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
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  • 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

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  • Imagine that you are world-class alpine skier. Every year you get about sixty days of training on snow, where you fit in up to six runs a day of about 60-90 seconds each. That’s roughly six to ten minutes a day of skiing over sixty days. Doesn’t sound like much, does it?

    But when you factor in the logistics, coordination, early wake-ups, travel and endless transporting of gear, those six runs add up to one very big, long day.

    According to Matt Jordan, Director of Strength and Conditioning at CSI Calgary, training for alpine skiing is not the same as most other sports. “The days are long with a lot of logistics and travel, which can be very fatiguing. Skiers get tired in a very different way than the average athlete,” he explains.

    That is why, when the alpine team centralizes for a month-long training camp every summer at CSI Calgary, they put in incredibly long, challenging and diverse days of training. “With this camp, we are trying to set them up with big, long days of training with a variety of activities to develop their work capacity to handle the demands of the sport,” says Jordan.

    This is the sixth camp for Phil Brown, 25, a slalom skier and team veteran. He says he enjoys his time in Calgary every year. “There are long days and it’s very focused. But everybody here has bought in and are really excited about what we have going; there is a positive vibe.”

    In addition to a lot of mornings in the gym weightlifting, there are on-ice edge and gliding sessions to practice slalom turns and outdoor field workouts focused on jumping, landing and general strength.

    Perhaps the most unusual session is the one in the boxing ring. Every Thursday afternoon the team takes to throwing punches instead of carving turns. The goal is to learn skills that transfer to skiing, like eye-hand coordination, but where fitness improves too. “It’s a layered workout where physiological goals are met and the skill development is tied in,” says Jordan.

    Add in aerobic power workouts on track bikes at the velodrome and you have several weeks of some very diverse training. “We are pushing them in different ways,” adds Jordan. For Brown, the training is great but it’s enjoyable too. “It’s not fun to be in the gym all the time so we’ve been incorporating a lot of different activities in the afternoon sessions, which help keep the atmosphere lighter,” he says.

    All of these activities develop skills that skiers rely on when they are training and racing on snow. “The idea is to foster their ability to take in environmental information, process it and generate a motor response,” explains Jordan. “This will help them on the hill where conditions are always changing and they have to react appropriately.”

    The overriding goal of the camp is to ensure the athletes understand that their performance is triangulated, where the coach, strength team, para-medical team and all other support staff are working together to find as many benefits they can to help the athlete perform. Ultimately this gives the athletes confidence that they are prepared for the season.

    Preparation is key, and so is staying healthy. Jordan says that because alpine skiing is such a high-risk sport they also focus on training that will help them be fit, strong and able to move in a safe way to help avoid injury. “After a camp like this they feel like they are better athletes.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto
    28/06/17
  • The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) has become a training hub for professional athletes looking to make offseason gains. For athletes that are typically part of large teams, the CSI Calgary is unique in its ability to evaluate the athletes’ needs and create programs that are customized to meet individual goals.

    A group of Calgary Stampeders are currently calling the CSI Calgary home, including Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, Linebacker Deron Mayo and Wide Receiver Anthony Parker. Sam Hurl from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Running Back Matt Walter and Atlanta Braves draft pick Mike Soroka are also making their offseason gains at the CSI Calgary.

    Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Osmond has earned a reputation as the sought-after advisor for the professionals, with a knack for designing training programs that meet the specific needs of each pro. He notes, “It is really great to have professional athletes train at the CSI Calgary. The professional athletes that train here love working within the culture that we have created. It provides a one stop shop for them because everything they need is here under one roof.”

    Matt Walter is credited with being the catalyst to the group training at the CSI Calgary. Born and raised in Calgary, the former University of Calgary Dino began working with Osmond in December 2015. He says he “knew there was a lot I needed to address physically. I had made good progress the previous offseason but did not get the results I wanted, and I felt that my body was breaking down a bit. I wanted somewhere to go where I could invest in myself, the best possible place to train at that I could find. I did my research and found the CSI Calgary. I feel that I have been on the right path ever since.”

    Hearing his teammate’s rave reviews, Texas-born Bo Levi Mitchell joined the CSI Calgary because he was interested in “training next to Olympians. Those are the people that are hungry.” After doing intake testing that included body composition and cardiovascular fitness, he admits, “I had never done anything like that before.” Mitchell’s results emphasized his need for a customized program that is more cardio-based than his CSI Calgary teammates. Already he is impressed with the results, saying, “After 15 years of playing football, I have only been with the CSI Calgary and Chris for one month and I know I am in the best shape that I have ever been in. Chris knows the ins and outs of everything that we are doing. The atmosphere is better than anywhere I have ever been, and being around the Olympic athletes is fantastic.”

    2014 Grey Cup Champions Walter and Mitchell are so impressed with their progress thus far that they plan to continue working with Osmond until the begining of training camp, as well as throughout the football season. As Walter emphasizes, “Chris has been the best trainer I have ever had the opportunity to work with. He is next level, and knows what he is doing to such a high degree. Everything he throws at me is making me better.”

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

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  • When asked the single most important piece of advice for a young up and coming strength coach, Director of Strength and Conditioning Matt Jordan does not hesitate. “Find good mentorship.”

    With this in mind, Jordan and the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) started a program in 2002 to help develop aspiring strength coaches. Since then, Jordan estimates that over 100 students have gone through the practicum experience with at least one third having gone on to work in high performance sport.

    The CSI Calgary places emphasis on leading in the fields of education and mentorship because, Jordan says, “Many call the CSI Calgary a brain trust. We are essentially a legacy of knowledge and expertise that accumulates with every Olympic quadrennial. I think we are best known for blending the art and science of strength and conditioning. The course and the internship reflect this unique perspective.”

    Jordan is referring to the Strength and Conditioning Internship taking place from May-August 2016 and the Strength and Power Performance Course occurring May 5-7, 2016. Although the spring session of the course is currently full, Jordan is still accepting applications from internship candidates.

    The entire team of CSI Calgary strength coaches is involved in the course, with each mentor (coach) bringing a unique perspective. The course encompasses the full spectrum of strength and conditioning skills, including an optional pre-course seminar that involves a detailed workshop in the strength and power lab. The seminar covers the team’s approach to neuromuscular profiling and assessment including the asymmetry testing protocol that has become a signature assessment for the CSI Calgary.

    The internship aims to provide a well rounded experience which acts as a launching pad for future success. The CSI Calgary is looking for young strength coaches who see themselves working with top level athletes. Not only will the intern work with the head strength coaches to gain experience, they will also gain experience in the strength & power lab, on the floor and partaking in the team’s weekly meetings.

    Ultimately, Matt Jordan believes that the team at the CSI Calgary takes pride in prioritizing education and mentorship initiatives because, “At the end of the day, the job of an institute is to share knowledge and develop expertise. This is a key part of our purpose map at the CSI Calgary. It is our job to synthesize the relevant information and experience that we have amassed over the years in our efforts to help put Canadians on the podium, and to teach it to coaches and aspiring sport science professionals. I love sharing knowledge in this way.”

    To apply for the Strength and Conditioning Internship or register for future sessions of the Strength and Power Performance Course, visit www.csicalgary.ca for information.

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

  • Everyone knows that athletes work hard to improve, to achieve their goals, to win – it’s what they do and it’s why they are great. A lesser-known but equally driven cohort doing the same thing are athletes’ coaches. Quality coaches do not stand idly by while their athletes move forward - they travel alongside them, pursuing excellence in their own craft: the art and science of sport coaching. The world’s best learn from reflecting on their experiences, their athletes, peers and learning from sport scientists.

    Mike Stastook, Head Coach of the WinSport Academy Slopestyle and Big Air team, is one of these coaches who has enjoyed the successes of his athletes over the years, but made a decision to further challenge himself and find ways to make his coaching even more effective. Enrolling in the Advanced Coaching Diploma (ACD) offered at the CSI Calgary, Mike revamped his ”toolbox” and is seeing results. “The things I’ve started implementing since enrolling in the ACD are making their way to the podium,” says Stastook. “Last season was the best I’ve had professionally.”

    The ACD is a two-year competency-based program combining classroom study and experiential learning. The mission of the program is to develop world-class coaches who are capable of preparing athletes for podium performances in sport and life.

    According to Dr. Cari Din, the ACD is designed and delivered to align with adult learning best practices, “We have translated the most current research on how the world’s best coaches learn into a dynamic learning environment for coaches who are committed to growing.” Din is the Cohort Mentor as well as the Leadership and Coaching Effectiveness Expert in the Calgary-based ACD. She says, “Coaches in our program are tasked with applying evidence-based best practice and theory from class in their unique sport context.”

    The ACD also focuses on peer enriched learning. “A lot of discussion-based learning occurs in our structured learning community - coaches share, challenge and grow from each other’s experiences and unique perspectives.” Din believes that the multi-sport nature of the program adds to the richness of coach learning, “The coaches are enlivened by the diversity of the cohort – they are exposed repeatedly to ideas and practices that are totally out of their comfort zone. We have a lively and vivid culture that promotes curiosity, connection and deep understanding, it is a privilege to be part of a learning environment that is so impactful to the learners.”

    Indeed, Stastook knows that the success he’s had with his team at the WinSport Academy comes from the hard work he has put in to becoming a better coach. He credits the ACD with helping him chart a new path. “When you take an athlete, that at the beginning of the year started out ranking 172nd nationally and ended up 18th in the country, you know what you’re doing works, says Stastook. “If you feel your coaching has vastly improved since starting a program like this, how can it not benefit your athletes? And in the end that’s the reason you’re doing it.”

    The Advanced Coaching Diploma is a coach driven, expert led, peer enriched and mentor supported structured learning community that has been running for more than 22 years through CSI Calgary. For more information on the program contact Jason Sjostrom at jsjostrom@csicalgary.ca.

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

  • The Alberta Slalom Canoe Kayak Team lead by High Performance Head Coach Michael Holroyd has been improving in leaps and bounds, thanks in large part to a partnership they have formed with the Alberta Sport Development Centre (ASDC) Calgary and the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSIC).

    The diverse training group that has been utilizing the partnership since 2009 is currently comprised of 18 athletes at various levels in development. The group consists of 5 high performance athletes, 3 athletes one tier below high performance, and 10 additional athletes who are targeted as future stars. All have seen benefits from the organizations' unique partnership pooling their respective resources in order to provide the maximum level of support possible as opposed to dividing their respective contributions up in a less effective manner.

    Coach Holroyd, a Canoe Kayak National Team member for 10 years, retired from the sport in 2007 to begin working his way though the CSIC's renowned Coaching Diploma Program. After completing the Advanced Coaching Diploma Level 4 Program, he commenced work with the team and has seen amazing improvements in many of his athletes, including Haley Daniels and Adrian Cole, who came into the ASDC Calgary program as young athletes and have progressed to the National Senior and U23 Team, respectively.

    The team's biggest success stories thus far, Jessica Groenveld and Ben Hayward, are looking ahead to the Pan Am Games in Toronto in 2015. With the inclusion of Canoe Kayak in the Games for the first time, Groenveld is confident that the services the partnership has provided will continue to garner incredible international results, with the ultimate goal being to win a medal at the home Games.

    Holroyd, along with all of his athletes, knows that the biggest advantage the partnership has provided has been the opportunity to work with world leading specialists from the CSIC that they typically would not have access to. These experts include Sport Scientist Kelly Quipp, who conducts physiological testing on the athletes twice annually using a Kayak Ergometer in the state-of-the-art Sport Performance Laboratory at Canada Olympic Park. The team also utilizes the exclusive High Performance Training Centre a minimum of twice weekly in order to train with CSIC Strength and Conditioning Coach John Abreu. Mental Performance Coach Clare Fewster rounds out the group of CSIC experts that have actively contributed to the team's success through the partnership. Groenveld is convinced that these opportunities have enhanced her training, saying, "The collaboration of ASDC and CSIC has enabled us to access resources that are fundamental to athlete development and success. For myself, the strength gains made this year with John, and the ability to have specific training targets from testing with Kelly, are incredibly important."

    Coach Holroyd is equally thankful for the world class teamwork that goes into his program, saying, "We are really lucky here in Calgary to have the ASDC Calgary help athletes, collaboratively with our provincial association, work up to the National Team level where the CSIC programs kick in. Through this system, we have been able to use the world leading testing, strength and conditioning, and mental training service providers from the CSIC and bring it to our developing provincial athletes. This gives us consistent long-term data from testing and ensures that athletes stepping onto our National Teams are doing so with good fundamentals. This linear, consistent support has allowed our programs to help athletes to the fullest."

    Stay in the loop!

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

  • 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

  • The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary athletes are utilizing an advanced training device, the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill. Primarily used by injured athletes to facilitate rehabilitation, the treadmill allows the CSIC's therapists to reintegrate the functional movement of running into the athletes' training.

    The treadmill can be programmed by a therapist to a specific percentage of the athletes' body weight so that the loading on the musculoskeletal system is less than normal. For example, when an athlete is returning to training from a lower body injury they can use the Anti-Gravity Treadmill and start running while bearing only 50% of their body weight. As they improve, a greater percentage of their body weight can be introduced to increase the effective training load on the body. This allows them to run at a normal tempo and speed while still practicing good technique.

    The CSIC has had access to the equipment since opening its new training facility at Canada Olympic Park last year. CSIC's athletes are privileged to have convenient access to this advanced equipment, as shown through its use by "return to training" high performance athletes. Members of the public are able to purchase passes in order to accelerate their own recovery while under the supervision of a physiotherapist.

    Two advocates of the training device are track and field athletes Sam Effah and Natasha Jackson, who are both recovering from injuries in preparation for their 2016 Olympic Games qualifying competitions. Effah recently stated that the regular access to the treadmill has been "a major blessing." Jackson, who suffered a ruptured achilles tendon in 2014, believes that "the Anti-Gravity treadmill has been a great tool for my recovery... allowing me to gradually build back the strength in my achilles. It has allowed me to put my body through the motion of running. In addition, I am able to work my cardiovascular system in a similar way to how I would train on the track but at a much earlier stage in the recovery process."

    CSIC physiotherapist Jennifer Delich has seen athletes from a range of sports, such as figure skating and alpine skiing, benefit from using the Anti-Gravity Treadmill for rehabilitation. She is convinced that "there is nothing else like it," and notes that it has already proven to be effective in "return to training athletes" for an array of injuries such as muscle tears, ACL reconstruction, and patella femoral pain.

    The CSIC's use of the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill has proven to be an advantage for many athletes. With the Pan Am Games only months away, the ability to have injured athletes ahead of their expected healing process is a vital component in keeping the CSIC's athletes world-leading.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary

    Written by Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler

    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto

  • Olympic-bound freestyle wrestler Erica Wiebe remembers clearly the match that catapulted her onto the Canadian senior women’s team for the 2013 World Championships. On the morning of the wrestle-off that would determine who would make the team, she awoke to pounding on her hotel room door at 8:45 am. Her match was scheduled for 9:00 am. A mad rush ensued and she made it to the venue with three minutes to spare, but she was strangely calm – she was ready.

    Two quick and successful takedowns saw Wiebe win the match in a matter of minutes. “From the time I woke up to winning the match was twenty minutes!” she remembers, laughing. “But I was so prepared, I had visualized the match so many times, I knew what was going to happen. All of these things went wrong, like missing my alarm, but I was still ready.”

    Being ‘ready’ to compete is something all athletes aspire to. Whether it’s through determining the best pre-race routine or figuring out the ideal mindset in the weeks, days or minutes before a race, each athlete has their own way of getting ready for competition. Frank van den Berg, Director of Mental Performance at the CSI Calgary, helps athletes work towards their best state of readiness, through a concept he calls R.E.A.D.Y.

    R.E.A.D.Y came to van den Berg from a story he read in a text book years ago, where a coach asks his athlete, “Are you ready?” Her reply was, “No, not quite ready, yet!” The idea is that there is room in the final days, hours or minutes before competition for flexibility and openness in routine or mindset – there is space, and time, to get the last details in place before competition.

    van den Berg says, “I think it’s a good feeling to feel prepared - from training history, competition experience, routines and strategies for competition, but it’s okay to keep it open, be flexible, right up until the start.” The ‘Y’ in R.E.A.D.Y stands for ‘yet’.

    In some sports the ‘Y’ might be about the taper in the last few days, where top speed is the goal, i.e. it’s a physiological component. In alpine skiing it could be about inspection of the race hill in the days leading up as well as the day of, where changes in conditions could lead to making a change in approach or strategy.

    It’s all about keeping that last little bit open and flexible to be able to adapt to any situation that comes up. “When I first talk to athletes about the idea of R.E.A.D.Y they often feel a sense of freedom or relief. It gives them room to keep a few percentage points open. They don’t have to worry about it in advance,” says van den Berg.

    Denny Morrison, four-time Olympic medalist in long track speed skating, feels a sense of readiness from confidence he develops in his routines in the years prior to a big competition. “Sochi was the most ready I’ve ever felt,” he says. “Ready physically but also mentally. I nailed down a routine in the two Olympics before Sochi. I just felt so dialed.”

    Even still, there was room for letting himself experience how he was feeling without judgement. In the few days before his first race in Sochi he knew he wasn’t quite there physiologically but he knew that he would be ready on race day. “I always had confidence in the program that I would feel good on race day even if I didn’t feel great the days before,” he says.

    Readiness can be elusive, though. Both Wiebe and Morrison recall times where they felt ready but underperformed. For Wiebe, she underestimated her opponent’s strength at the 2014 World Championships and was thrown to the mat early. “That wasn’t the best mindset,” she remembers. “The best mindset I can have is when I go into it knowing that this is going to be a really tough match.” Looking back, Morrison says he was arrogant in how good he was feeling in the days before his races at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where he skated well below his potential.

    Ultimately, maintaining openness and flexibility to adapt can help the athlete stay in the moment and achieve a state of mindfulness that is central to a good performance. “It’s not a bad thing to not feel completely ready one month before the Olympics,” says van den Berg. “The athlete is only completely ready once they get to the start line.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    20/07/16

  • 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

  • A historic landmark in the Norwegian consciousness, the Holmenkollenn ski park in Oslo embodies more than a century of legendary Nordic skiing competitions. For one special day in 2016, it also embodied a historic result for Canada’s men’s biathlon relay team, who took home a first ever bronze medal in the 4x7.5km team event behind the Norwegians and Germans at the World Championships.

    The four-man crew, comprised of brothers Scott and Christian Gow, Brendan Green and Nathan Smith, is now being recognized for that feat at the upcoming Alberta Sport Awards, hosted by CSI Calgary partner, Alberta Sport Connection, winning the 2016 Team of the Year award.

    “It was an amazing day for us,” says team veteran Nathan Smith. “Oslo is the big mecca for Nordic skiing and we were racing in front of huge crowds.” He says that although Norway took the win, it was fun to be in the battle for beating the home team. “The atmosphere around the medal was almost better than the medal,” he jokes.

    Smith was tagged for doping control before the end of the race and was forced to watch the end play out for his team from indoors. He says it was nerve-wracking to see the finish but was elated when the team’s anchor skier, Brendan Green, crossed in third for the bronze medal.

    For all four team members, it was a very special race and a very special day. “Winning the bronze was kind of unbelievable,” says Scott Gow. “We knew it was possible but it takes all four guys having a perfect race on the same day and we managed to do it at the World Championships.”

    “These individuals and teams are Alberta’s best. We’re proud of what they’ve achieved and honoured to recognize them for their outstanding contribution to sport in our province,” says Andrew Ference, Chair of Alberta Sport Connection. “They have reached higher, dug deeper, led by example, and made our sport system better.”

    The bronze medal, along with an individual silver won by Smith in 2015, has given the team an element of belief and confidence they didn’t have before. In a sport that is typically dominated by a handful of European countries, breaking through to the podium has help shift the attitude on the team.

    “As a team we’ve reached a turning point,” says Gow. “Up until a few years ago, in the back of our minds there was a mental block but once the precedent is set it helps the whole team believe.”

    Belief in what’s possible is what fuels the team forward as the next winter Olympics looms large in 2018. The team had its ups and downs during the season following the bronze medal performance, but is looking forward to building on the momentum it provided.

    Gow says it’s a fond memory from that year, but with another a whole season completed since then they are looking to improve on it. “This coming season we are focused on our training, getting fitter and faster. The biggest factor is team positivity and confidence in both the relay and individual races,” he says.

    Smith is recovered from a lingering mono-like virus that prevented him from competing most of the 2016-17 season. He has started training early this season in preparation for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang is 2018. The setback was difficult but Smith says it’s giving him extra motivation to overcome the obstacle.

    For now, at least, there’s a chance to revel in the memory of the historic medal once more, before focus returns to the future. Biathlon is a lesser-known sport in Canada and Gow says this award is means a lot to the team. “It’s always really nice to win an award and be recognized,” he says.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto
    19/04/17
  • 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

  • For some athletes, moving beyond sport can be completing their education and finding a job. For others, the transition may evolve into a full-blown apocalyptic, existential crisis. Leaving competitive sport behind is a tough pill to swallow.

    During the weeks and months following an Olympic Games, many athletes fall into a post-Olympic malaise characterized by a letdown after the intense build up to what is often the biggest event of their careers. Regardless of whether one returns home as a newly-minted Olympic medallist or a disappointed competitor, unease about the future emerges.

    This post-Olympic period can be fraught with changes at an organizational level, in coaching staff and in program structure. This, combined with an athlete’s inner search for clarity and the desire to continue competing, can make for a tumultuous period.

    In anticipation of this phase, the 2016 Game Plan Summit was held this past last weekend to explore each of the five Game Plan elements: career, education, health, network, and skill development. Game Plan is a collaboration between the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network (COPSIN), Deloitte and Sport Canada. This second event of its kind, brought together the Game Plan partners and national team athletes at the recently completed Deloitte University, a learning campus at the Deloitte building in downtown Toronto.

    The Summit presented opportunities for athletes to network with alumni and industry leaders, reconnect with athletes, attend skill development workshops, and leave with concrete tools and experiences. The theme of the event was ‘Breakthrough’ and the goal was to provide athletes with access to knowledge and resources to perform at their best in and out of sport.

    Jessica Zelinka, a two-time Olympian in heptathlon and CSI Calgary athlete, fell just short of her goal of competing in Rio. With lingering feelings of disappointment and love of sport, she’s not quite ready to walk away yet. While she works through what comes next in her life, she continues to train and has taken on two jobs.

    In addition to the sessions and workshops at the summit focusing on the practical aspects of transition, what Zelinka appreciated deeply about the experience was the ability to connect with other athletes. “It was a really good opportunity to see everyone and hear their stories, to know that I’m not alone and that there is a lot of support out there.”

    This sentiment was echoed by 2016 Olympic Champion in wrestling and CSI Calgary athlete, Erica Wiebe. While Wiebe’s schedule is currently overflowing with appearances and public speaking, leaving little time to address future plans, she welcomed the chance to connect with her fellow athletes.

    “I’m so inspired by my peers,” she says. “We are all doing the same thing but we all have a unique story. It’s amazing to learn about how everyone handles the challenges in their lives.”

    Cara Button, Director of Stakeholder Relations at the CSI Calgary, was a presenter at the summit. She observed was that the event provided a new connection for many athletes. “It exposed the athletes to the Game Plan program and the wealth of resources available to them as they develop their plans for the future,” she says.

    The challenge of transition is not unique to athletes. One of the recurring messages at the summit was the idea that transition happens to everyone throughout their lives and the necessity of embracing it is infinite and universal. For some athletes, difficulty arises in being frank and honest about how they are truly feeling.

    “The summit helped open up the conversation I was afraid to have with myself, to learn about the options and resources that are available to me,” says Zelinka. “I know there are some other things I could love but I don’t know what those are yet.”

    The Game Plan program is having impact developing mentally stronger athletes who apply what they have learned as leaders in the sport to the betterment of themselves and their communities.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    09/11/16

  • 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

  • The 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

  • The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) is excited to be part of a new venture with the National Lacrosse League’s (NLL) Calgary Roughnecks. The Roughnecks were at WinSport on November 27 to undergo testing at the CSI Calgary in preparation for the upcoming season, which gets underway on January 2.

    The Roughnecks are breaking ground as the first team in the NLL to undergo comprehensive testing that is common for Olympic athletes. CSI Calgary Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Osmond works with the Roughnecks organization and encouraged the team to take advantage of the high performance facility and staff’s extensive knowledge. He says, “The team chose to perform preseason testing at the CSI Calgary this year to take their performance to the next level. They want to invest in their players by giving them access to world leading sport science. They believe that this venture will pave the way for elevated performance this season and for years to come.”

    Calgary Roughnecks General Manager and Director of Business Operations Mike Board was on site for the full day of testing. He agrees with Osmond, adding, “We wanted to centralize what we do for our fitness testing and this facility provided the opportunity to have everyone together on the same day. It is good for us as an organization and it is also a team building concept.”

    Although it has never been conducted before by any NLL teams, the Roughnecks organization sees the value in preseason testing because, Board notes, “It allows us to get ready for the season knowing the players’ fitness and training zones. We are looking to find out how fit our guys are and where we need to take them. This data allows us to do that, and it is something that we have not been able to do before.”

    Moving forward, CSI Calgary Exercise Physiologist Kelly Quipp will work to provide interpretation of the players’ test results. She will then offer training recommendations to elevate the conditioning level of the team for the upcoming season. This feedback will be enhanced by Osmond, who will create a training plan that can be adapted for each player.

    Of the team’s first time utilizing the CSI Calgary services, Board emphasizes, “The experience has been fabulous. It’s efficient – the flow and timing of everything is very impressive. The players’ feedback was positive and the medical team was very happy.”

    Best of luck in the season to the Calgary Roughnecks! The CSI Calgary looks forward to hosting you again next preseason.

     

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

  •  

  • Canadian Biathletes and fans are about to enjoy a long-awaited international competition. From February 1-7, the Canmore Nordic Centre will host the 2016 BMW Biathlon World Cup, the first in Canmore since 1994.

    Canada will be represented by a strong contingent. The female competitors will be Rosanna Crawford, Julia Ransom, Sarah Beaudry, Zina Kocher and Megan Tandy, while the males will be Nathan Smith, Brendan Green, Macx Davies, Christian Gow and Scott Gow. All athletes are Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) supported, training at the CSI Calgary hub in the Bill Warren Training Center (BWTC). Owned and operated by WinSport, the BWTC is housed at the legendary Canmore Nordic Centre.

    Canada’s home field advantage for the World Cup comes at a critical time. This is allowing the team to prepare at home for to the upcoming World Championships March 3-13 in Norway. It will provide the CSI Calgary’s Integrated Support Team (IST) the opportunity to be close to the athletes, giving them access to massage and physiotherapy, as well as direct contact with their strength coach, mental performance consultant and physiologist. Sport Physiologist Jessica Kryski emphasizes, “It is rare for the IST to have such great access to the athletes prior to a major championship. This will allow direct contact, which is not always the case due to costs associated with travel.”

    Reigning World Championship Silver Medallist Nathan Smith is looking forward to performing on his home track, saying, “I grew into the athlete I am today on those trails. I will have a definite advantage being able to sleep in my own bed, eat my own food, and being very familiar with the range and course. On a personal level, the World Cup here is almost more important than World Championships.” Smith is proud to have the opportunity to show his home venue to the world, declaring, “I have yet to see somewhere that compares to Canmore.”

    The anticipation goes beyond the athletes to the Biathlon Canada staff. High Performance Director Eric de Nys notes, “The beauty of racing at home is having the opportunity to showcase your passion to friends, family and supporters. For years the athletes have trained hard to then leave Canada and demonstrate their skills internationally. To be able to do this at home is a real honour and exudes a sense of pride.”

    National Team Coach Roddy Ward is excited about the athletes’ chances to be on the podium in front of their biggest supporters, saying, “Rosanna Crawford and Nathan Smith teamed up for a silver medal in the last single mixed relay and now they will get a chance to team up again to compete for a medal. Youngsters on the team have also made huge strides this year with Macx Davies securing his first top 10 and Julia Ransom posting her first top 20.”

    Don’t miss your opportunity to cheer on Canadian athletes as they fight for medals in beautiful Canmore! For tickets and information please visit http://canmorebiathlon.ca

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

  • 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 National Women’s Hockey Team is ready to show the world what they are made of as they host the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Championship March 28-April 4 in Kamloops.

    After bringing home the gold from the 2014 Olympic Games, forward Brianne Jenner says, “Having World Championships on home soil is very exciting for us and something we really look forward to. We have great fans when we play at home and it really makes for a fantastic atmosphere. The Four Nations Cup was held in Kamloops in 2014 and the crowd really got behind us. I have no doubt they will do the same in April.”

    The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) will be cheering loudly for Team Canada, as it is the training home of nine team members: Bailey Bram, Sarah Davis, Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston, Brigette Lacquette, Meaghan Mikkelson Reid, Jillian Saulnier, Blayre Turnbull, and Hayley Wickenheiser. The Calgary-based players rely on CSI Calgary’s Integrated Support Team in a variety of areas including nutrition, physiology, sport science, strength and conditioning, massage, and mental performance.

    Two-time Olympic Gold Medallist Rebecca Johnston says, “The partnership between Hockey Canada and CSI Calgary has been amazing! I use a wide variety of the services. As a hockey player, I need treatment on a weekly basis to stay on top of my body and eliminate injuries. The CSI Calgary provides us with everything that we need and more! We are so fortunate to have the resources that we do.”

    Meaghan Mikkelson Reid, also a double Olympic Gold Medallist, has recently returned to the team after having her first child. She believes this feat is in part thanks to Strength and Conditioning Coach Jeff Osadec, emphasizing, “I could not be more grateful for the amazing work that Jeff has done for me. After working with him for four years, he trained me through my pregnancy and then after I had my son. He helped me get back to full strength in approximately three months. There is no way I would have been named to the World Championship team without his knowledge, expertise, and passion when it comes to training athletes.”

    The CSI Calgary’s Amy Bauerle, a therapist with Canada’s National Women’s Team, notes, “It is great to have the opportunity to work with the athletes throughout the season. These women are dedicated athletes and I am excited to see their hard work pay off in Kamloops when they get the chance to compete on the world stage on home ice. It’s an honour to be a part of this journey with them.”

    To follow the Canadian Women on their quest for World Championship gold, visit http://www.worldwomen2016.com/en/.

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

  • Chris Osmond, a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary, has the difficult task of providing individualized services to athletes from a variety of sports. While the majority of the CSIC's strength and conditioning coaches work with groups of athletes who belong to a single sport, Osmond has taken on the role of coaching athletes who are not part of a training group.

    Osmond typically works with five to eight athletes at time, all from varying sports. His athletes' levels range from junior national teams to the professional or Olympic level. Some of the athletes that he is currently coaching are modern pentathlete Joshua Riker-Fox, baseball player Mike Soroka, curler John Morris, and ice cross athlete Kyle Croxall.

    Osmond enjoys the challenge of working with a diverse range of individuals. He says that in order to create the best plan for each athlete, "I educate myself about each sport. The programs I create are individualized based on assessments of movement, power and capacity to do work, together with my analysis of the sport and athlete."

    After the initial assessments and testing are performed through the CSIC's High Performance Laboratory, Osmond creates a yearly training program (YTP). Once the YTP has been established, more detailed programming takes place with other coaching staff who will be involved in training a specific athlete. The training process includes establishing small cycles within the YTP that enable the coaching staff to focus on priorities that have been identified through the assessment process.

    Joshua Riker-Fox's athlete-coach relationship with Osmond is still in the early stages. However, he already has a strong belief in Osmond's coaching style. When asked about Osmond, Riker-Fox says, "We started with a thorough review of where I am at currently and what my goals are moving forward. I really appreciate that Chris has worked with a variety of sports and athletes. He has an understanding of the asymmetric movement in the event of modern pentathlon. Chris is obviously experienced and shares the rationale behind what we do. I really enjoy Chris' expertise and the fact that I am learning so much from him. I feel stronger and it is obviously rewarding for me to see its impact. Chris is a great coach!"

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary

    Written by Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler

    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto

  • Behind every athletic performance is a dedicated, well-trained coach. A coach who has dedicated years of their life to discovering what makes their athletes tick while working to stay current in areas such as sport science, technique and nutrition, to name just a few.

    Recognizing that coaches have busy and demanding schedules, the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary), on behalf of the Coaching Association of Canada, is excited to announce a new delivery format of the internationally recognized Advanced Coaching Diploma (ACD). Instructed by an array of veteran Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute (COPSI) Network experts, Program Director Jason Sjostrom says the new ACD will thrive as a “coach driven, expert led, peer enriched, and mentor supported structured learning community – this is 21st century adult learning at its best.”

    Considered the pinnacle of the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP), the ACD features a unique new facilitated learning format that provides adaptability for coach-learners. Within the new framework there are four different ways that coaches can take part in the program: in person, participating through live webinars, via distance learning by watching a recording of the class, or as a “parachute” coach, coming in to the classroom for certain sessions and completing other aspects remotely. Sjostrom says, “The CSI Calgary is very excited about this blended learning opportunity that will allow coaches from Alberta and across Canada to be part of our program.”

    The ACD curriculum’s four core themes (Coaching Leadership, Coaching Effectiveness, Performance Planning, and Training and Competition Readiness) are instructed by experienced professionals within the COPSI Network such as Dr. Cari Din, Olympic Silver Medallist and PhD in the field of Leadership Behaviour. The curriculum is science-based and results focused. ACD coaches’ learning can be applied and evaluated in a way that compliments the sport specific training available through the National Sport Organizations in Competition Development Advanced Gradation coaching contexts. The program also boasts access to mentorship from high-level coaches and support staff with backgrounds in a wide variety of sports. In combination, the curriculum and support afforded to the new ACD coach-learners will facilitate learning opportunities that are not experienced in a traditional classroom setting.

    Similar programs are available across the COPSI Network in both languages. The ACD Program lead by CSI Ontario will focus on summer sports, offering most of their learning opportunities in the winter months. L’Institut national du sport du Québec will continue to offer the program for French speaking coaches with intake in June.

    Applications are currently being accepted for the session hosted by CSI Calgary. The two-year program will begin in April and run until the end of November in 2016 and 2017. Current diploma candidates are primarily from winter sports including Alpine, Biathlon, and Curling. There are also coaches from summer sports such as Basketball and Wrestling. Coaches have applied from Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick.

    Don’t miss your chance to continue pursuing excellence in sport! For more information, or to register, please visit www.csicalgary.ca/advanced-coaching-diploma  or contact Program Director Jason Sjostrom at sjostrom@csicalgary.ca. Applications will be accepted until February 15.

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

  • In a country as vast as Canada, it can be challenging to offer accessibility to niche education programs centred in one location. In the case of the Advanced Coaching Diploma (ACD) offered by the CSI Calgary, the program has historically been limited to those living in Calgary or those willing to relocate.

    Recently, the adoption of a new online platform called D2L (Desire2Learn) has helped to reduce the ACD’s dependency on geography and opened access to coaches across Canada. “We recognized that the program wasn’t meeting the needs of the students,” says Jason Sjostrom, Director of the Coaching Program at CSI Calgary. “D2L offers access to the ACD and makes coach education accessible. It’s not realistic for everyone to move to Calgary,” he adds.

    D2L is an education space that houses all the features the ACD is looking for and offers a degree of collaboration, personalization and accessibility that was missing from the program. Sjostrom says that because coaches are not always in a major centre and their schedules don’t align with traditional learning environments, D2L is needed to make the ACD more accessible and flexible for students. “The future of adult learning is asynchronous learning,” he adds. “Coaches are in the field upwards of 30 hours a week and they need access to the program on their time.”

    For Dr. Cari Din, ACD Cohort Mentor and Leadership & Coaching Effectiveness Expert, D2L has modernized the learning environment. “Now we can do exercises in real time with real situations,” she says. “In the past we would create simulations for the coaches to work through, which doesn’t have the same effect.” The program is not meant to replace other forms of education however, but rather to enhance. “We’re striking a fine balance,” says Din.

    In addition to increased access, one key benefit of the D2L platform is collaboration. Users can share everything in one place, whether it be assignments, class content, discussion forums and even simple voice recordings. Lorelei St. Rose is a short track speed skating coach in Prince George, B.C. For her, D2L helps coaches avoid getting stuck in their own sport. “We collaborate and share, which opens other avenues for learning from each other,” she says.

    Steven Hitchings, a swim coach at the Saskatoon Goldfins Swim Club, likes the ability to personalize everything in D2L to suit his needs. “I can personalize the platform and go back and put things together in a way that makes sense to me,” he explains. “I can organize everything the way I want and go back to it later for review.”

    The program has greatly simplified the delivery of the program and provided a lot of opportunities to share work in a structured place and to reflect on that work. “It’s very inclusive and it promotes that reflection from a non-traditional angle,” says Din.

    St. Rose says that while it’s a bit more work to be a part of the group as compared to being there in person, using the technology to be a part of the virtual classroom comes close.

    The platform, which was implemented through a partnership between the CSI Calgary, CSI Ontario and the Coaching Association of Canada, ultimately broadens the coaching education environment and enhances the ability of dedicated and motivated coaches to improve their knowledge and skills.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    12/04/17

  • For Luc Tremblay, a Montreal-based strength and conditioning coach who recently attended the CSI Calgary Strength and Power Performance Course, the drive to excel at his work is fuelled by seeing his athletes progress. “I’ve always liked to see how effort produces results. What keeps my passion going is seeing that magic with younger athletes and showing the way of being.”

    This is exactly the impact that Matt Jordan, Director of Strength and Conditioning at CSI Calgary and the mastermind behind the course, is hoping to achieve. Driven by a desire to perpetually seek excellence in his work with the CSI Calgary Strength and Conditioning group, the vision for the course is to offer the best opportunities for development to other coaches and trainers at every level. Says Jordan, “If you’re leading the community, then people want to come and learn from you. We’re really committed to getting better and making an impact on the strength and conditioning community.”

    The course focuses on both science and coaching, with attendees coming from all backgrounds and this year, from other countries as well. According to Tremblay, the benefits of the course include the content of the lectures and the networking opportunities. But he says the biggest value came from being able to witness and observe CSI Calgary athletes in their element.

    “I was very impressed by having athletes there in real time, on the floor. Seeing how they train, how they rest between sets. I can bring that back with me and share it with my athletes. I can teach them that they need to train like a pro,” says Tremblay.

    The practise of transferring and sharing knowledge within the system serves to develop coaches at every stage, from grassroots to high performance. This ultimately leads to spawning the next generation of athletes who will consequently progress to the next levels already equipped with the skills, habits and attitudes necessary to excel in the elite margins of sport.

    According to Tremblay, “Having all of us there in the course is a benefit to the CSI Calgary as well, to welcome future athletes that were trained well and the right way. By enabling us with content, knowledge and expertise to work with our own top level athletes, when they reach that next level CSI Calgary can start with an athlete that has the right foundation.”

    In addition to the synergistic benefits achieved for both coaches and future CSI Calgary athletes, the course helps the CSI Calgary Strength and Conditioning group improve too. Jordan says, “The participants in the course help support development in our team, which in turn helps us offer higher quality programming and courses like this one.” With conviction, he adds, “I strongly believe that we deliver to the highest level athletes, we are extremely knowledgeable and good teachers, and we can deliver this to the community.”

    This limitless cycle of sharing, developing, learning and improving ultimately leads to fulfilling a mutual goal of achieving excellence in sport, at every level, for every player in the game.

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

  • The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSIC) athletes are making their mark on the PanAm Games in Toronto. As of July 16, half of the way through the competition, Team Canada is leading the medal standings with a total of 97 medals.

    As expected, CSIC athletes have been great contributors to the results. Gold medal performances have come from Ashley Steacy in rugby, Monique Sullivan and Kate O’Brien in track cycling’s team sprint, Genevieve Morrison in 48kg wrestling, and a double gold medal performance by Lynda Kiejko in shooting. Silver medals have been won by gymnast Kevin Lytwyn on the horizontal bar and Andrew Schnell in doubles squash. The medal haul so far is rounded out with bronze medals earned by the men’s water polo team and roller speed skating’s Jordan Belchos .

    Belchos is a rare two-sport athlete, who competes during the winter months in international events in long track speed skating. Belchos, a native of Toronto, was ecstatic with his performance in the 10,000m points race, saying, “It was such an honour to compete in my hometown. Travelling to and from the venues I passed by the rink where I had my first speed skating race and by the hospital where I was born. It really made things feel like they were coming full circle for me. I knew my Pan Am race would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and I knew I was a long shot to win a medal but I never wavered in my belief that I could do something special in the race.”

    Belchos has been living in Calgary for a decade and attributes much of his athletic success to his training environment, noting, “I'm privileged to be supported by the CSIC and train in the professional setting and environment that they provide. So many of the steps I've taken in my career have been under the guidance of many CSIC staff including Derek Robinson, Scott Maw, and Kelly Anne Erdman.”

    With many events still to be contested, be sure to keep an eye on the rest of the CSIC athletes and all of Team Canada! 

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary

    Written by Brittany Schussler: @bschussler

    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto

  • The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary was thrilled with the news that Calgary-born athlete Mike Soroka had been drafted to Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves. Soroka, a right-handed pitcher, was picked in the first round, 28th overall.

    The draft comes at a busy time in 17-year-old Soroka's life, with his graduation from Bishop Caroll High School occurring on June 19. When asked about the current changes in his life, Sororka is still focused on baseball, saying that his goal has always been to be a professional pitcher. He emphasized that pitching has always "been what I've loved to do...throw on the mound and be in control. That's just something that I enjoy."

    Soroka has been an athlete training at the CSIC since November 2014, when he began working in the high performance weight room with Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Osmond and using the on-site cold tubs to enhance his recovery. Osmond had previously worked with a baseball team that Soroka had played on, and based on that experience Soroka knew that Osmond's expertise would help him reach the next level of his career. Their work together has paid off, with Soroka noting that all of his training was "very well monitored. I've had other trainers that tried to just bulk me up, but Chris was very focused on being functional. All his exercises were adaptived to baseball. I also liked that I sometimes wanted to push the weight up but Chris was focused on consistency and solid improvement."

    After working one-on-one with Soroka, Chris Osmond is not surprised at the Braves' decision to draft him. Osmond describes Soroka as ambitious and focused, saying, "It was a pleasure working with Mike. His determination to be a better athlete physically and mentally was evident during every training session. I'm extremely happy to see all of his hard work paying off."

    As Soroka gets ready to fly off to Atlanta for medical assessments and what he hopes will be his official team signing, he is noticeably excited, saying, "It's been a whirlwind with many ups and downs, but I now have to focus on what's to come." From everyone at the CSIC, "Good luck Mike!"

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary

    Written by Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler

    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
  • On May 11, 2015, Registered Psychologist Natasha Kutlesa gave a presentation entitled "How to Talk About Weight to Female Athletes." The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary's boardroom was filled to its twenty-four person capacity with the CSIC's coaches and support staff, underscoring the importance of the issue.

    Kutlesa has been a part of the CSIC's mental performance team for ten years. After having the experience of working with many athletes who have issues with body image, disordered eating has become one of the areas that she specializes in. She conceived of the concept for this workshop after noting that there is a strong recurrence of eating disorders and body image issues among athletes. This is emphasized by research that has shown elite athletes as being more susceptible to eating disorders than the general population.

    Noticing that coaches struggle to find the best ways of communicating with athletes who are battling disordered eating, Kutlesa recognized this as a good opportunity to facilitate a workshop in which coaches and therapists from different sports could share with each other and learn from others' experiences. This continuing education provided by the CSIC is one of the ways that Canadian coaches and support staff are given current relevant information.

    Kutlesa put together an informative presentation that outlined the dos and don'ts of addressing the sensitive topic. She discussed signs and symptoms of disordered eating, providing methods for doing a general assessment to analyze how athletes are eating and recovering from training. She then gave suggestions for ways that staff can approach athletes' different issues using case-study examples. She reinforced the notion that if staff have concerns with one of their athletes, the first thing to do is direct them to a physician. The physician will then determine the appropriate course of action. She ensured that each person would retain the information by providing a handout titled "Coach & Athletic Trainer Toolkit."

    Because of the topic's importance, Kutlesa's workshop will likely be offered again in the future. Additionally, there is discussion of forming sport-specific workshops to address the various ways that different sports uniquely influence an athlete's body image.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
  • Canadian Sport Institute Calgary athlete John Morris won bronze at the World Curling Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia on April 5th when Team Canada defeated Finland. Morris was an integral part of the home team during the tournament, which took place from March 28th - April 5th, 2015. Morris, who was a member of the gold medal winning team at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, currently throws third on a team with Nolan Thiessen, Carter Rycroft, and Pat Simmons.

    The CSIC facilities at Markin MacPhail Centre recently became Morris' home training centre. The facilities were on display from January 8th-11th, when WinSport hosted the World Financial Group Continental Cup for Curling. The tournament had both male and female curlers from all over the world. During the competition, many of the top curlers used the CSIC facility.

    John, is studying nutrition and working as a firefighter in the Rocky View Municipality, is an athlete who benefits from having all of their athletic needs met in a centralized location. His training regime often consists of workouts in the gym followed by treatment from Kevin Wagner, the CSIC's Director of Physiotherapy. He concludes his routine in the athletes' kitchen where he can prepare his post work out shake while sharing his experiences and getting inspired by Canada's high performance athletes from a wide variety of sports.

    The Simmons team started their run earlier this year with a unique story. They began the qualifying tournament, the Brier, with Morris being positioned as the team's Skip. After a tough start, Morris made the decision to move into a more familiar position as the team's Third and have teammate Pat Simmons take over as Skip. The decision proved to be ideal for the team, who proceeded to win the Brier and go on to win the World Championship bronze.

    With their win at the Brier, the Simmons rink has automatically qualified for the 2016 Brier. Defending their title will surely be a part of the team's long-term plan to train and compete together with the goal of representing Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Korea. Morris is planning to make use of the CSIC's combination of facilities and services throughout the quadrennial and hopes to bring his team members to Calgary for training camps in order for them to make use of the facility's benefits as well.

    The CSIC enjoys having a world-class athlete from yet another sport reaping the benefits that it has to offer while inspiring the athletes around him. Congratulations to John and the rest of Team Canada.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary

    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto

  • 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

  • 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

  • Dustin Cook wasn’t sure he would remember how to ski. But after nearly a year off snow – his longest break since he took up the sport at age two – Cook patiently and doggedly worked to recover from a catastrophic knee injury. He was pleased, and relieved, to discover that he certainly does remember how to ski.

    “It feels amazing to be back on snow,” he says. “I wasn’t sure what to expect but it couldn’t have gone any better. I was a bit surprised. I was kind of assuming the worst, but everything went awesome.”

    Coming off a recent two-week training camp in Chile, Cook is looking forward to a return to racing this fall. And so he should be – eight years of persistent and consistent racing on the World Cup circuit led to a breakout season in 2014-2015 that saw Cook win a World Championship silver medal in the super-G and gold and bronze medals in subsequent World Cups.

    He was well poised to maintain this momentum last season when calamity struck. During a training run in Austria, Cook crashed and sustained torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments (ACL & MCL) in his right knee. His season was over before it started, he flew home to have reconstructive surgery and start a new journey – the long, painful and challenging road back to racing.

    Patience and hard work helped him recover, but he didn’t do it alone. His support team at Alpine Canada Alpin and the CSI Calgary built a plan for every stage of Cook’s recovery. Jamie McCartney is the Strength and Power Coach at the CSI Calgary for the men’s Alpine ski team. He was instrumental in both planning and facilitating Cook’s rehabilitation.

    “Once an athlete gets injured he becomes his own team, now we have a specific focus on that individual and the work flow becomes about getting that athlete into the proper care,” says McCartney. He adds, “We build a plan around the medical timelines we are given and adjust the protocol from that point on. It’s a concerted effort by the entire Integrated Service Team.”

    In the early stages, the process is about recovery from surgery, then rehabilitation starts. This eventually crosses into pre-habilitation, where strength and conditioning can begin. The timeframe varies for each athlete depending on how recovery progresses.

    Part of Cook’s recovery incorporated the use of functional testing in the CSI Calgary’s strength lab to identify deficits in strength and muscle stability. According to McCartney, jump testing using force plates is a performance marker that shows bilateral asymmetry between the injured knee and good knee. “With catastrophic injury we can see asymmetry of up to 40-50%. We are always going back to reassess whether the athlete is tracking back towards baseline results [on the injured knee].”

    McCartney also works with the physiotherapist to design an appropriate training program to address the injured knee. The task can be daunting given the deficits they see. “Usually with an ACL injury the quadriceps muscles atrophy, there is scar tissue and the gluts are inactive. The body needs to be retrained to move and to rehabilitate lost movement patterns.”

    Although it can be overwhelming for an athlete to endure a year-long rehabilitation program, there is potential for a silver lining. “With all the time I had to recover we made a plan to fill a gap in my training – I was able to work on improving my core strength, which I felt could be better,” says Cook. He feels stronger now than he’s ever been.

    McCartney attests that he’s never seen someone be as professionally committed and focused on doing the rehab as Dustin Cook. “It was his number one priority. He trusted his team around him and did what he needed to do.” Cook is modest about his progress, “There was no magic formula to getting back,” he says. “It was just having a good team around me and doing the work.”

    As it is with elite athletes, everything Cook has learned during his long journey to the top is not easily forgotten, the least of which is skiing. How to perform, how to win – that is what Dustin remembers most and it helped get him through a long year of rehabilitation. “There has never been a doubt in my mind that I could get back. I worked so hard to get there and I didn’t forget that.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    05/10/16

  • With Canadian Nordic and Para Nordic athletes gaining momentum on the world stage, athlete and coach needs for CSI Calgary’s Integrated Support Team (IST) services are growing. This is where Jessica Kryski, CSI Calgary Sport Physiologist provides the necessary support.

    Originally based out of CSI Calgary’s main offices, Kryski’s expertise was increasingly being utilized by Canmore Nordic athletes and coaches, and travel between Calgary and Canmore was intensifying. In June 2016, Kryski moved to Canmore to be a better on-site liason with the Nordic National teams.

    Kryski assists with weekly and yearly Nordic planning, physiological testing, monitoring and she also helps at some training sessions. Being based in Canmore allows her to be more available to the High Performance Directors, coaches, skiers and other IST members. “It is very useful to be able to attend training sessions more regularly in order to properly gauge their load and impact,” explains Kryski. “Being permanently on site allows opportunity for more spontaneous conversations, and building stronger relationships and trust with the teams.”

    Emily Nishikawa is a Canmore-based cross country ski athlete, primarily competing in distance events. Kryski has been working with her for the past few years, and they have developed a strong working relationship. “ I feel like I can always run questions by her and really value her expert opinion. Together with my coach, we can tailor my training plan according to test results as well as daily monitoring. Having Jessica based in Canmore just makes everything much easier and more smooth.”

    Cross Country Ski Canada notices a difference now that they have a CSI Calgary IST member on site. “It’s made a huge difference having Jessica’s expertise in Canmore full time, working as a collective with all the Nordic disciplines amassing a large bank of knowledge,” says Tom Holland, High Performance Director. “Kryski’s work also extends across the country with National and Development team athletes and coaches.“

    The change is also beneficial to other IST members within the CSI Calgary. Anna Aylwin, Head Calgary Strength and Conditioning Coach for Nordic sports says that Kryski’s move to Canmore has elevated the IST approach to new levels. “The way we work as an IST with Nordic sports is very hands on. Having Jessica there gives us more of an established base and knowing she’s there makes working with these athletes in a satellite location much more efficient. I feel that we’ve made a huge step forward in establishing a centre of excellence for Nordic sports.”

    Cross Country Ski Canada, Biathlon Canada and Para Nordic Skiing have their home base at the Canmore Nordic Centre. With access to more than 100 km of world class trails, 31 firing lanes for biathlon, a paved rollerski loop and biathlon competition trails, more than 25 CSI-supported National Team athletes, and additional development groups train at the Centre.

    Ski Nationals 2017 will be held at the Canmore Nordic Centre from March 18 – 25, 2017. It’s a great opportunity to see Canada’s best compete leading up to the Peyongchang Olympics in February 2018.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Lisa Thomson
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    22/02/17

  • 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

  • Shane 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

  • 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

  • (left to right: Chandra Crawford, Neil Smith, Blythe Hartley, Will Dutton)

    There are many common threads woven among the athlete experience that bind athletes together in an unspoken but profound way: voluntary physical suffering, heart palpitations on the starting line, elation in victory. But perhaps the most shared and unifying thread is the inevitable end game: the end, whether by choice or by fate, of a lifetime dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in sport.

    The way of transition is a challenge unlike any other faced in sport; a journey that every athlete must make. Blythe Hartley, 2004 Olympic bronze medalist, describes her transition from diving to the ‘real world’ as the most difficult challenge of her entire career. “I knew I was going to retire after 2008, but I didn’t prepare. I knew it was looming even though I finished on a high and loved my sport. It was a difficult time, I wasn’t clear.”

    For Will Dutton, 26, a long track speed skater and CSI Calgary athlete, the end came by choice after a disappointing 2014-2015 season, where love of sport waned and injury swallowed his progress. He pursued carpentry but it wasn’t long before the desire to compete returned. “I missed sport. My love for speed skating came back, but I was also asking myself “Where do I want to go with my life?”

    For Hartley, Dutton and countless other CSI Calgary athletes struggling to answer that question there is Cara Button, Game Plan Advisor. Game Plan is Canada’s national athlete total wellness program supporting and empowering high performance athletes to pursue excellence during and beyond their sporting career.

    Button nurtures relationships with the athletes throughout their careers, which helps her craft an individual approach to supporting each one through what can be a tough ride from sport to life. “I’m a mom to 300 young adults!” she laughs.

    The skills gained from being an athlete endure for a lifetime but transitioning athletes can’t always see or appreciate how to apply them to a new career. It is Button’s job to help athletes realise their potential after sport. “We offer the resources but the onus is on the athlete. Athletes forget that they have all the skills. Sometimes they just need a little push and some one-on-one time to help them focus.” she says.

    Neil Smith, the COO of Crescent Point Energy in Calgary, has supported CSI Calgary athletes for years. He is working with Button to help create employment opportunities for current and transitioning athletes. “One of the most important things to me is that athletes are willing to risk failure” he says, “I guarantee that the skills developed as an athlete are specifically those needed in a new career.”

    At a recent networking event jointly hosted by CSI Calgary and Crescent Point Energy, current and retired athletes had the opportunity to meet industry professionals and learn some lessons from a panel discussion with Dutton, Hartley and Smith.

    For Hartley, now a successful HR Advisor at ARC Resources, the support from Button and the CSI Calgary was invaluable. “I was very lucky to have the support from the CSI Calgary in that time, it was so helpful. It’s possible to get through it.”

    With a plan for the future, Dutton is now in school and training for the next Olympics. In his first season back he won five World Cup medals, something he credits to his newfound sense of purpose. “I started to believe in myself. Having something that I believe in made my performance so much better, I had something else to focus on.”

    If you are interested in hiring an athlete please contact Cara Button at cbutton@csicalgary.ca

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

     

  • Dr. Cari (Read) Din is an Olympic Silver Medallist in synchronized swimming. She also has a PhD in Leadership Behaviour and can link these two achievements to her involvement with the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSIC). Cari believes that the CSIC impacted her synchro career, and now with her knowledge in Leadership Behaviour wants to share her experience to positively influence others.

    Din's lifelong relationship with the CSIC began while using the high performance coaching and sports science services to their maximum benefit en route to her 1996 Olympic medal winning performance. She believes that she "took advantage of every service" and was inspired to stay involved in sport beyond her athletic career giving credit to her CSIC employed strength and conditioning coach. He was "the reason I made the [medal winning] team." Noting that she was "shaped by my coaches as much as my parents," this experience catalyzed her curiosity for medal-winning leadership that drove her PhD research.

    Cari received the Petro Canada Olympic Torch Scholarship to complete her Master's degree in Motor Learning. Her PhD research focused on the coach and athlete leadership that preceded Canadian Olympic gold medal winning performances in 2010. She has been able to translate her evidence based research into innovative coach development and mentorship.

    Wanting to use her experience and education to promote and create highly impactful relationships between coaches and athletes, Din has worked with CSIC staff and integrated support team members to enhance their behaviours and, ultimately, improve athletes' results. She has also spent time facilitating workshops that the CSIC has hosted over the past months, focusing on women's leadership and development with both athletes and staff alike

    Like many high performance athletes, Dr. Din has the drive and determination to succeed both in and out of sport. Her evolution through the multi-faceted CSIC channels has allowed her to make significant impacts in high performance sport at every level. From developing athlete to Olympic Medallist, from undergraduate degree to doctorate, and from pupil to advisor, Cari has helped to improve the sport community. Staying involved with the CSIC has been a main goal, in order to give back to the organization that has helped her dreams come true, both athletically and professionally.

    Stay in the loop!

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary

    Written by Brittany Schussler: @bschussler

    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto

  • Food is good. Good food is better. For tired athletes looking to refuel after a tough workout, access to an affordable, healthy meal is vital. Thankfully for them, Fuel for Gold, a restaurant/kiosk located at the University of Calgary, offers just that.

    The CSI Calgary undertook the opening of the kiosk in 2011 as a way to provide fresh, healthy, organic food to Canada’s top amateur athletes and the Calgary public. Additionally, the business serves to support CSI Calgary programs – all proceeds from Fuel for Gold go directly to support Canada’s athletes training in Calgary. The primary clientele are subsidized CSI Calgary athletes and Calgary Dinos, as well as University faculty and staff who are socially conscious and looking for a healthy option.

    According to Kelly Anne Erdman, a CSI Calgary Performance Dietician, Fuel for Gold has been a welcome addition to the campus food scene. “What we’re finding is that faculty and students are jumping on board and are happy to have access to high quality food options. We also cater to unique nutritional requests offering vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options,” she says.

    Erdman works with Head Chef Fauzy Azouz to develop new recipes and menu items, and to maximize the potential of the tiny kitchen. With limited space and a healthy demand, it can be challenging to produce enough meals every day. “What Fauzy produces in that small kitchen everyday is amazing!” laughs Erdman.

    In addition to the kiosk, Fuel for Gold also offers a catering service. Clients often include local sports teams and corporate clients looking for healthy catering options. Says Erdman, “We haven’t done a lot of marketing, we mostly go by word of mouth. The city hears about us, we get calls from corporate clients throughout Calgary and we do our best to fill every order. There are other options available but they come to us.”

    Lesley Reddon, Manager of Female National Teams at Hockey Canada relies on Fuel for Gold catering services for team training camps. “Fuel for Gold provides good quality meals with a sound nutritional base, which is something that is important to incorporate into our camps from the perspective of both athletes and staff,” says Reddon.

    It can be a challenge to churn out over 500 meals a day and fill catering orders but Azouz takes it all in stride. Despite the occasional stressful day, Azouz loves his job and clearly takes his customers’ needs and wants to heart.

    He truly enjoys working with his staff and the CSI Calgary team, but the connection to his customers is particularly special. He says they come for food, but they also come for comfort. “It’s a service industry” he explains, “But it’s not just food, we joke and laugh and sometimes the athletes will come to the back and give us hugs. Over time you build that trust with the customers.” Adds Erdman, “There is a great bond between Azouz and the athletes. He knows them by name, he knows what they order. He really understands their needs.”

    Not only does the Fuel for Gold team offer a healthy homemade meal, they also offer a little bit of home – a warm and welcoming place to share a meal, share a laugh or share a tough day. For Azouz and his customers it’s the little things that make a big difference. He says, “When you see the customers happy it’s all worth it.”

    Last year Fuel for Gold served more than 36,000 meals to athletes.  For more information go to fuelforgold.com.

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

  • There were moments along the road to recovery where cyclist Tara Whitten felt things were not coming back the way they were supposed to. Her head and neck were immobilized in a brace for ten weeks, so that a crack in the base of her skull could heal. In order to keep training, she rode a stationary bike. “It wasn’t going well at first with the brace,” she recalls. “I was really overheating and the position was uncomfortable.”

    Inexplicably, Whitten crashed head first into the back of a parked vehicle on her way back to the hotel after her final training ride in Rio at a reconnaissance camp in March. “I don’t remember what happened,” she says. “I’m missing twenty minutes of memory. I just remember seeing the back of the vehicle, it’s almost like a memory, a flash image.” The crash resulted in a concussion and crack in her occipital bone – her bike was undamaged.

    Despite the setback, Whitten was able to quickly overcome her disappointment and anger. “I surprised myself when I got back and my perspective was really good. Pretty soon I accepted that I might not recover in time. I accepted that it might not happen.” Still, Whitten approached her recovery with unwavering focus and determination to do whatever she could to get back on the bike, and on the starting line in Rio.

    That meant adjusting to some creative ways of enabling her to train. Dr. David Smith, Director of Sport Science at the CSI Calgary, was instrumental in helping Whitten train through her recovery. “I lay awake at night thinking about how we were going to get her on the bike with the neck brace on.” The result was a device that allowed Whitten to ride upright so that there was no downward pressure on her neck.

    Coming back from serious injury just months before the Olympics took an army of support. Even before her plane touched down in Calgary, Dr. Smith had mobilized a team to help Whitten heal and get back on track for the Olympics. The team worked closely with Whitten and made adjustments almost daily to maximize her recovery.

    “The CSI Calgary was incredible,” says Whitten. “I felt so supported through the whole process. There was huge collaboration between the support team and it was the best approach. I couldn’t have asked for a better team.” Dr. Smith says that Whitten did what she needed to do. “She had total trust in the support team in providing the right training and therapy, which minimized her recovery time,” he says.

    Shayne Hutchins, Paramedical Lead at the CSI Calgary, worked closely with Whitten throughout her recovery and was impressed with her internal fortitude. “Her healing capacity is something special,” he says. “Healing takes an incredible amount of energy, but that plus training, therapy and stress takes a lot from a person.“

    Whitten took things one day at a time. For someone used to planning out her entire season a year in advance, not knowing what would happen was challenging. “I wasn’t sure how quickly I would come back,” she says. Dr. Smith and the team had a similar outlook, “We always said we’re just going to do our best, no matter what adversity or challenge comes our way.”

    Whitten still had to qualify for the Olympic team and had just one chance at a race in Quebec in early June. Her ability to race was in question up to the last minute. “Two weeks before the race Doc questioned whether I should go,” she recalls. “But as soon as I got the brace off it was night and day. I felt awesome. Just being outside again was amazing.” Doc says, “The day after the brace was off, Tara did a workout that convinced me she was ready to go.”

    Perhaps not surprisingly, she placed second in that race and was the top Canadian. “I believed it was possible,” she says. “I did surprise myself in that first race back – I was thinking ‘just race, be in the moment.’” Three weeks later at the Canadian National Championships she won the time trial by 1:18, a huge margin. It meant securing her spot in Rio and regaining her potential as a medal threat.

    It’s impossible to predict where Whitten might have found herself now if the injury hadn’t happened. A fork in the road that cannot be untraveled has reshaped her journey to Rio, a turn that could have ended her career. Remarkably, Whitten is unfazed by the detour. “Right now, I feel like I’m exactly where I would want to be.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    27/07/16

  • Riding 750km in five days around Puerto Vallarta, Mexico might not sound like a break to most people, but for Canadian long track speed skater Jordan Belchos it was just the thing to help him kick-start his Olympic season. Throw in a couple of days eating tacos on the beach though, and then maybe you’ve got a recipe for a nice off-season, too.

    Belchos’ main competitive season ended in February after the World Single Distance Championships but he didn’t want to lose any fitness, so he first opted to travel to the Netherlands to train with a pro-team and race a few marathons. “I wanted to train super hard and not waste any time,” he says.

    His post-season trip to Mexico with a few teammates and girlfriend Valerie Maltais, a short track skater, led him back home to Calgary, where Belchos continued with some easy riding to avoid losing any of that built-up fitness. “My thinking on it is to come back to training not having lost any aerobic capacity. I enjoy riding and it keeps me in shape.”

    Canadian skeleton athlete Jane Channell took a different approach to her off-season. After three months straight of being on the road competing on the World Cup circuit she was mentally and physically exhausted and headed home to Vancouver for some serious rest and relaxation, prescribed by her coach.

    “I didn’t get out of my pj’s for a week!” she laughs. “I slept a lot and didn’t do very much but I felt like I should be doing something. It’s sort of like melting into yourself and you become a bag of goo but by the second week you get the itch to start moving again.”

    In many sports, the off-season strikes a fine balance between taking the mental and physical break the mind and body need without losing strength and fitness due to inactivity. It’s ultimately the individual’s choice and likely influenced to some degree by the nature of the training required for their sport.

    Nick Simpson, the CSI Calgary strength and power coach working with the long track team, says he values the break, in fact he himself took his own mental break in April, but appreciates that it’s different for each athlete. “For many of the speed skaters I work with they just love sport and physical activity. Most of them don’t enjoy sitting around. What’s key is that the break is unstructured, no matter what the athlete chooses to do.”

    Simpson says that this year, more so than previous years, some athletes kept up with their training during the break. “In the past they would take a full month off but this year felt that they didn’t want to waste that time,” he says.

    Many athletes worked on corrective exercises prescribed by the medical team after physio assessments. Simpson says this can help prevent injuries over the course of the season. “With the athletes taking care of themselves in the off-season they are coming into the season more solid to begin with.”

    Channell says starting up again can be a bit of a shock to the system. “At first my joints feel rusty and muscles feel loose instead of tight,” she says. “But it feels good, I feel like I’m ready to go. It’s nice to have a schedule again.”

    For Belchos the choice to keep training was motivated by an intense desire to improve. “I want to be competing for medals and start the season at a good level, not playing catch-up with the guys already winning medals,” he explains. “I wanted to come back fit, in shape.”

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

  •  

  • 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

     

  • 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

  • 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.”

  • The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary’s (CSIC) Athlete Development Project achieved its first international success on November 8 when Kirsti Lay won a silver medal at World Cup #1 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Lay joined the 2014 World Championship silver medalists to start off the season after being a competitive track cyclist for only two years.

    Lay, a former speed skater, was forced to retire from skating in 2012 due to injury problems. Knowing that speed skaters have a long history of moving successfully to the velodrome, CSIC Athlete Development Manager Paula Jardine approached her about transferring her skills to the bike through the Athlete Development Project. The program is an initiative of the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary whose objective is to identify and fast track the development of targeted athletes into national team programs.

    Lay is grateful for the opportunity to accelerate her progression as an elite athlete in another sport, saying, “Being a part of the CSIC’s development program really gave me the first step into track cycling and allowed me to see my potential in this sport. Under the guidance of Dr. David Smith, Director of Sport Science, coach Phil Abbott, and the entire sport science lab, I had a successful transition from speed skating. They identified my cycling weaknesses and continually tested and monitored my training to give me the best chance of performance. Without them, I would never have tried cycling."

    CSIC is pleased to have more representation on the medal winning cycling team than their Athlete Development Project athlete. Lay joinedanother CSIC rider, Allison Beveridge, to team up with veteran track team members Stephanie Roorda and Jasmin Glaesser.

    Despite being just 21-years-old, Beveridge has been a CSIC athlete for five years and has both World Cup and World Championship medals to her credit. She knows how fortunate she is to have grown up in a city where she has the opportunity to work with the Canadian Sport Institute, saying the “CSI has helped me over the past five years to provide me with a training environment in Calgary, a city that is not always ideal for riding. The services they offer have helped me make the jump onto the elite national team and continue to help me develop as a rider and athlete. Recently I have started training with a strength coach out of the CSIC that has helped me become a more balanced athlete both on and off the bike.”

    The team’s next stop is World Cup #2 in London, England at the beginning of December, while their major focus for the season is on winning another medal at the World Championships in Paris in February.

    To find out more on the Athlete Development Project please contact Paula Jardine, Athlete Development Manager, at (403) 819-1960.

    Stay in the loop!

    Writer Brittany Schussler: @bschussler
    Photo Credit: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto
    Kirsti Lay: @layk88
    Allison Beveridge: @Not_Alli_Bev

  •  

  • 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

  • Excitement is building in this pre-Olympic season as athletes, coaches and members of the CSI Calgary Integrated Support Teams travel to PyeongChang, Korea to explore and compete for the first time in the new venues. Olympic test events are being held in anticipation of the Games, which start in just over 300 days.

    Canadian winter World Cup and World Championship results to date this season have been very strong. Last week after 505 events, Canada is currently in the top three nations for both total medals and total gold medals.

    Throughout the PyeongChang Olympic test events, history is being made. In addition to other stellar Canadian performances, Calgary’s Sam Edney became the first Canadian male to reach a Luge podium in the men’s singles events outside of Canada, winning Bronze in February’s Viessmann Luge World Cup. Coming off a series of injuries, three-time Olympian Edney took the last year off to recover, build back his strength and focus on school.

    A CSI Calgary supported athlete, Edney is a 15-year veteran of the National Luge Team. “I had a really good, solid week of training so I had a lot of confidence knowing the majority of the guys were having issues on the track,” added Edney. “I might be the old dog on Tour, but I think that is to my advantage when we get to a new track where it takes the experience, and the volume of runs I have on the tracks around the world, to help pick up new things for a new track.

    Tim Farstad, Executive Director of Luge Canada says that this season heading into Korea, Canada’s Luge team athletes are proving to be strong and motivated. “The Team is hungry after getting three fourth place and one fifth place finishes in Sochi. They’ve been working hard for three years now to move into the medal spots in the next Olympic Games. As we’ve seen this season, each one of these athletes has medal potential.”

    Jeremiah Barnert, CSI Calgary Strength and Conditioning coach, has been a member of the Luge support team since 2009, accompanying them in the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games. “Sam’s success was really exciting,” says Barnert. “He came back strong after taking a year off.” Barnert goes on to explain that he is on the road with the Luge team for 10 – 14 weeks a year. With a small team, and two of four support staff from CSI Calgary, it’s a tight-knit family. “The family feel is what makes our team strong.”

    Having recently spent two weeks in PyeongChang, Barnert confirmed that the new Olympic venue is in good shape, the people are great and everything is well organized

    Olympic test events give athletes the opportunity to get familiar with the new venues, officials the ability to fine-tune large international events, and volunteers coming from across the world have the opportunity to give feedback.

    By the end of March, Canadian athletes will have competed in PyeongChang at:

    FIS World Cup Snowboard (big air)
    ISU World Cup Short Track event
    Alpine FEC & President Cup
    FIS Cross Country World Cup
    FIS Nordic Combined World Cup
    World Single Distance Championships (speed skating)
    FIS Freestyle World Cup
    FIS Snowboard World Cup
    FIS Ski Jumping World Cup
    Four Continents Figure Skating Championships
    World Junior Curling Championships
    FIL Luge World Cup
    IBU Biathlon World Cup
    FIS Alpine World Cup
    IBSF World Cup of Bobsleigh and Skeleton

    Canada expects to send its largest team ever to an Olympic Winter games with an estimated 240 athletes joining more than 6000 competitors from up to 95 countries. Immediately following are the 12th Paralympic Winter Games with athletes from 45 countries, six sports with 80 medal events.

    For more information on PyeongChang 2018, check out the official website: https://www.olympic.org/pyeongchang-2018

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Lisa Thomson
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    08/03/17

  • Two-time Olympic bobsledder Jesse Lumsden knows a thing or two about preparing for the future. The former CFL star already planned and made one transition from football to bobsled in time for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Now, the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) supported athlete is preparing for yet another career transition, from the sport world to the business world.

    Prior to the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014, Pacesetter Directional Drilling, led by CFO Chad Robinson, was sponsoring Lumsden. In order to maximize the partnership, Lumsden began meeting Robinson once per quarter to discuss sport, work, and life. The topic of career transition was addressed and Robinson felt that there was a fit for Lumsden in Resource Merchant Capital (RMC), a firm that invests in the private oil and gas market. Seizing the opportunity, Lumsden made the decision to shift his focus from sport after Sochi to prepare for his next career transition.

    Of his work in the corporate world, Lumsden notes, “It has not been an easy transition. I am under-educated and out of my league in certain situations. I lean on those around me for guidance and if I make a mistake I do not make it twice. It is no different than starting a new sport, it just requires using different muscles. It takes the same amount of effort and dedication, just a different focus. I encourage all athletes to start training and working. You do not realize how fast a sports career goes by until it is almost over.”

    With the next Olympic Winter Games only two years away, Lumsden is starting to refocus, saying, “The next five months are very important for me. In June, I will begin training with the bobsled team full time in preparation for the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang while continuing to work part time with RMC. I am very fortunate, as my return to sport was always known and supported by both Chad Robinson and RMC.”

    CSI Calgary Director of Stakeholder Relations Cara Button is impressed by the relationship that Robinson and Lumsden have formed. She hopes that more athletes and companies will create these mutually beneficial situations, emphasizing, “Game Plan is actively working on finding flexible work opportunities for athletes. Jesse’s story is a great example of how companies can contribute to athletes not only through sponsorship but by potentially engaging them in their business as well. Jesse took advantage of a sponsorship opportunity to develop a relationship. He is not leaving anything up to chance by waiting until his sport career is over.”

    For more information on Game Plan, visit www.mygameplan.ca or contact Cara Button at cbutton@csicalgary.ca 

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

  • The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSIC) would like to congratulate all of the athletes who competed at the Parapan Am Games in Toronto from August 7-15, 2015. Team Canada finished second in the medal count with a total of 50 gold, 63 silver, and 55 bronze medals. CSIC athletes contributed to the team’s results in a big way, with Morgan Bird, Zachary McAllister, and Zach Madell winning gold medals, Jennifer Brown winning gold and silver, Michael Sametz, Kirstie Kasko, Chad Jassman, Peter Won, and Arinn Young earning silver medals, and Aron Ghebreyohannes, Tiana Knight, Blair Nesbitt, Tammy Cunnington, as well as the women’s and men’s sitting volleyball teams earning bronze medals.

    Chosen to carry the Canadian flag and lead Team Canada into the closing ceremonies was 21-year-old wheelchair rugby athlete Zak Madell. He describes the atmosphere of competing at a home games as, “Better than I could ever have dreamt of. The fan support and energy of the city of Toronto were unbelievable. The announcement that I was carrying the flag was made to the whole rugby team just minutes after receiving our gold medals at the ceremonies, so the rush of emotions was truly overwhelming.”

    A member of the CSIC since 2011, Madell believes that he utilizes the CSIC’s services to the fullest potential, working with “a Strength & Conditioning coach three times a week as well as accessing therapy for rehab and injury prevention whether it be acupuncture, ultrasound or massage to keep the body in tip-top shape.” Madell says he owes a lot of credit to “the CSIC for all of their support, as well as my personal sponsor Vesco Metal Craft for all of my wheelchairs and parts.”

    Chris Osmond, Madell’s Strength and Conditioning Coach, is not shocked by Madell’s success. He describes working with him as a privilege, saying, “Zak is a tremendous athlete and person. He is passionate about his craft, extremely determined, and gives nothing less than 100% each time he trains or competes. He is kind, compassionate and strives to be the best person he can be on or off the gym floor.”

    By accomplishing their goal of winning the Parapan Am gold medal, the wheelchair rugby team has qualified for the 2016 Paralympics. After already winning a silver medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games, Madell says, “Now that we have had a taste of gold we hope to keep this hunger moving forward and continue to bring home the bling!”

    We look forward to watching the men’s rugby team in Rio next summer!

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

  • Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) Director of Strength and Conditioning Matt Jordan recently received the Dr. Gord Sleivert Young Investigator Award at the 10th annual SPIN Summit held in Toronto.

    The SPort INnovation (SPIN) Summit, hosted by Own the Podium, is a symposium for professional development in the areas of applied sport science, sports medicine, and innovation. The conference aims to bring experts together with the goal of achieving Olympic and Paralympic success.

    To be considered for the award, PhD candidates were asked to submit abstracts and create posters highlighting their research. The research posters were displayed at the conference to encourage discussion and generate ideas among the attendees. The top five students, chosen by a judging panel, were then asked to present five slides in five minutes at a conference social. Based on the presentations, three students were selected to receive the award as well as $1000 towards their educational pursuits.

    Jordan’s innovative PhD research is focused on functional neuromuscular assessment in alpine skiers with knee injuries. His goal is to develop tests to be used as part of a long-term study to identify modifiable risk factors for knee injuries. After working directly with the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, Jordan theorized that alpine ski related injuries often occur when the athlete is fatigued, especially if there is a quadriceps versus hamstring muscle imbalance. The results of his studies could lead to reduced injuries in Canadian alpine ski racers, increasing the amount of time that they are able to train and compete.

    The award-winning data that Jordan presented at SPIN came from the fourth of five studies that he is doing over the course of his PhD. Jordan is writing up the fourth study with the intent of getting it published. He will then work toward the fifth project and expect to complete it in the fall of 2016.

    Jordan has high expectations for his research. Ultimately, he hopes to take on graduate students at the University of Calgary and continue with the momentum generated in the CSI Calgary strength and power lab.

    CSI Calgary supports the cutting-edge concepts being generated by the members of their team. In total, CSI Calgary presented 8 posters on new and applied innovation projects focused on helping athletes succeed. In addition, former Biomechanics Consultant Luciano Tomaghelli was one of the five finalists for the Gord Sleivart Young Investigator Award for his research on kinetic factors associated with performance during the pull start in elite Canadian Luge athletes.

    Matt Jordan's SPIN Poster

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

  • 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

  • Competition day is familiar to me. I wake up early, take a mental note of my goals for the next 12 hours, make some coffee and tie my hair back in a tight pony tail. Somehow, today was familiar. Instead of my team Canada gear, I put on business appropriate attire and rather than rolling my fencing bag into the competition salle, I took the elevator up to the Deloitte office overlooking downtown Calgary. It was a clean slate to participate in Game Plan Day, an immersive in-office experience for Olympians, Paralympians and National Team athletes to explore career development and life after sport.

    At 8:45am I walked into the boardroom to sit with 16 of my Canadian teammates and scanned the room a few times to place them without their lycra, speed suits or skis. The team at Deloitte gave us a warm welcome and talked about the environment in which they work and how it supports people from all backgrounds to flourish in their own way. They emphasized the power of a non-traditional workplace and a high-performance culture. Instantly all the athlete’s eyes lit up and I think it sparked a world of possibility in that room. Deloitte proceeded to lay out the schedule for the day, packed with speakers, job shadows, networking and mock interviews.

    First was the job shadow portion of the day. I joined Tynan Wenarchuk, an analyst in the consulting practice at Deloitte. I showed up to his office eager to tag along with his morning, to find out that he was already on a call with Deloitte employees from across Canada strategizing on how to best deliver their message to the client they were advising. I was impressed with how interactive and productive the call was. With so many individuals on the line, I didn’t expect the team to come away with so many action items and clear ideas for their client. As an athlete, we are uniquely placed to effectively work within a team atmosphere to deliver a result under pressure. I quickly realized the skills I have honed as an athlete are incredibly transferable and useful to a different kind of team.

    Next was the mock interview. I was asked all the standard interview questions and with little work experience, I was able to convey my strengths, problem solving abilities and overcoming adversity easily through examples from my Olympic pursuits instead. Furthering the connection with what I have to offer and what employers are looking for, I quickly realized that interviewing requires concise, deliberate communication. Just like our lives in sport with our teams and coaches, effective communication delivers results.

    Finally, it was time for the speed networking portion of the event. With various Deloitte clients and partners in attendance, our task was to spend five minutes with each of them. Hearing about their individual career developments, it was evident that there is not a defined path but a common thread. Resiliency, hard work and seeking opportunity defined these leaders in their respective industries but it is also at the core of our make-up as athletes.

    After a morning jam-packed at the Deloitte office, I laced up my running shoes to reflect on what the day had taught me. My real takeaway from Game Plan Day was that the intangible assets we have polished to get to the Olympic stage are transferrable and desirable in life after sport. From applying teamwork skills in the boardroom, to using advocacy skills in interviews instead of lobbying coaches, the parallels are obvious. Relaying interesting experiences gained through sport to network provides a unique perspective. Years of sport provide an excellent springboard to success in the workforce.

    I would like to thank the Game Plan Team and Deloitte Canada for making this event possible and look forward to attending events in the future!

    Melanie McCann
    2012 & 2016 Olympian
    Modern Pentathlon

    Photo: Jared Armstrong

  • Sometimes small changes can make a big difference. For the Canadian men’s water polo team the change was simple – move two of ten weekly sessions from their usual training centre, to the CSI Calgary. It wasn’t until this strategy shift in the fall, along with a recent coaching change and collaboration with staff at the CSI Calgary, that the team’s eyes were opened to the benefits of the institute’s setting and services.

    The impact on the team was dramatic. Long-time veteran and goaltender Robin Randall describes what changed for the team, “At our main venue there weren’t a lot of athletes around and we were a bit isolated, but at CSI Calgary we were able to interact with the other athletes and get to know them. It created a sense of Team Canada for us, in that we are all Team Canada”.

    According to the team’s strength coach, Jeff Osadec, this modest change led to a palpable shift in team culture. “It changed the way they trained, they were now in an environment where they were surrounded by their peers from different sports and became a part of the CSI Calgary system and family.”

    CSI Calgary staff worked closely with the team’s coaches and managers. Osadec’s focus was working on the basics. He says, “because water polo is a skill-based sport where there isn’t a lot of transfer from the gym to the pool, the emphasis was on getting the athletes fit, strong and able to recover.” It wasn’t long before everyone noticed a difference. Randall confirms that, “the work we did with Jeff helped give us more confidence in our strength, which translated to the pool in many ways, like having more stability on defence.”

    A new training sequence was worked into the program by physiologist Dr. David Smith, and nutritionist Kelly Drager helped the men reach their needs of 5000-7000 calories a day. John Conway, an attacker, says “the level of expertise and professionalism in all sporting areas across CSI Calgary has given our team the tools we need to compete at an elite level.”

    At the recent Olympic qualifying tournament in Trieste, Italy, the team fell devastatingly short of earning their ticket to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics. Despite posting a comeback tie against Hungary in the preliminary stages – an unprecedented result that drew praise from other teams – a loss against Spain in the quarterfinals closed the book on this Olympic cycle. Conway sums up the disappointment that is still sinking in, “The difference in qualifying was one goal. As much of a heartbreak as that is, it can still be seen as a huge positive as we are within inches of qualifying for the Olympics.”

    Even still, there is a bright outlook for the future. “This team is the best we’ve ever fielded” says Randall. “We’ve never had a team of this quality before; it’s the greatest group of guys ever.” Adds Conway, “Our group has known for a while that we could do great things. Canada has been, and will continue to be, a top contending team in the sport of water polo.”

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

  • A dose of inspiration often appears after an unexpected turn. For Canadian long track speed skater Ted-Jan Bloemen, it came after injuring his wrist in a bike crash during a training ride that left him training on a stationary bike in his living room for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, this break led to plenty of time to take in the 2016 Olympic Games on television.

    “It was great to have the inspiration of the Games at that moment,” says Bloemen, current world record holder and 2015 world championship silver medalist in the 10,000m. “I remember thinking, “Ok, this is what I’m doing this for.” A timely and powerful reminder for one of the best speed skaters in the world.

    As the sport world now shifts focus from summer to winter sport, with the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang fast approaching, winter athletes like Bloemen are preparing to compete in their pre-Olympic season and Olympic test events.

    Concurrently, winter athletes are also shifting from summer training to competition mode, a progression that doesn’t happen overnight or by accident. In long track speed skating, the transition is a deliberate effort to refocus the mind from training to competing.

    This effort has been spearheaded by Derek Robinson, CSI Calgary Mental Performance Consultant and the Mental Performance Lead for Speed Skating Canada. Along with the Integrated Support Team (IST), he has spent the last several years developing a series of mental exercises and events that are integrated into each coach’s yearly training program, which serve to develop specific competition skills.

    “It’s very deliberate, purposeful, planned and debriefed,” says Robinson. The idea is that the athletes are presented opportunities throughout the season to help them improve competition focus. Robinson says they also measure how the athletes are doing, like evaluating how well they are embracing a particular challenge or responding to a debriefed message, which helps both the coaches and athletes understand how they are improving.

    Within this framework, athletes also progress through the transition to competition in their own, more organic way. Bloemen says he shifts his mind to competitive mode by focusing on short term and daily goals. “I have a hard time focusing on far away goals,” he says. “I’m more focused on what I can do now; the first race of the season.”

    He gains confidence from the progression of hard summer training to getting back on the ice to feeling the speed in fast laps. Eventually, the excitement returns and he thinks, “Oh yeah, I want to race again.”

    This is the kind of attitude that the IST is looking for. “We took them through competition simulations throughout the summer to remind them of that part of their mental performance. We’re now taking that from a general to specific focus,” says Scott Maw, CSI Calgary Sport Physiologist and IST Lead at Speed Skating Canada.

    That entails everything from the summer of training, to technical and tactical work, and mental and physical training. According to Maw, a lot of it is about them trusting what they did physically – it plays a big role in what they can do mentally.

    This blend of planned, deliberate preparation within the program and performance focused preparation is ultimately what enables higher level performance. Robinson’s key message – athletes have to learn to manage a fierce competitive desire with grit and race IQ. For Maw, it’s all about performance. “Performance is the true measure of how the program is working,” he says.

    This pre-Olympic season, Bloemen no doubt has his work cut out for him, but rest assured he is well prepared – freshly inspired, well-trained and ready to race.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    21/09/16

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  • 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

     

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  • 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

  • The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) congratulates Kelly Anne Erdman on her recent publication, an accomplishment she deems to be, “The greatest achievement of my career.” Erdman has been a source of knowledge in Canadian athletes’ lives for over two decades. Always up-to-date on cutting-edge research, Erdman has been a Performance Dietitian at the 2012 and 2014 Olympic Games as well as the 2011 Pan Am Games.

    Erdman began working at the CSI Calgary in 1994, paving the way in the field of sports nutrition. An Olympian in track cycling, Erdman continues to be aligned with the CSI Calgary, working predominantly with the speed skating team and Hockey Canada as the lead dietitian for both the women’s and sledge hockey programs and consulting with the men’s team. She also consults with a variety of sports including luge, heptathlon, and nordic skiing.

    For her recent publication, Erdman was hand-picked by Dietitians of Canada to be a co-author on the February 2016 position paper titled Nutrition and Athletic Performance: Position of Dietitians of Canada, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine. The publication is an in-depth report on the role of nutrition as a critical piece of high performance sport and shares the authors’ expertise by outlining evidence-based current recommendations for athletes’ nutrition.

    As one of three authors who spent a year and a half re-writing the paper based on current evidence, Erdman’s co-authors were American D. Travis Thomas from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Australian Louise M. Burke representing the American College of Sports Medicine. As science and sport are always evolving, this is the third time the paper has been re-written to update the information. Last published in 2011, the joint position paper will go through its next re-write in 2019.

    Erdman says that this re-write is more focused on the need for athlete nutrition to be customized. She believes that it is critical for athletes and their support teams to be aware of how an athlete’s nutrition needs vary on a daily basis. When asked the one piece of advice that she would give to her fellow Sport Dietitians, Erdman stresses that she believes in tailoring the message, customizing it for each athlete’s needs.

    Ultimately, it is evident that Erdman loves what she does and is an integral component to the success of Canada’s athletes. While the CSI Calgary knows that Erdman is very deserving of this recognition, she humbly emphasizes, “It was a huge honour for me to represent sport dietitians in Canada, and I would not have been given the opportunity to work on this piece of literature had I not been affiliated with a high performance institute such as the CSI Calgary.”

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

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  • Athletes at the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSIC) are well prepared for life after sport thanks to tuition support provided by the Sport Canada Athlete Assistance Program (AAP) and services provided by the CSIC.

    Sport Canada supports carded athletes in Calgary by paying for up to $5000 in education fees annually. The AAP contributes to athletes' "pursuit of excellence" and helps Canadian athletes combine their sport and academics. This program also allows athletes to bank their tuition support for use once their athletic careers are completed thus eliminating the pressure to take full time classes while they are in the midst of training and competing.

  • 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

  • Shoes off, standing in socked feet, instinctively sensing the next move, following the athlete’s performance with his body and mind. This is how you will find Kyle Shewfelt, 2004 Olympic gold medalist, doing his job as the CBC gymnastics analyst at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero. Shewfelt’s approach is unusual, but one he comes by honestly after discovering he just doesn’t feel right sitting behind a desk.

    “The words don’t come to me when I sit, I feel flat. So I started standing. I’m free and the words started to come out with more energy” says Shewfelt, who’s heading to his third Olympics as a broadcaster. He adds, “You get a sixth sense as a former gymnast of what move is coming next. I’m there grabbing the bar with them.” Shewfelt relishes the opportunity to share this knowledge – he knows most of the athletes’ routines by heart – and his passion for gymnastics with the thousands of viewers at home watching the Games.

    For Shewfelt, one of six CSI Calgary alumni filling television roles for the CBC in Rio, there are two key things that contribute to broadcasting success: extensive research and preparation, and being genuinely excited to see it all unfold. The biggest challenge though, and often the most difficult to learn, is being able to communicate that knowledge and passion effectively to the viewer in an entertaining way.

    “Economy of language is so important and it’s exceptionally difficult to do” says Kelly VanderBeek, Olympian and alpine skier-turned-broadcaster. In television, there is no room for long-winded or technically complex commentary. Shewfelt agrees, “It’s knowing when to talk and when to let the action breathe. It’s pinpointing the moments when the action speaks louder than my words. I want my comments to add to the performance rather than distract from it.”

    In addition to educating viewers, analysts weave in storytelling and react to what is happening in the moment, meaning they may have to change their tack quickly, and smoothly, from telling a story about an athlete to explaining a sudden error or change in play. In many respects, the analysts need to perform on demand in much the same way they did as athletes. Blythe Hartley, Olympic bronze medalist in diving finds, “when I’m on the air, the feelings I have mimic what athletes feel – I have to respond in the moment, perform when it counts. I get nervous and feel the adrenaline rush.”

    However, the switch from sport to broadcasting isn’t necessarily an easy one. Good athletes don’t inevitably make good TV analysts or personalities. But many of the qualities and skills that propelled them to the top of their sport are what make them good broadcasters, too. Namely, endless practice, being coachable and an attitude that they can always improve and get better. A little bit of star power helps too.

    VanderBeek didn’t seek out a career as a broadcaster. It was a happy accident borne out of a devastating knee injury that forced her to the sidelines before the 2010 Winter Olympics. Her on-air performance during those Games was notable and noticed and since then she has been to three Olympics and taken on the Calgary Stampede and Rogers Cup Tennis. “I just fell into this and it turns out I’m really good at it,” she says with a laugh.

    Still, VanderBeek, like Shewfelt and Hartley, works incredibly hard to hone her new craft, collecting stacks of binders full of background research prior to each Games. Her work is primarily centred on telling the human story of the games and about the families behind the athletes. She helps bring the athletes to life beyond their sport, connecting them with the viewers.

    This is ultimately the end goal – these former athletes telling the story of the Games and engage Canadians with their knowledge, skill and personality. For all, it is an honour to have the opportunity and one they take very seriously. For Shewfelt, it goes one step further, “I try to remember that there is some kid out there watching who’s going to fall in love with gymnastics. I want to connect with that kid.”

    Let the Games begin!

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo: Kelly VanderBeek
    13/07/16

  • 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

  • Working with para athletes requires more than just the knowledge of sport specific training and physiology, it demands a special creativity. Tessa Gallinger and Bryan Yu are two CSI Calgary Strength and Conditioning Coaches working with para athletes, adapting their training environment where necessary to meet individual requirements.

    Pursuing her MSc., Gallinger is specializing in muscle length changes with sport-specific velocity training in young adults with cerebral palsy. Having worked with adaptive sports for almost six years, she stresses that keeping it simple is paramount to creating adaptive programming.

    “Coaches working with para athletes need to have a good understanding of sport and the type of impairment they are working with, but it doesn’t need to be complicated.” Gallinger explains. “You don’t need fancy equipment, you just have to be creative in applying your knowledge and adapting it to meet individual needs.”

    Yu adds, “There is a lot of thought that goes into making small changes. Coaches need to understand how the impairment affects athlete performance.” He finds training with smaller, diverse groups and developing organic solutions and adjustments is a welcome challenge. “I love the creative element required in adaptive programming – I have to be thinking outside the box.”

    Pro Stergiou, CSI Calgary Biomechanist and Performance Analyst uses technology for the assessment of athletic performances in para sports. Over the years he has worked closely with goalball, para-swimming and sledge hockey. He enjoys working with para athletes and the wide range of adaptations that can be made to fit individual needs. “Working with para athletes is very rewarding,” says Stergiou. “With small changes in either training or technique, you can make big differences.”

    Gallinger, Stergiou and Yu are hosting a workshop in the CSI Calgary on March 25 as part of the 2017 Adapted Physical Activity (APA) Symposium put on by Mount Royal University, The Steadward Centre for Personal and Physical Achievement and sponsored by the Alberta Sport Connection.

    This third semi annual Symposium is a unique opportunity for stakeholders involved in sport and recreation for persons with disabilities to meet and share best practices, common challenges and ways to address them. “We are thrilled to have the CSI Calgary expertise for the Symposium,” says David Legg, Professor at Mount Royal University and Chair of the Organizing Committee. “CSI Calgary adds a significant level of knowledge as one of the leading international sport science institutes for Paralympic athletes. Delegates will have unique access to some of the most innovative thinkers in adaptive sports and will have the opportunity to see techniques being implemented up close with Paralympic athletes.”

    What do the CSI specialists want workshop participants to come away with? They want people to understand that training para athletes doesn’t need to be flashy or complex. Working towards a high performance goal, the optimal training program takes into consideration individual requirements and makes as few adaptations to the program as possible.

    For more information on the 2017 Adapted Physical Activity Symposium March 23 – 25 www.apasymposium.com.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Lisa Thomson
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    01/03/17

     

  • Getting sucked into the online vortex of people selling the next big thing that will change your life is an easy slide. Snake oil, miracle cures and guaranteed diets abound – often for a lofty price. The strength and conditioning field is no different – there are countless ‘systems’ available for sale that claim to revolutionize the way athletes train and perform.

    The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) however, offers a distinctive approach to education. Now offering its Strength and Power Performance course for the fourth time in three years, the CSI Calgary aims to cut through the fads and get to the heart of strength and conditioning edification.

    The course is led by Dr. Matt Jordan, CSI Calgary Director, Strength and Conditioning. He says it’s is different because it’s all about sharing knowledge and creating a powerful learning environment where participants can apply new skills in a real-world training setting.

    “We’re not interested in a cookie cutter approach that tends to be pervasive in the strength and conditioning business where everyone is trying to sell something,” says Jordan, who works with high performance athletes in Alpine, Cross Country skiing and Speed Skating. “This course is about sharing knowledge – we have nothing to sell. We simply want people to walk away a better coach.”

    This year the course is being offered in two streams, based on feedback received from previous courses. The first stream is designed to drive education in sport and power performance. This is for coaches looking to expand their knowledge and learn about the CSI Calgary strength and conditioning system.

    The focus is on providing a powerful learning experience through shadowing opportunities, experiential learning and application of new knowledge. For example, participants will go through an exercise with an athlete to learn movement assessment skills. Other knowledge and skill development includes exercise selection, programming and loading parameters.

    The second stream is for a high-level group of strength and power coaches who come together to share knowledge. This stream emerged as coaches began to recognize the advanced nature of the CSI Calgary system and consists of hot topic discussions, serving as a ‘think tank’ to further advance the strength and conditioning.

    Jordan says the second stream is a collaborative approach where participants can make new contacts in their network. Participants will also be offering presentations in their own areas of expertise to the first stream group, which broadens the scope of the course and achieves the goal of knowledge sharing.

    “With this course we’ve been able to attract some very bright people who not only attend to learn, but also share their work with us so we all benefit,” adds Jordan. This year we have coaches from a professional NBA team and a group from the NACL Return to Sport Clinic in Minnesota will attend the second stream and present to the first stream.

    It’s a refreshing take on education in the field of strength and conditioning, and a role that Jordan and his group at CSI Calgary take very seriously. “We’re not selling smoke and mirrors,” says Jordan. “We’re here to share knowledge.”

     

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto
    03/05/17

  • From May 4-8, 2015, the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary hosted its first ever Strength and Power Performance Course at Canada Olympic Park. Created and facilitated by Matt Jordan, the Director of Strength and Conditioning at the CSIC, the course provided participants with the opportunity to engage with and learn from all of the head strength coaches of national teams based at the CSIC. Jordan's goal was to develop knowledgeable strength and conditioning coaches who are passionate, open and eager to learn. Course participants registered from locations across North America. The course concept allowed the CSIC's head coaches to share their expertise for integrating the science and practice of strength and conditioning.

    Throughout the course, each of the CSIC's national team head strength coaches taught methods to assess, monitor, program, and deliver strength and power training. The daily curriculum included methods for athlete intake processes, physical assessments, neuromuscular activation, exercise prescription, advance programming, and learning to detect and monitor functional deficits in elite athletes. Participants were encouraged to have critical thinking when discussing strength and power research. Upon course completion, each participant was awarded a Certificate of Continuing Education from The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA.com).

    The opportunity to have round table discussions was one of the highlights for the attendees. Retired Olympic Silver Medallist Justin Warsylewicz participated in the class, noting, "The interaction with the coaches, as well as the other class members, provided the opportunity to learn and develop from other people's experiences. I would recommend this course to anyone interested in pursuing strength coaching. I feel that there was a lot of great information for experienced coaches as well."

    Thanks to a high level of interest, the Strength and Power Performance Course will be offered again from November 16-20, 2015.

    For more information and to register please visit http://csicalgary.ca/SPPCourse

     

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

  • 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

  • Sport – is it art or science, or both? There’s no question that in today’s quest for ever higher, faster and stronger athletes, sport has increasingly evolved to rely on science as one of the primary tools for objectively measuring and improving athletic performance.

    When a coach or service provider has an idea for improving performance, such as a new training method or use of a new technology, it can be difficult to determine the impact it has on performance – there are so many variables at play. In the past, new ideas were sometimes implemented and evaluated in the field without much objectivity or scientific basis. Research was also often done in isolation, in academia, far away from the playing field. Today, there is a better way.

    Enter Dr. Erik Groves, Research and Innovation Lead at the CSI Calgary. His job is to evaluate the impact of new methodologies or technologies to support athlete training and recovery that will enhance performance using scientific investigation. “The goal is understanding if and how a new method or technology increases our understanding for athlete improvement,” says Groves.

    Groves works directly with NSO’s, coaches and service providers, and his research is often conducted in real-world settings with athletes in a variety of sports. His background in scientific research and sport makes him ideally suited to fill this cutting-edge role of applied research at the CSI Calgary.

    “What Erik brings is that research mind,” says Rosie Neil, Director of Development and Strategic Programs. “He applies that to evaluate an innovation through research.” That research mind is key when it comes to helping service providers and coaches wade through the waves of new training ideas and technologies that are constantly reaching the shore.

    Groves will take an idea that a coach has, or offer his own ideas, and work to objectively measure and evaluate the impact it has on performance. Adds Neil, “he knows how to collect data so it has the rigour to make a conclusion possible. He’s instrumental in disseminating that data in order to see the bigger picture.”

    In some cases, research is not possible until the right measurement tools are in place. For example, one of Groves’ current projects, funded by Own the Podium, is a new timing system at the Olympic Oval that will track speed skaters’ velocity during training. The data collected from this system will be intrinsically useful but will also offer several new opportunities for further research – research that wasn’t possible before.

    “We are building a technological foundation from which we can do research with sport specific data and testing protocols,” says Groves. “With these tools we have the capability of conducting high quality, sport specific research.”

    Groves’ work however, goes beyond solving one problem for one sport. “This is not just for a single sport,” he says. “By having a point person on the concept of research and innovation you can leverage the process for problem solving for one sport to another sport, it’s a synergistic effect.” This means that some of his research conclusions in one sport may be applicable to other sports, or perhaps the same methodology can be applied to a similar problem in another sport.

    Groves’ position didn’t always exist at the CSI Calgary; in fact, he is the first to fill it. Jason Poole, Director of Performance Services, says that adding the research and innovation role was part of the strategic plan to becoming a leading Canadian Sport Institute. “This is one of the pillars to being a true institute,” he says. “We’re not just there for service delivery but we actively do scientific research for better service.”

    For Neil, the value is not only in improving service delivery, but doing so with scientific precision and integrity. “For the CSI Calgary it is hugely important to have this role. We don’t want to work on hunches but be able to look objectively at how we move forward.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    31/08/16

  • 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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  • 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 impact that a coach can have on an athlete is profound. From nurturing development to guiding performance to fostering success – the coach is integral to the athlete experience and undoubtedly has the greatest influence on an athlete’s career. Ensuring that the experience remains positive and encouraging is an enormous responsibility for any coach.

    This responsibility has recently been bolstered by a new initiative coordinated by the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES). The Responsible Coaching Movement (RCM) is a system-wide movement designed to address the role coaches play with issues relating to the health and safety of athletes, both on and off the field of play.

    National, provincial, territorial and community sport organizations are encouraged to sign the pledge and adopt new policies to ensure the impact of coaches is a positive one for athletes and for Canadian sport. The CSI Calgary has recently become the first multi-sport organization in Canada to sign on to the RCM.

    By making the pledge, the CSI Calgary has committed to implementing supportive policies and processes that adhere to the three key areas of focus: the Rule of Two, Background Screening (including Criminal Record Checks) and Respect and Ethics Training. The Rule of Two ensures that two adults are present at competitions and training camps with minor athletes, which serves to protect minor athletes in potentially vulnerable situations.

    For Dale Henwood, President and CEO of the CSI Calgary, the RCM represents an opportunity for the institute and its coaches to uphold the highest standard of care for its athletes. “The RCM helps coaching as a profession, to ensure that we have good quality, ethical people working with our athletes,” says Henwood.

    The CSI Calgary has always worked towards providing a motivating encouraging and enjoyable environment for the athletes. Henwood says that the coach is an essential part of helping to create that. “We want to ensure that athletes are safe and that coaches are protected,” says Jason Sjostrom, CSI Calgary Coaching Program Director. “The CSI Calgary has a responsibility to support these policies.” Additionally, the RCM can increase awareness for all staff and volunteers involved in sport. According to Sjostrom, “when there are violations you have a vehicle to say ‘this isn’t right’. This RCM demands that accountability.”

    To date, the RCM has had great success, with more than forty NSOs, P/TSOs, and community clubs taking the pledge. Luge Canada was one of the first NSOs to take the pledge and nine others have since joined as well. The long-term goal is to see all NSOs take the pledge.

    Ultimately, the RCM is about providing a positive sport experience for athletes of all ages, from grassroots and community programs right up to high performance elite sport. Henwood says that from the beginning the CSI Calgary has worked to make sure coaches are having a positive impact on their athletes.

    Simply put, the RCM speaks to the heart of what is good and right. For Henwood, the decision to sign the pledge was easy. “When we went to the CSI Calgary board with this, it was strongly felt it was the right thing to do.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    29/03/17

  • 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

  • Juggling full-time school, training, and working a part-time job at a local coffee shop is a lot to manage for a young athlete. Slalom kayaker Ryley Penner is doing just that - which is why he’s thrilled about recently getting a little boost to help him on his way. The U23 national team member and CSI Calgary athlete is one of this year’s three recipients of the ARC Resources Inspiring Excellence Scholarship.

    In partnership with the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary, ARC Resources, a leading conventional oil and gas producer located in Calgary, awards three $2,500 scholarships annually. The goal is to inspire excellence by enhancing academic and athletic opportunities available to student athletes. The purpose of the scholarship is to lower financial barriers and enable student athletes to reach their full potential while also being strong and valuable members of the community.

    Wayne Lentz, ARC Resources Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, says the scholarship targets youth sport and education. “We are looking for genuinely passionate athletes who are pursuing sport and education as well as giving back to their communities,” he explains. “They are humble about their accomplishments and show balance in their lives.”

    This year, ARC Resources is proud to award three scholarships to CSI Calgary athletes:

    • Ryley Penner, Slalom Kayak
    • Carla Shibley, Para Cycling
    • Matthew Soukup, Ski Jumping

    For Penner, who is in his first year of a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology at Mount Royal University, this scholarship means everything. “My sport is not well funded in Canada and I rely on scholarships like this to do my sport. I need to cover my expenses all on my own, which is really challenging,” he says.

    Penner plans to use the funds for races next year, including the World Championships in Slovakia. The scholarship will also allow him to do more training camps and attend the senior national team trials in Whistler next May.

    Carla Shibley is a Paralympic cyclist who was diagnosed at age ten with Stargardt disease, an inherited form of juvenile macular degeneration that causes progressive vision loss. Shibley has big goals of representing Canada at the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020 and is working towards qualifying for a World Cup this season. She plans to use the scholarship to help fund her education – she is pursuing a Youth Justice diploma in Criminology at Bow Valley College.

    Despite her disability, Shibley has never been one to let herself be limited by her vision loss and credits her mom with not letting her use it as a crutch. “My vision is deteriorating and I’m slowly going blind,” she says. “Deep down it’s a scary feeling but I’m not going to let it get me down.” This kind of attitude and optimism are qualities that ARC Resources is proud to support.

    The scholarships are awarded on both merit and financial need. It can be a huge relief for athletes like Shibley and Penner to receive financial support like this. “All the costs add up,” says Shibley. “It’s a choking feeling.” Penner agrees, “My sport is not very high profile so it’s difficult to attract sponsors. I have to work really hard to make it happen.”

    It’s for this reason that ARC Resources keeps on giving. After six years of awarding the scholarships, the company has welcomed and enjoyed updates from past recipients, many of whom have moved on to successful new careers and are active members in their community.

    ARC Resources is also grateful for the opportunity to partner with the CSI Calgary. Says Lentz, “We are very proud of this initiative and thankful to the CSI Calgary for helping us to keep it going,”

     

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    16/11/16

     

  • Lying awake, staring at the clock, heart pounding, tossing, turning and worrying about not sleeping... Oh, the despair! A fitful sleep the night before a big race is disconcerting for any athlete. While this experience can be unsettling, what is more critically important when it comes to sleep is quality and duration over the long term.

    According to Dr. Amy Bender, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Calgary and Centre for Sleep and Human Performance, missing a few hours of sleep the night before competition is unlikely to impact performance. Rather, it’s the persistent lack of adequate sleep throughout a training block or whole season that can negatively affect an athlete. “Chronic deprivation is the main concern and we are trying to manage that across an entire season,” she says.

    “Ongoing research points to an association between performance and sleep duration and quality,” says Dr. Bender. Studies in the literature support the link between sleep and performance. However it’s difficult to control for every variable as performance improvements can be attributed to other things, such as practice.

    Jess Kryski, CSI Calgary Sport Physiologist for Canada’s Cross Country Skiing and Biathlon teams, says she’s noticed a potential association between sleep and performance with her athletes. In one instance, two athletes were going through periods of decreased sleep quality and quantity during the race season. “Their performance was not good and although we can’t attribute that just to sleep issues, it definitely seemed to play a role,” says Kryski.

    The lack of recovery from training and racing due to sleep issues is challenging to overcome. In Kryski’s experience, with some athletes suffering from periods of poor sleep it didn’t matter how much their training was adjusted, she couldn’t successfully load them the way she wanted to because recovery were simply not there.

    Additionally, Kryski says, “over the years working with the teams and using the monitoring tools we have, it seems that when things aren’t going well in training or racing it tends to line up with sleep quality and duration.”

    Dr. Bender is the primary investigator for a number of ongoing studies examining sleep and its relationship to recovery and performance in CSI Calgary athletes. She works with athletes and teams across Canada to assess baseline sleep and the impact of sleep optimization strategies. Additionally, Dr. Bender works with teams to implement jet lag management strategies, which consist of a travel plan, both pre-trip and at the destination.

    Using the Athlete Sleep Screening Questionnaire and a wrist-worn activity monitor, Dr. Bender evaluates an athlete’s typical wake and sleep habits and patterns. The athlete will then implement sleep optimization strategies, for example more nighttime sleep, naps and reducing exposure to blue light before bedtime.

    Finally, Dr. Bender will assess athlete sleep during the optimization period and compare it to the baseline. While sleep duration is typically measured with the wrist-worn activity monitor, sleep quality is primarily a subjective measurement achieved via questionnaires. Data is currently being analyzed and preliminary results indicate less reported fatigue and improved moods, as well as improved satisfaction with sleep quality during the optimization phase as compared to baseline.

    One of the most challenging habits for athletes to change is their exposure to blue light from electronic devices in the hours before bedtime, which can negatively impact sleep. “The blue light tells our brain to wake up, which can impact how long it takes to fall asleep and waking up during the night,” says Dr. Bender. “It decreases melatonin secretion, the hormone that makes you sleepy at night.”

    During the sleep optimization phase, athletes are instructed to use blue blocking glasses that block out 99% of the blue light from screens. This can reduce its negative effects on sleep for athletes who are exposed to screen time in the two hours before bedtime.

    Ultimately, the goal of Dr. Bender’s research is to improve performance through better sleep. It represents another piece of the puzzle in the quest to enable athletes to achieve their potential in sport. To sleep, perchance to win!

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto
    26/10/16

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  • When the last shot is taken, the last finish line is crossed or the final race is won, athletes have to create new lives for themselves. For some this task comes easily, for others it can be an exercise in despair. Fortunately, with Game Plan, powered by Deloitte, there is now a wealth of resources available to retiring athletes to help them take those first few, sometimes difficult, steps.

    However, even though Game Plan is there and ready for the taking, athletes don’t always know about it or have time to engage with the services offered prior to retirement. So, Elise Marcotte, Marketing and Communications Manager for Game Plan, developed a new pilot project to help bridge the gap between athletes and Game Plan.

    The idea is to recruit Champions who will act as role models within the Game Plan community by sharing their experience and positively influencing their peers with tangible actions of their own choice. The campaign also aims to raise awareness of the program beyond Game Plan’s current audience through social media.

    Six Champions were selected from across Canada, including Monique Sullivan, 2012 & 2016 Olympian in track cycling, who is the Game Plan Champion at CSI Calgary. Her plan is to reach out to newly carded athletes and support or encourage activities outside of sport that will ultimately helped them when they retire.

    Sullivan says she recognizes that not all athletes feel supported in their desire to pursue things outside of sport, like education or work opportunities. “I always had a couple of things outside of sport to keep me balanced while I was competing,” she says. “I want to be the voice for those athletes wishing to do the same.”

    The pilot program runs from May 1 to July 31 and Marcotte says that each Champion has a different project that will be monitored to ensure they are implemented and then measured for impact. The goal of the program is to involve the athletes and encourage word-of-mouth to engage athletes with what Game Plan offers.

    For most athletes, the thought of retirement or pursuing extracurricular activities is completely foreign and Sullivan says Game Plan tends to be one of those things you don’t realize you need until it’s too late. “Sport is pretty full-on and some athletes aren’t able to take on anything else or don’t need to,” she says. “But when sport is suddenly gone you have no idea how you’ll react to that.”

    Sullivan says her transition out of sport has gone well – she’ll begin graduate work this fall in the new field of engineering education and is currently working full-time in community outreach for the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary, where she recruits women into engineering.

    She credits her commitment to education while competing, using Game Plan and the relationship she has with CSI Calgary-based Game Plan Advisor, Cara Button, with helping her find her way in a post-sport world. Now as a Game Plan Champion she wants to help others do the same. She sums it up well: “It’s all about planning for the unknown.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
    07/06/17

  • The Canadian Long Track Speed Skating Team is doing extraordinary things, both on and off the ice. Recently wrapping up a breakthrough season for many athletes, the team has found a formula for success.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary Mental Performance Consultant Derek Robinson has been a catalyst for the new team culture. Among a number of new ideas, Robinson implemented a new team custom which has athletes sign the Canadian flag when they qualify for a racing team. The athletes then have a second signing ceremony if they win an international medal.

    Robinson, who works with teams including Speed Skating Canada, Alpine Canada and Hockey Canada says, “One of the great things about the CSI Calgary is how they foster personal development. The CSI Calgary encourages its staff to work with established industry leaders, coaches, and support staff. I have learned more about the psychology of performance from working with people who truly understand what it takes to win the right way than I ever did in graduate school.”

    What prompted Robinson to create this unique tradition? He believes, “The psychology of performance is about the team culture. In reality, to compete against the best in the world under pressure you must be a team. You cannot do it by yourself. The challenge is how do we become a unified team? It starts with knowing the values that drive our culture and the foundation of what we are about and how we do things. The Canadian flag is signed by members of this team because there is deep personal meaning for our athletes to compete for Canada. It is the identity of the team that matters.”

    One of Speed Skating Canada’s new stars, Heather McLean, took the world by storm this season winning four World Cup medals. Of the flag signing ritual, she says, “It's such a unique and Canadian tradition! I am inspired by the flag ceremony because I am so focused on my own races during the competition that I lose track of the bigger picture and the flag signing always brings it back. I love to observe and learn from other elite athletes and hearing what they have to say about their performances is really inspiring.”

    As the team’s custom proves, talk is trivial unless it is backed by a strong belief and daily embodiment of the ideals. Robinson emphasizes, “Unless you are in the room with these people, you can not really appreciate what these words are saying, let alone the passion and emotional experience of the athlete who signs the flag.”

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

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