Canadian Sport Institute Calgary’s Integrated Support Team Provides the Backbone to Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton

The Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton team kicked off their post-Olympic season last week with strong World Cup races in Lake Placid, New York. This week at Canada Olympic Park, the team will treat Calgarians to a display of their speed, size, and determination as World Cup #2 gets underway.

Adding to the already amazing event, Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSIC) athlete Kaillie Humphries will make history when she pilots a men's bobsleigh. Recently receiving the Lou Marsh Award naming her as Canada's best athlete for the past year, the two-time Olympic Gold Medallist is looking forward to showing her prowess on her home track as she breaks down gender barriers.

Behind the scenes, the CSIC is working hard to ensure that the bobsleigh and skeleton athletes continue to achieve and maintain world-leading performances through the use of elite staff members and consultants that have assembled into Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton's (BCS) Integrated Support Team (IST). The IST ensuring that the athletes are always functioning at one hundred percent consists of 8 sport medicine experts, including physicians, chiropractors, and massage therapists, 2 strength and conditioning trainers, a high performance dietitian, mental performance consultants, and a performance analyst. Although this may seem like a large group of support members, in a sport where medals are won and lost by thousandths of a second there can be no area left unattended. It is this philosophy that helps to guide the CSIC as it assembles IST for high performance athletes.

Head Coach Chris LeBihan notes that the IST has been vital to the success of BCS, saying, "The strength and conditioning team working for BCS at the CSIC's High Performance Training Centre, lead by Quin Sekulich, has been instrumental in elevating our bobsleigh and skeleton athletes' physical preparedness. Our athletes are not only achieving personal best performances, they are also achieving world leading performances. There is no doubt that the IST team and new facilities at the CSIC are world leading!"

One of the IST leaders, mental performance consultant Frank van den Berg, is adamant that the importance of teamwork and communication amongst the large IST is crucial to maintaining the function of the team. He notes that the planning and cooperation are always ongoing, saying, "in order to manage and facilitate a high-functioning interdisciplinary IST a comprehensive plan for off-season and in-season collaboration was developed and shared with all IST members, highlighting and explaining our shared philosophy, functioning, structure and strategies approach for support of bobsleigh and skeleton athletes. We're working explicitly towards our key objectives to make this IST work effectively and stay high-functioning: focus on common goals, ability and willingness to work together, effective decision-making, healthy professional relationships, and effective communication."

Be sure to catch Kaillie and all of the world's best bobsleigh and skeleton athletes competing this week at Canada Olympic Park! For more information, go to bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca

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

Alberta Slalom Canoe Kayak Team Benefits from World Leading Specialists

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."

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

Sport Science Solutions, Integrated Support Team, Game Plan, Clare Fewster, Exercise Physiology, Performance Services, Canadian Sport Institute Calgary Team, Mental Performance, Alberta Sport Development Centre, Canoe Kayak Canada, Michael Holroyd, Haley Daniels, Adrian Cole, Jessica Groenveld, Ben Hayward, Kelly Quipp, John Abreu

Biomechanics and Performance Analysis Give Athletes the Winning Edge

Although they have played a part in many athletes' careers, the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary's Biomechanics and Performance Analysis Team of Pro Stergiou and John Horton often do not get the credit they are due. Working behind the scenes to help athletes in summer, winter, and para sports shave precious hundredths and thousandths of seconds off of their times, Stergiou and Horton are experts in what they have labeled the "fine, fine details."

The skills and services of Stergiou and Horton cover a wide range of needs that are customized based on the goals of the teams that they are working with. For some groups, biomechanics assessments for athletes and coaches include the measurements of force, pressure, velocity, or muscular activation through various technologies. This was the case with Olympic Gold Medallist speed skater Lucas Makowsky, who worked with Horton using pressure sensors to determine where force was being applied within a new pair of skates. For other teams, performance analysis through simple video capture and reviewing in order to compare technique at competitions is their main requirement.

The most recent success story for the Biomechanics and Performance Analysis Team is the introduction of methods that they have created to help the National Luge Team improve their start technique. Using high-speed 3-dimensional motion analysis cameras combined with reflectors worn by the athletes, Stergiou and Horton have been able to analyze movements of the body that cannot be seen by the naked eye. In a sport where medals are won and lost by thousandths of a second, this is the type of project that can be the difference between an athlete's dreams of an Olympic medal being realized or standing just off of the podium.

Sport science services such as Biomechanics and Performance Analysis are always great in theory, but where the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary's team gains much of their world-leading edge is through their ability to find innovative ways to incorporate their work into situations that are applicable to the athletes' training and competitions as opposed to the protected environment of a laboratory. Team lead Pro Stergiou describes this concept as being "the main goal of our department. Our laboratory is the athletes' training environment and we must bring our techniques into their environment in order to collect and analyze data that is specific to the technique that they are trying to improve."

With the improvements that are constantly seen in the equipment and techniques of sports around the world, and the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary's athletes maintaining their positions on the podium year in and year out, it is clear that the Biomechanics and Performance Analysis Team of Pro Stergiou and John Horton are on the right track. They definitely have the data to prove it!

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

High Performance Dietitian Kelly Drager Educates the Experts

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."

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

Sport Science Solutions, Research and Innovation, Wrestling Canada, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, Nutrition, Own the Podium, Montreal Sports Innovation, Kelly Drager, SPIN

Canadian Sport Institute Calgary Leads By Example

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dale Henwood, Integrated Support Team, Game Plan, Education, Performance Services, NextGen, Athlete Resources


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