severity.

    Esau and Gallinger firmly believe that the work of the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary is second to none in Canada. Operating under the mission to be a key contributor to Canada's world-leading Olympic and Paralympic podium performances, Esau credits the work of the Institute's leaders, Dale Henwood, Jason Poole, Rosemary Neil, and Dr. David Smith as being "instrumental in being able to have the program we do." By blurring the line that traditionally exists between able-bodied and parasports, these industry experts have allowed for the funding, time, and research necessary to improve the training systems needed to become world-leaders in the realm of parasports.

    The program has already seen success, bringing home 6 medals from the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, and 5 medals from the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Much of that can be attributed to the work done by the dynamic combination of Esau and Gallinger, who are swift to mention the support contributed by their colleague Jared Fletcher, a PhD student in exercise physiology at the University of Calgary. The parasport program, run by the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary, aims to continue its growth with the implementation of a new practicum program focusing on Paralympic strength and conditioning at the University of Calgary.

    Due to the enormous range in abilities, Gallinger and Esau's positions involve conducting extensive research into every individual athlete's health concerns before creating their training programs. Even athletes with the same difficulties are treated on a case-by-case basis, because no two athletes react exactly alike to intense training.

    One of the biggest challenges that Gallinger has found facing para-athletes is their unfamiliarity with basic body movements. Because of their disabilities, athletes have often been limited in their ability to participate in physical education classes and recreational sports. As an example, Gallinger points out that before working with her, "a lot of athletes did not know how to skip. Once they learn, they excel." Esau has noticed also recognized this trend, saying, "The athletes are novices in terms of learning how to move their bodies even though they are great athletes."

    Esau and Gallinger are undeniably big supporters of each other's work, and have mutual admiration for the passion that their athletes exhibit. The unwavering support from the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary, along with the University of Calgary and WinSport, has enabled the parasport program to continue to grow up until this point. With a goal of being the world-leading Paralympic team in the future, the team is continuing their research and specialization by building on the incredible foundation that has been set.

    Stay in the loop!
    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Brittany Schussler: @bschussler
    Photo by Dave Holland: @davehollandpics
    Tessa Gallinger: @TessaGallinger
    Shane Esau: @Parasport_sci

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  • Many of the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary's (CSIC) specialists have had the privilege of being recognized as national leaders within their respective fields. This list includes Registered Dietitian Kelly Drager, who recently spent time in Montreal sharing her research findings with other sports experts from around the country.

    Drager presented in Montreal after being asked by Own the Podium to facilitate two different sessions at the Montreal Sport Innovation (SPIN) Summit 2014. The Montreal symposium was the 9th annual conference put on by Own the Podium, whose conferences have the goal of "developing and networking in the areas of applied sport science, sport medicine, and sport innovation."

    Drager was enthusiastic about the opportunity to share her knowledge at the conference, believing that "SPIN is a great opportunity to connect in person with colleagues and other sport science disciplines. The collaborative candid conversations are often what initiates the creative thinking process, leading to future projects that will further the development of athletes to the highest level possible."

    One of the topics that Drager shared her knowledge about was the concept of Relative Energy Deficiency for Sport (RED-S). RED-S is a syndrome that refers to impaired physiological function including metabolic rate, menstrual function, bone health, immunity, protein synthesis, and cardiovascular health. Along with the interdisciplinary panel of fellow specialists Shaunna Taylor, Trent Stellingwerff, and Adrienne Leslie-Toogood, Drager presented on RED-S and its implications for all coaches and Integrated Support Team members (IST). The group also introduced implications and strategies for paramedical staff, sport scientists, coaches and sport leaders who are looking to improve performance while maintaining athlete health.

    The second facilitation Drager was asked to lead was titled Weight Management Consideration for Athletes. Drager's main goal for the session was to facilitate discussion for determining appropriate weight and body composition for athletes. This is a key consideration for IST members, as often managing weight is necessary for performance and body composition demands are extremely sport specific. Drager addressed issues such as how weight and body composition targets are determined for athletes, key components that should be considered when assessing if an athlete is at an appropriate weight, and what the best approaches to achieve desired changes for an athlete are.

    Drager's work at the CSIC has provided her with the incredible opportunity to further her professional development while working with teams such as the National Wrestling Team and Bobsleigh Skeleton Canada. At the SPIN conference, she was able to share knowledge gained through her work with CSIC teams during one of her workshops by presenting a case study on the consequences of health and performance which reviewed current evidence based approaches to effectively facilitate fat loss while maintaining or gaining lean tissue in the athletic population. The combination of being able to elevate athletes' performances while also making progress within the ever-evolving field of nutrition is a benefit that Drager knows is enabled by the leaders of the CSIC who are always striving to be a step ahead of the international competition.

    Drager recognizes that the environment created at the CSIC has helped her, along with other IST members, stay ahead of the curve when it comes to research. She acknowledges that, "At CSIC we have the ability to directly interact with the athletes on a daily basis as well as the other sport science members of the IST. Seeing the athletes train maximally everyday is motivating, creates a sense of national pride and definitely encourages everyone working within the team to do the best to foster excellence."

    Stay in the loop!

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

  • Big Data... it’s everywhere. Big Problem? Not anymore says Graeme Challis, Exercise Specialist at CSI Calgary. Although a relatively small data set compared to large industries, the field of high performance sport generates a great deal of information that has historically been dispersed across several software platforms, leading to a limited ability to utilize it effectively.

    “Before we had data all over the place,” says Challis. “There were Excel spreadsheets everywhere!” Enter Edge 10, a central, web-based storage platform for data to live, now used by several sports and facilitated by CSI Calgary.

    Edge 10’s key benefits are the centralization and consolidation of data storage, which leads to more effective use of the information. The cloud-based technology allows for easy entering, analyzing, reporting and sharing of athlete data both efficiently and securely. It is a fully customizable and integrated database that enables sports to develop performance solutions unique to their needs.

    In the past, CSI Calgary physiologists like Scott Maw, who leads the Integrated Support Team (IST) for long track speed skating, spent inordinate amounts of time combining pieces of information about an athlete from several different places.

    “Before we were spending too much time gathering the data and not enough time analyzing it,” says Maw. “Now I can spend my time actually analyzing the data, which helps us make better, evidence-based decisions.” The platform has greatly enhanced how the IST and coaches can tailor training programs to individual athletes.

    One key area addressed by Edge 10 is athlete monitoring. In long track speed skating this effort has been spearheaded by Maw, which has helped revolutionize the way coaches are able to assess their athletes’ response to training loads.

    “In the past, the extent of the monitoring we did was to track an athlete’s resting heart rate – if it was 10 beats higher than normal we just assumed the athlete would get sick,” jokes Todd McClements, Stage 4 coach at Speed Skating Canada. “The monitoring we do now is lightyears ahead compared with just five years ago, it has evolved so quickly.”

    Edge 10 accumulates many sources of data on an athlete, good and bad, such as subjective questionnaires and objective measures like heart rate variability and training loads. This is analyzed in parallel with other data like physiological testing results and physiotherapy assessments to determine areas of stress.

    “Now we can see everything at once and start to understand the relationships between various loads on the body,” says Challis. “It helps us tease out what matters and what changes will make a difference for a particular athlete.”

    The monitoring also helps to bridge the gap between intention and outcome. “What is prescribed by the coach isn’t always what is executed by the athlete,” says Challis. “If an athlete goes too hard for a program intended to be easy, monitoring data can identify that stress and the IST can make necessary adjustments, which could help prevent injury or overreaching.”

    McClements is quick to point out that Edge 10 is by no means a panacea or crystal ball – sport is far too complex to predict the future. But he is grateful that Edge 10 provides more efficient analyzing of data for decision making.

    “It’s never black and white,” he says. “But now it’s much less grey.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto
    25/05/17

  • Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) Performance Dietitian Kelly Drager has been leading her field through an innovative project with members of the Canadian Wrestling Team. The project has been funded through Innovations 4 Gold (I4G), an applied sport research program led by Own The Podium.

    Drager and CSI Calgary Strength and Conditioning Coach Mac Read, with help from Research and Innovation Lead Erik Groves, have been gathering information to determine an ideal way for wrestlers to lose weight for competition weigh-ins, while minimizing the impact that it has on their performance. The data set that has been collected so far is from three different competitions (Pan-American Championships, PanAm Games, and World Championships) and according to Drager, could have a significant impact on performance and provide “progress for the sport.”

    Their research aims to give athletes a performance plan that they can use to take the guesswork out of cutting weight. This should reduce stress on weigh-ins and thus place more emphasis on performance. Of the results, Drager says, “We are now starting to see trends within weight categories. It is beneficial to have a bandwidth for each weight category, creating specific guidelines.”

    The team has tracked athletes’ weight and urine specific gravity (level of hydration) during weight cutting. The data shows how they rebound from weigh-ins to competition time. These weight cutting curves can help athletes use consistent, predictable plans at major events. Currently, Read and Drager are observing what is happening during regular training. By monitoring the athletes’ heart rate, rate of perceived exertion, weight, and urine specific gravity, they are able to identify what is normal during training weeks.

    This project is particularly exciting because as Drager says, “It is very applicable to other weight category sports such as judo. Preparing these athletes for enhanced performance is the goal.”

    Long-term, this project will also be useful to developmental athletes who will be able to recognize that performance, not weight cutting, is the main goal of the sport. For younger athletes, Drager wants to promote “better health, growth and bone development.”

    Ultimately, this data set will help Canada’s top wrestlers have stronger performances on the international stage. However, more importantly, Drager emphasizes that it “is going to help ensure better development and health of athletes.”

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

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  • Injuries, especially serious ones, can be devastating for athletes. Injuries are unwelcome, difficult and challenge athletes in ways they are not accustomed to – forced rest, recovery, and exercise only aimed at regaining lost capabilities. There is one injury that can be particularly debilitating and disheartening to overcome however, one that can indefinitely suck the life out of an athlete and compromise quality of life: concussion.

    A concussion is a brain injury that occurs when an athlete sustains a blow to the head, neck or any other part of his or her body that transmits an impulsive force to the brain. It results in immediate, myriad and often long-term symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, light sensitivity and blurred vision. Athletes can also experience slowed reaction times, irritability, confusion or the sensation of being in a ‘fog’.

    Impaired brain function from a concussion clouds many abilities we take for granted – those that athletes depend on for performance – like reaction time, balance, concentration and judgement. The athlete’s ability to make decisions at the time when they so anxiously want to heal and return to sport is compromised. They end up desperate and powerless to answer just one simple question: “When will I feel normal again?”

    Thankfully for concussed athletes, there is world-leading sport concussion expert Dr. Brian Benson, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Sport Medicine at the CSI Calgary. Dr. Benson is passionate about continuously improving the standard of care for concussed athletes. Over the last several years, he and his research team have developed a ground-breaking new protocol for assessing impairment in concussed athletes using a cutting-edge robotic device call the KINARM (Kinesiologic Instrument for Normal and Altered Reaching Movements).

    With support from Own the Podium, WinSport, the CSI Calgary and Hotchkiss Brain institute, the KINARM was developed to provide objective, reliable, accurate and quantifiable measurements of brain function. When an athlete suffers a concussion, post-injury results are compared to previously established baseline testing to determine brain impairment.

    “This technology and the testing we have developed is a game-changer for high performance athletes,” says Benson. “We can accurately and objectively measure things like an athlete’s split-second decision making, visual spatial planning and movement coordination, and compare that to their baseline testing, which can help us determine whether an athlete is fully recovered from a concussion or at risk of further injury.”

    The testing is objective relative to human observation and may reveal additional subtle abnormalities that a clinical examination and cognitive assessment may not. This means that the KINARM can bring clarity and objectivity to the fuzzy zone of concussion recovery. Says Benson, “The testing can help the multidisciplinary management team with tough-decision making when it comes to figuring out when an athlete is ready to return.”

    Jon Kolb, Director of Sport Science, Medicine and Innovation at Own the Podium says the decision to support Dr. Benson’s research and the KINARM was borne out of a need to fill a gap in concussion care. “We did it because the world was void of a valid baseline measurement,” he says. “We felt some responsibility to ensure we have a valid baseline measurement so that when athletes get concussed we can help.”

    With this new tool, Dr. Benson and his team have revolutionized the way that concussions are diagnosed, monitored and managed. This is invaluable to high performance athletes because it offers a clear path to recovery as well as a safeguard against the risk re-injury can have on long-term health. As difficult as the healing process may be to endure, according to Benson, this safeguard is one of the technology’s key advantages. “You can’t fool the machine,” he says.

    This technology is now available to the public through the Benson Concussion Institute and WinSport's new sport concussion program. For more information visit www.winsport.ca.

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

  • During the weeks and days before competition, the Olympic infrastructure and organization for a successful Summer Games was in question.

    And then the Games began. And Team Canada came out in full force.

    The CSI Calgary’s Tara Whitten was able to come back from a freak accident that left her in a neck brace for 10 weeks. Her training in April and May was severely curtailed yet she finished seventh in the Road Cycling Individual Time Trial. It was a superhuman, herculean effort that is difficult to comprehend considering the nature of the injury and time required to allow the bone to heal.

    Track Cycling teammates Allison Beveridge and Kirsti Lay brought home a bronze medal in the Women’s Team Pursuit. Allison is an Alberta athlete who overcame a serious injury early this year to compete. Kirsti Lay came through the Talent Lab program at CSI Calgary on her path to making the national and Olympic teams.

    CSI Calgary’s Erica Wiebe unabashedly won gold in women’s 75kg wrestling, belting out “O Canada” with tears streaming and the enthusiasm of an entire nation behind her. Such unrestrained emotion is not the stuff of Olympic puffery – it is pure, unadulterated joy. We are all benefactors in her accomplishment.

    And the fourths and the lasts, they mean something too, whether we know it or not. Honest, humble, fierce – unequivocally Canadian.

    These are the stories that matter. Not to the IOC or to the sponsors or even to the fans, but to the athletes, who give us everything of themselves, win or lose.

    They rise above the noise until it fades away and all that remains is their space, their opponent, their race and the inner sanctum of competition. Their playing field is sacred and within its confines the athletes are free to compete, unencumbered by the circus outside. They simply shine.

    This glimpse into the true Olympic Games is what engages us still – we believe in their goodness and so we should.

    While it’s true that many of the issues in Rio and around the world are serious and cause for grave concern, they are neither the fault nor the burden of the athletes, who are there simply to compete for their country. While they cannot make the world’s problems go away, they can help us believe that a better world is possible through their sportsmanship, humility and determination.

    The CSI Calgary is proud and honoured to work alongside these athletes as they pursue their Olympic dreams. We share their joy and sorrow, triumph and defeat. Their stories are good news to us and to all Canadians.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    24/08/16

  • The once mighty stopwatch, in its heyday a technological marvel capable of measuring and recording time for any number of purposes, especially sport, has finally met its match. The development of a new timing system at the Olympic Oval has made the use of stopwatches by speed skating coaches during training a thing of the past.

    The joint project between CSI Calgary and the Olympic Oval was funded by Own the Podium’s I4G (Innovation for Gold) program and the Olympic Oval and serves to address a major gap in measuring how a skater’s time is impacted by the way they skate. Using hardware technology developed for motor sport racing and a proprietary software program developed by Olympic Oval IT Specialist, John Little, the system provides a detailed measurement of a skater’s performance.

    “In the past we only knew that one athlete was slower than another athlete, but we didn’t always know how,” says Scott Maw, CSI Calgary Sport Science Lead for Speed Skating. “The timing system enables us to identify where on the track a skater is losing time relative to another skater.”

    During training, a skater wears a chip on each ankle, which sends a timing impulse to a master clock every time a wire embedded in the ice is crossed. The system records and calculates the times and velocities for 16 segments around the track, offering a more refined picture of skating speed during each lap.

    The system provides real-time streaming data to coaches and staff for athlete's lap times, current velocity, current position on the track, corner lane identification, set duration and total training time, all on a customizable mobile phone or tablet interface. A coach can have all their active athletes displayed simultaneously on a single screen.

    For speed skating coach Crispin Parkinson, the new system has made a big difference. “It frees me up to coach more, instead of managing the practice,” he says. “I don’t have to schedule when everyone should do their specific intervals, which means I can get more done in a session. It’s a more effective use of time.”

    Dr. Erik Groves, Research and Innovation Lead at CSI Calgary, spearheaded the project. He says that with the data collected so far they have barely scratched the surface of the system’s potential. “Eventually we'll be able to get daily, weekly, monthly and yearly training breakdowns of distance skated, speed distribution, sets, and reps,” he explains. “We'll also be able to use the system for physiological testing and race analysis.”

    Parkinson says it adds another layer to the information he can share with his skaters. “A skater might not always feel what I’m telling them about their skating but the data can illustrate this and provide feedback to the athlete in a different way they might understand better.”

    Unfortunately, the sad demise of the humble stopwatch was inevitable – the speed skating world has moved on to bigger and better things that ultimately make the sport better. “It’s a useful tool which has helped me a lot and makes my job easier,” says Parkinson. “I do less management and more coaching.”

    Interesting stats from 2016-2017 season:

    • Total recorded kilometers skated: 92,551

    • Velocity segments recorded: ~3,855,700

    • Most frequently skated lap time in seconds: 35-36

    • Most kilometers skated by an athlete in a day: 51.6

     

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto
    26/04/17

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