Canadian Sport Instute
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  • Determined. Demanding. Loyal.

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

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

    Rachel Machin with Les Gramantik

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary

    Written by Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler

    Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto

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

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

     

    Cowntdown of the Top 5 CSI Calgary performances from 2015 


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


    #4  NeCanadiaTakes SpeeSkatinTeatUnprecedented Level

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    LimitsPushed 2015

     

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

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 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
  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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
  • 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

  • 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

  •  

  • 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

  • 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

  •  

  • For many athletes, the start of 2016 brings the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games deeper into focus. This is the case for Canada’s top ranked women wrestlers: Jasmine Mian, Danielle Lappage, Erica Wiebe, Dorothy Yeats, Michelle Fazzari, Samantha Stewart, and Jillian Gallays.

    The athletes and their support team were at WinSport from January 4-8 for their Olympic kick-off training camp with the goal of building their Olympic performance plan. Athletes first went through medical evaluations led by Dr. Katie MacGregor followed by strength, physiological and nutritional assessments at the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary). This was to determine their preparation state and identify where improvements are needed leading into the Games.

    Head Wrestling Coach for the Olympic Games Leigh Vierling also used the camp to work with his athletes on a Key Opponent Analysis. Strength and Conditioning Coach Mac Read saw extreme value in the camp format because, “Normally the wrestling camps have up to 40 athletes. We had seven female athletes allowing for much more individual attention and focus. They also worked together to build a strong team atmosphere.”

    Physiologist Erin Sargent worked with the athletes on their cardiovascular conditioning to ensure that they can sustain high intensity throughout a match. She notes that this will also “help improve their ability to recover between matches as the athletes can have up to six or seven matches in one day.”

    Under the direction of Wrestling Canada, Registered Dietitian Kelly Drager examined all aspects of the recovery and weight cutting processes that wrestlers need to perform before every major competition.

    Jasmine Mian, a 48-kilogram wrestler, enthused, “The camp was a great way to kick off the new year. We were able to see how far we have come and formulate a plan to get where we need to be. I am pushing myself to be ready for Rio, but I also see how hard the staff at the CSI Calgary are working to make sure we are ready. It gives me a lot of confidence heading into the Games because even though wrestling is an individual sport, I have a whole team supporting me. The culture of excellence has been integral to my success both on and off the mat.”

    75-kilogram wrestler Erica Wiebe emphasizes the sentiments of Mian, noting, “Every year the team becomes more efficient at collaborating so that our performance on the mat becomes a direct result of the work that we put in on a daily basis. They really embody what it means to work as a cohesive team. I know I am in good hands.”

    A veteran of four Olympic Games, Coach Vierling is confident the kick-off camp was a success, saying, “I believe we have created outstanding practices in preparing our athletes for Olympic success. ‬‪Our team is young, keen, and ready to commit to the work ahead! ‬”‬‬‬

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

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