2018 SPIN Summit

Once again CSI Calgary is sending a strong contingent to the upcoming SPort INnovation (SPIN) Summit, hosted every year by Own the Podium (OTP) in a different Canadian city, this year in Montreal.

The SPIN Summit is Canada's leading-edge symposium for professional development and networking in the areas of applied sport science, sports medicine, and innovation. This annual conference combines experts from around the globe to build knowledge and tools, for future Olympic and Paralympic sport success through technological and scientific research.

The energetic, cutting edge conference will include one full day of applied workshops at the Institut National du Sport du Québec, providing hands-on performance enhancement opportunities in their facility. Building off these workshops, the second day will be dedicated to plenary sessions, alongside a variety of poster displays, culminating into the Dr. Gord Sleivert Young Investigator Awards.

Dr. Erik Groves, Research and Innovation Lead at CSI Calgary, says that the conference provides an opportunity for Canada’s best and brightest to collectively advance the sport science that supports Canada’s top athletes. “SPIN brings together Canadian experts who all work in amateur sport across the country,” says Groves. “It’s a chance to network, share, learn and foster relationships within the sport community.”

CSI Calgary is well represented at this year’s conference, with the presentation of findings from numerous, ongoing research projects. CSI Calgary staff will present findings in the areas of concussion, ACL reconstruction and return to sport protocols in alpine skiing, among others.

Nathaniel Morris, a graduate student at the University of Calgary and research intern at CSI Calgary, is short-listed as one of the finalists for the Dr. Gord Sleivert Young Investigator’s Awards. The awards are presented each year to the top three graduate students whose research addresses an athlete performance gap relevant to high performance sport.

Morris’ research is focused on recovery from ACL reconstruction surgery, specifically looking at the size of the hamstring muscle (which is used to reconstruct the ACL of the injured knee) post-surgery, relative to the healthy leg. The goal is to understand the impact that the size of this muscle has on the recovery period, and to provide a more objective measurement of the recovery process.

Groves, and colleague Graeme Challis, Exercise Specialist at CSI Calgary, are presenting their research on the communication of complex training and monitoring information to coaches. “It’s a pretty complicated environment,” explains Groves. “We’re looking at how to simplify the communication of this information without ignoring its inherent complexity.”

Andrew Smit, a graduate student and CSI Calgary research intern, will be presenting his research focused on the differences in physiological determinants of successful and unsuccessful athletes in long track speed skating. The goal of Smit’s research is to help Speed Skating Canada develop a better understanding of the athlete development pathway by using more objective steps in identifying what factors lead to success.

All of these projects represent CSI Calgary’s ongoing efforts to improve athlete performance through applied research and innovation. The 13th annual SPIN Summit will be held October 31st to November 2nd, 2018 in Montreal, Quebec.

Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
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 www.mygameplan.ca, in Calgary contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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

Maximizing Weight Cutting Strategy to Enhance Performance

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

Optimiser la stratégie de perte de poids avant une compétition pour améliorer la performance

Kelly Drager, diététiste en nutrition sportive à l’Institut canadien du sport de Calgary (ICS de Calgary), fait ses preuves grâce à un projet novateur auprès des membres de l’équipe canadienne de lutte. Le projet a été financé par Innovations pour l’or, un programme de recherche appliquée dans le sport dirigé par À nous le podium.

Kelly et Mac Read, entraîneur de musculation et de conditionnement physique de l’ICS de Calgary, en collaboration avec Erik Groves, gérant de la Recherche et de l’Innovation, ont recueilli des renseignements afin de trouver la façon idéale pour les lutteurs de perdre du poids avant la pesée pré-compétition, tout en réduisant au minimum les incidences sur leur performance. Les données recueillies jusqu’à présent proviennent de trois compétitions différentes (Championnats panaméricains, Jeux panaméricains et championnats mondiaux) et, selon Kelly, elles pourraient avoir des répercussions importantes sur la performance et permettre « une avancée dans le sport ».

Leurs recherches visent à donner aux athlètes un plan de performance plus précis pour perdre du poids avant une compétition. Cela pourrait réduire le stress associé aux pesées et, par conséquent, permettre aux athlètes de se concentrer davantage sur leur performance. Au sujet des résultats, Kelly affirme : « Nous commençons à observer des tendances dans les catégories de poids. Il est avantageux d’avoir des données pour chaque catégorie de poids, cela permet d’élaborer des lignes directrices propres à chacune. »

L’équipe a documenté le poids et la gravité spécifique de l’urine (degré d’hydratation) des athlètes durant la période de perte de poids pré-compétition. Les données montrent la façon dont les athlètes récupèrent entre la pesée et le moment de la compétition. Ces courbes de perte et de prise de poids peuvent aider les athlètes à élaborer des plans uniformes et prévisibles lors d’événements importants. Mac et Kelly étudient actuellement ce qui se passe durant l’entraînement habituel. En surveillant le rythme cardiaque, le taux d’effort perçu, le poids et la gravité spécifique de l’urine des athlètes, ils sont en mesure de déterminer ce qui est normal durant les semaines d’entraînement.

Ce projet est particulièrement emballant, car, comme le dit Kelly : « Il est possible d’appliquer les résultats aux catégories de poids d’autres sports, comme le judo. Notre objectif est de préparer les athlètes afin qu’ils puissent offrir une meilleure performance. »

À long terme, ce projet pourra également aider les athlètes en voie de perfectionnement à reconnaître que le but principal du sport est la performance, et non la perte de poids avant une compétition. Kelly veut également promouvoir « une meilleure santé, une meilleure croissance et un meilleur développement des os » chez les jeunes athlètes.

Ultimement, ces données aideront les meilleurs lutteurs au Canada à offrir de meilleures performances au niveau international. Kelly insiste toutefois sur le fait très important qu’elles « contribueront à assurer un meilleur développement et une meilleure santé pour les athlètes ».

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

Sommet SPIN 2018

Une fois de plus, l’ICS Calgary envoi de nombreux représentants au prochain Sommet du Sport et de l’Innovation (SPIN), qui est organisé tous les ans par À nous le podium (ANP) dans une ville canadienne différente. Il se déroulera à Montréal cette année.

Le Sommet SPIN est le symposium canadien d’avant-garde de perfectionnement et de réseautage des professionnels dans les sphères des sciences appliquées du sport, de la médecine du sport et de l’innovation. Ce congrès annuel rassemble des experts internationaux pour renforcer les connaissances et créer des outils en vue de favoriser la réussite dans le domaine des sports olympiques et paralympiques grâce à des recherches technologiques et scientifiques.

Ce congrès dynamique à la fine pointe de la technologie comprendra une journée complète d’ateliers pratiques qui offriront des occasions concrètes d’améliorer la performance dans les installations de l’Institut national du sport du Québec. Tirant parti de ces ateliers, la deuxième journée sera consacrée à des séances plénières agrémentées d’une série d’expositions d’affiches et se conclura par la remise des prix « Les Jeunes Chercheurs Dr Gord Sleivert ».

Pour M. Erik Groves, Ph. D., directeur de la Recherche et de l’Innovation de l’ICS Calgary, ce congrès offre une occasion aux plus grands experts du Canada de se réunir pour faire progresser les sciences du sport qui soutiennent les meilleurs athlètes canadiens. « Le Sommet SPIN rassemble des experts canadiens qui travaillent tous dans un sport amateur au pays, affirme M. Groves. Il s’agit d’une occasion de réseauter, de partager, d’apprendre et d’entretenir des relations au sein de la communauté sportive. »

L’ICS Calgary est bien représenté au congrès de cette année, avec la présentation des résultats de nombreux projets de recherche en cours. Le personnel de l’ICS Calgary présentera des résultats pour différents domaines de recherche, notamment les commotions, la reconstruction du ligament croisé antérieur et les protocoles de retour au sport en ski alpin.

Nathaniel Morris, étudiant diplômé de l’Université de Calgary et stagiaire en recherche à l’ICS Calgary, a été présélectionné parmi les finalistes des prix « Les Jeunes Chercheurs Dr Gord Sleivert ». Ces prix sont remis chaque année aux trois meilleurs étudiants diplômés dont les recherches abordent des écarts de performance chez les athlètes qui sont pertinents pour les sports de haut niveau.

Les recherches de M. Morris sont axées sur la récupération après une chirurgie de reconstruction du ligament croisé antérieur. Il évalue plus précisément la taille du muscle ischiojambier (qui est utilisé pour reconstruire le ligament croisé antérieur du genou blessé) après la chirurgie par rapport à celui de la jambe non opérée. L’objectif est de comprendre les répercussions de la taille de ce muscle sur la période de récupération et de fournir une mesure plus objective du processus de récupération.

M. Groves et son collègue Graeme Challis, spécialiste en exercices de l’ICS Calgary, présenteront leurs recherches sur la communication de données complexes d’entraînement et de suivi aux entraîneurs. « Il s’agit d’un environnement plutôt complexe, explique M. Groves. Nous cherchons des moyens de simplifier la communication de ces données sans toutefois ignorer leur complexité inhérente. »

Andrew Smit, étudiant diplômé et stagiaire en recherche à l’ICS Calgary, présentera ses recherches axées sur les différences entre les éléments physiologiques déterminants chez les athlètes couronnés ou non de succès en patinage de vitesse sur longue piste. L’objectif des recherches de M. Smit est d’aider l’équipe Patinage de vitesse Canada à acquérir une meilleure compréhension du parcours de perfectionnement des athlètes grâce à des étapes plus objectives servant à déterminer les facteurs qui mènent au succès.

Tous ces projets représentent les efforts continus de l’ICS Calgary pour améliorer les performances des athlètes au moyen de recherches et d’innovations appliquées. Le 13e Sommet SPIN annuel se tiendra du 31 octobre au 2 novembre 2018 à Montréal.

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

We’re All In This Together

Gluten-free, detox and cleansing diets, K-tape, cupping, homeopathic vaccines, cryotherapy, IV therapy – sound familiar? These are but a few of the plethora of popular, yet completely baseless, health and sport trends that currently pervade popular culture. So says scientist, author, speaker and debunker of pseudoscientific health claims, Dr. Timothy Caulfield.

As keynote speaker at the 11th annual Own the Podium SPort INnovation (SPIN) Summit, Caufield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy and Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, highlighted the danger that accepting health practices based entirely on pseudo science can have on society, as well as athletes and the sport community at large.

“There is an incredible amount of bunk and pseudoscience out there, which makes it incredibly difficult for people to access the real science,” explains Caulfield. He says there is a tolerance for pseudo science across all sectors of health, which has led to an erosion of critical thinking.

The message was strong and pointed – be careful. Dr. Jon Kolb, Director of Sport Science, Medicine and Innovation at Own the Podium, who invited Caulfield to speak at this year’s summit says, “The message that Caufield delivered is that athletes, coaches and managers need to recognize and be very careful about what is brought into their programs.”

For more than 250 of Canada’s top sport scientists, researchers, medical professionals, executives and coaches attending the summit, it was a message that strongly supports a philosophy which underscores the work they do – making decisions based on sound evidence. The CSI Calgary was a major contributor to the SPIN Summit, providing a number of in-house expert speakers.

The focus on evidence can be challenging when there is a need to blend the art of coaching with the science of sport. For Dr. Erik Groves, Research and Innovation Lead at the CSI Calgary, one key takeaway from the conference came from a presentation by Mike MacSween, Executive VP of Major Projects at Suncor.

“The simplest way to approach differing opinions and areas of expertise is to centralize on facts,” said MacSween. “Once that is accomplished it is much easier for people to come together.”

This opens the door for true collaboration, another theme that has come to characterize SPIN and the way in which the Canadian sport community works together. For Groves, the goal of SPIN is to share. “It’s about raising the bar, raising expectations and being open to collaboration,” he says. “We’re all in this together.”

Frank Van den Berg, CSI Calgary Director of Mental Performance agrees. “We share with each other what we are working on” he says. “It’s also an opportunity to foster critical thinking and discussion – we don’t only have to share our successes but our challenges too.”

“We’re much better collaborating than not,” adds Kolb. He says that it’s an opportunistic time in Canadian sport, with so many good things going on and emphasizes that collaboration is a big part of that.

Ultimately, the conference helps to bring together the Canadian sport community for the advancement of sport. “It’s a responsibility within high performance sport, which is a niche on it’s own,” says Kolb. “We will only grow if we grow as a sport science community together.”

Trust science, work together and reap the rewards. The evidence is conclusive!

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

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