Cycling Centre Calgary: The Pathway to the Top

Do you want to train and develop as a cyclist? You can do that at the Cycling Centre Calgary (CCC).

The CCC, run by the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary), has programs for cyclists of all ages and abilities in road, track, cyclocross, mountain and para cycling. Based out of the Olympic Oval at the University of Calgary, the CCC takes athletes through a four-stage pathway: Development, Link, Performance, and High Performance.

The Development stage targets young athletes who do not have racing experience. These athletes begin training three times weekly working towards the Link stage, which aims to fast-track athletes to the Performance level through a more intense training schedule of five days per week.

Once athletes have progressed to the Performance and High Performance stages, the CSI Calgary’s team of sport scientists begin to put athletes through testing and data monitoring.

The specialists work closely with the CCC’s head coach, Philippe Abbott, to provide the athletes with specialized training programs that target their individual goals. Abbott gained his experienced racing professionally on the North American circuit and is also the Alberta provincial cycling coach.

The CCC has cyclists training in all stages of the pathway, giving newcomers the added benefit of interacting with veterans like Kris Dahl. Dahl, an idol to many CCC athletes, coaches the Link group when he is not away competing at big events such as the Tour of Alberta.

The CCC is also home to Liah Harvie and Gabby Traxler, who recently represented Canada in the junior categories at the 2015 UCI Road World Championships. This career stepping-stone will hopefully lead them to success at the senior level, such as that experienced by their predecessors Allison Beveridge and Kirsti Lay.

Beveridge and Lay are key members of Canada’s track pursuit team that won bronze at the World Track Cycling Championship in February and won gold at the 2015 PanAm Games. Beveridge began as a development athlete at the CCC and has diligently worked her way through the pathway. Her progress has culminated in a second world bronze medal in the Scratch Race.

Kirsty Lay, a former speed skater, was fast-tracked along the CCC pathway after being identified as having potential through the CSI Calgary’s Talent Lab. Lay received close monitoring and testing through the CSI Calgary so that Abbott could have extra insight while writing her program.

The CCC is building on its success and hopes to recruit new cyclists who can emulate the success of Harvey, Traxler, Dahl, Beveridge and Lay. To become a member and start down the pathway of your cycling career, visit to register. All potential athletes are offered a free one-month trial, so be sure to come out and give cycling a try!

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

It’s a Human Thing

Despite the often accepted notion that athletes are tough as nails and can weather any storm that comes their way, the reality is that athletes can struggle with mental illness too. One in five Canadians suffer from depression, anxiety, substance abuse or other mental health disorders and only one third of those who need mental health services actually receive them. This alarming statistic is the same for athletes: mental illness is as common in athletes as in the general population.

The truth is no one is immune to mental health disorders, including the best performing athletes. It is clearly acknowledged that athletes tend to experience circumstances, pressures and expectations that are very different from non-athletes, which can result in a tendency to minimize signs of weakness and an expectation to push through certain challenges.

Sport subjects a person to a unique set of challenges and circumstances that, at times, negatively impact their mood and functioning. Additionally, there may be subgroups of athletes at elevated risk of mental illness, including those in the retirement phase of their careers, or those experiencing performance failure.

Recently, CSI Calgary staff and sport service providers had the opportunity to learn more about mental health issues and their role as stewards for the athletes they work with. The seminar, hosted by Game Plan Partner, Morneau Shepell – a human resources consulting and technology company that provides employee assistance, health, benefits, and retirement needs – served to educate staff about mental illness, how to recognize warning signs in athletes and what they can do about it.

Through the partnership with Morneau Shepell, Game Plan athletes can access a range of mental health support services. The goal is for staff and service providers to support athletes who may be suffering with mental health issues by building a bridge to professional help.

One of the key messages shared at the seminar was that mental illness is not a sign of weakness and should be taken as seriously as a physical injury. Jay Keddy, Canadian Women’s Alpine Skiing Assistant Coach, says that he is used to dealing with physical injuries in his sport but realizes that mental illness is part of the game too. “This program can help us deal with issues quickly and better than we could on our own. There is some confidence that comes with knowing that this support is available,” says Keddy.

The seminar also served to outline the symptoms of various mental illnesses, such as major depressive disorder, which can help sport service providers recognize warning signs that an athlete may be struggling beyond the day-to-day pressures of the athlete environment. Keddy adds, “Sometimes there are bigger issues than you can deal with in the sport world. It’s not always a sport psych issue, it could be depression or childhood trauma, which is more difficult to address.”

When mental health issues appear there is potentially an immediate impact to performance, but the greater concern is that mental illness will impact the athlete’s life beyond sport. For CSI Calgary Para Medical Lead, Shayne Hutchins, it goes beyond the sport experience. If an athlete shares something with him that causes concern, he will address it with great care. “For me, all of a sudden it’s a human thing, it has nothing to do with sport anymore. It’s about helping the person with their life and what they’re dealing with,” he says.

Tanya Dubnicoff is the Cycling Centre Calgary Athlete Development Lead, a World Champion, World Record Holder and three-time Olympian in track cycling. She remembers reaching out for help during a rough patch in her career. Now as a coach she recognizes the responsibility to care for her athletes and not only focus on training and performance.

Ultimately Dubnicoff says it’s okay to verbalize that something is not feeling right. “It’s the grey area we don’t necessarily talk about,” she says. “We all know to ask ‘how are you doing?’ but this is about caring for the athlete above and beyond their performance.”

Game Plan offers Canadian athletes access to services, resources and programs. Athletes and coaches are encouraged to contact their local Canadian Sport Institute to learn more about athlete eligibility requirements and services available under Game Plan. For more information visit, in Calgary contact Cette adresse courriel est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser..

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

L’ère du chronomètre prend fin

Le jadis tout puissant chronomètre, à son heure de gloire merveille technologique capable de mesurer et d’enregistrer le temps dans bon nombre d’usages, surtout le sport, est maintenant obsolète. Grâce à la conception d’un nouveau système de chronométrage à l’anneau olympique, les entraîneurs de patinage de vitesse munis de chronomètres lors des entraînements sont maintenant chose du passé.

Financé par l’anneau olympique et le programme Innovations pour l’or d’À nous le podium, le projet commun entre l’ICS Calgary et l’anneau olympique s’attaque à une lacune majeure sur la mesure de l’incidence de la façon de patiner d’un athlète sur son temps. Mettant à profit une technologie matérielle conçue pour la course automobile et un logiciel privé créé par John Little, spécialiste des TI de l’anneau olympique, le système mesure la performance d’un patineur sous toutes ses coutures.

« Par le passé, nous savions uniquement qu’un athlète était plus lent qu’un autre, mais pas toujours pourquoi, a déclaré Scott Maw, responsable des sciences du sport de l’ICS Calgary pour le patinage de vitesse. Le système de chronométrage nous permet d’établir à quel endroit de la piste le patineur perd du temps par rapport à un autre. »

Pendant l’entraînement, les patineurs portent une puce à chaque cheville, qui envoie un signal à une horloge maîtresse chaque fois qu’ils traversent un fil enfoncé dans la glace. Le système enregistre et calcule les temps et les vitesses de 16 portions de la piste, ce qui donne un portrait plus détaillé de la vitesse de patinage durant chaque tour.

Le système diffuse les données en temps réel aux entraîneurs et au personnel dans une interface sur tablette ou téléphone mobile entièrement personnalisable : temps de chaque tour, vitesse actuelle, position actuelle, indication du couloir dans le virage, durée de la série et temps total de l’entraînement. L’entraîneur peut afficher, sur un seul écran, les données de tous les athlètes actifs en même temps.

Pour l’entraîneur Crispin Parkinson, le nouveau système est une nette amélioration. « Je passe plus de temps à entraîner, plutôt que de devoir diriger l’entraînement, a-t-il mentionné. Je n’ai pas à prévoir le moment où chacun fait ses intervalles, donc je peux en faire davantage lors de chaque séance. Mon temps est mieux utilisé. »

Le Dr Erik Groves, directeur de la recherche et de l’innovation de l’ICS Calgary, est à l’origine du projet. Il souligne que d’après les données recueillies jusqu’à présent, l’utilisation actuelle du système n’est que la pointe de l’iceberg. « Un jour, nous serons en mesure d’analyser les données d’entraînement sur la distance parcourue, la répartition de la vitesse, les séries et les répétitions par jour, par semaine, par mois et par année, a-t-il expliqué. Nous pourrons aussi nous servir du système pour effectuer des tests physiologiques et analyser les courses. »

M. Parkinson indique que le système représente une nouvelle forme de communication des renseignements avec ses patineurs. « Un patineur pourrait ne pas comprendre ce que je lui explique sur son patinage. Les données viennent illustrer mes propos et informent l’athlète d’une autre manière qui pourrait lui sembler plus claire. »

Malheureusement, la triste fin du modeste chronomètre était inévitable; le monde du patinage de vitesse a tourné la page vers un avenir meilleur. « C’est un outil pratique qui m’aide énormément et me facilite la tâche, a ajouté Parkinson. Je passe moins de temps à gérer et plus à entraîner. »

Statistiques intéressantes de la saison 2016-2017

• Distance totale enregistrée parcourue par les patineurs : 92 551 km

• Segments où l’on a enregistré la vitesse : ~3 855 700

• Temps par tour le plus fréquent en secondes : 35-36

• Plus grande distance parcourue par un patineur en une journée : 51,6 km


Institut canadien du sport de calgary: @csicalgary
Rédigé par Kristina Groves: @kngrover
Photo crédit: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto

Mike Sametz set to Compete in Rio

The 2016 Paralympic Games are set to set to run from September 7-18 in Rio de Janiero. Over four thousand athletes from more than 160 countries will compete in 526 medal events in 22 sports. The Canadian Team is comprised of 155 athletes competing in 19 sports. One of those Canadians is a young, up and coming cyclist from Calgary, Mike Sametz.

Sametz trains at CSI Calgary with head coach of the Para-Cycling Program Phil Abbott. In addition to training, Sametz also pursues an education in business and kinesiology at the University of Calgary. In his final preparations for the Paralympic Games he also trained at the 2015 Pan Am Games venue for track cycling track in Milton, Ontario.

Sametz started cycling seven years ago when some friends of his parents told them about the para cycling program at the Calgary Olympic Oval. From the very beginning, Sametz, who has cerebral palsy on the right side of his body, was integrated with able-bodied cyclists and competes regularly in both able-bodied and Paralympic competitions. “He’s a model for integrating para and able bodies athletes, which in the past was not always the way things were done,” says Abbott.

Usually quiet and mild-mannered off the bike, Sametz is fiercely competitive once racing starts. “His personality on the bike is completely different,” observes Abbott. “He’s very shy except when he’s racing. He likes to win and to be the best but doesn’t like the attention. Nobody would guess he’s super competitive.”

Sametz himself keeps his competitive drive alive through setting big goals. “When I first started cycling, my goal was always to go to Rio,” he says. “I’m a very dedicated person and when I find a goal I want to achieve I’ll do everything I can to achieve it.”

At 20 years old, Sametz is the youngest member of the para cycling team heading to Rio to compete for Team Canada at the 2016 Paralympic Games. He’s also younger than most of his competitors, who tend to range from 30-40 years old. His age however, has not held him back – to date his major accomplishments include a silver medal in the Individual Pursuit at the 2015 Parapan Am Games and a bronze medal in the Individual Time Trial at a 2016 World Cup in Belgium.

According to Abbott, Sametz is well poised to reach the podium in two of his four events. “If all the stars align he could get third in the Individual Pursuit and third in the Individual Time Trial. He’s definitely within striking distance,” says Abbott.

Sametz is more modest in his predictions, preferring to focus on what he needs to do to perform well in Rio. “The last three months I noticed myself getting better,” he says. “I’m going to try and do my very best in all my races. My competitors are not new to me. They are the same guys I’ve raced against at World Cups and World Championships. I know where I’ve placed before and want to improve on those placings.”

CSI Calgary is proud to support Team Canada Para athletes. Other CSI Calgary supported athletes to watch: Jenn Brown and Alister McQueen in para athletics; Ross Wilson para cycling; Morgan Bird, para swimming; Stefan Daniel, para triathlon; Chad Jassman and Arinn Young, wheelchair basketball; Zak Madell, wheelchair rugby; and athletes from the women’s sitting volleyball team Angelena Dolezar, Leanne Muldrew, Jennifer Oakes, Shacarra Orr, Heidi Peters, Tessa Popoff, Amber Skyrpan, and Katelyn Wright.

The Opening Ceremonies for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games kick off at 4:30pm MST Wednesday September 7, 2016.

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

That Research Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Stopwatch bites the dust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting stats from 2016-2017 season:

• Total recorded kilometers skated: 92,551

• Velocity segments recorded: ~3,855,700

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

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


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

Un coureur du Centre de cyclisme de Calgary couronné champion national

Cycliste sur route professionnel et membre du Centre de cyclisme de Calgary (CCC) affilié à l’Institut canadien du sport de Calgary, Kristofer Dahl a fait une démonstration éclatante de son talent aux Championnats nationaux de cyclisme sur piste 2015, qui ont eu lieu au Centre de cyclisme national de Mattamy à Milton, en Ontario. Les championnats se sont tenus du 7 au 11 octobre 2015, un mois seulement après le Tour de l’Alberta auquel Kristofer a participé.

L’athlète avait amorcé sa carrière sur piste avant de se consacrer au cyclisme sur route. Afin d’évaluer son potentiel et de relever un défi, Kristofer a décidé de s’inscrire aux Championnats nationaux sur piste de cette année.

Il a été agréablement surpris par ses excellents résultats, terminant deuxième dans l’omnium et premier au contre-la-montre d’un kilomètre. Dans l’omnium, une épreuve olympique, Kristofer se mesurait aux membres actuels de l’équipe nationale et à des médaillés des Jeux panaméricains 2015, prouvant son statut de cycliste d’exception, autant sur piste que sur route. Ses performances lui vaudront assurément une invitation au camp d’entraînement de l’équipe nationale canadienne en novembre, où il recevra un entraînement spécialisé sur piste.

Perfectionniste dans toutes les sphères de sa vie, Kristofer connaît aussi du succès hors de la piste. Étudiant en génie à l’Université de Calgary, l’athlète de 23 ans parvient à concilier la vie sur les bancs d’école et sa carrière cycliste. De plus, Kristofer s’implique activement dans le programme du CCC, où il supervise l’entraînement de jeunes athlètes trois jours par semaine.

Cette implication est extrêmement importante aux yeux du cycliste : « J’étais le plus jeune du groupe quand j’ai commencé au CCC, et j’ai fait mon chemin. Maintenant que je suis un diplômé du programme, j’ai pris le relais. C’est une merveilleuse façon pour moi de redonner au CCC. Quand j’étais plus jeune, les cyclistes expérimentés me servaient de modèles; c’est très important pour moi de servir à mon tour d’exemple pour les plus jeunes. J’aime beaucoup leur montrer ce qu’ils peuvent accomplir, autant comme cycliste qu’en tant qu’entraîneur. »

Philippe Abbott, l’entraîneur de Kristofer et entraîneur-chef du CCC, souligne avec enthousiasme l’éthique de travail de son protégé : « Kris est un exemple fantastique pour tous les jeunes athlètes qui s’intègrent à notre programme. Il prouve qu’il est possible de concilier les études et l’entraînement et d’obtenir du succès en cyclisme. »

Bien que son emploi du temps soit particulièrement chargé, Kristofer veut obtenir son baccalauréat dans moins de deux ans afin de pouvoir se consacrer pleinement à sa carrière cycliste. « Mon objectif principal en cyclisme sur route est une carrière professionnelle. Sur piste, j’ai de bonnes chances de pouvoir participer aux Jeux olympiques. L’objectif ultime est donc Tokyo 2020. »

Institut canadien du sport de Calgary : @csicalgary

Rédigé par Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler

Photo de Dave Holland: @CSICalgaryPhoto

Copyright © 2013 Canadian Sport Institute Calgary | All Rights Reserved | Photo Credit : Dave Holland