Monday, November 28, 2011

SAIT Slides into Sport Research

We often speak about the significance that participating in sport brings to improving our well-being   socially, mentally and spiritually.  But on the competition side, those involved in sport are also always looking for ways to improve their performance, which will range from the psychology and physiology of sport to improving the equipment used. These tools of the trade not only include moving the human body faster and higher, but also refining any equipment used to transport the body towards superior performances. Skates, pole vault poles, skis and running shoes are just a few examples of the type of apparatus utilized by athletes.

One institution that is taking a lead role in such design changes is the SAIT Polytechnic (Southern Institute of Applied Technology) in Calgary, Alberta, who has become involved in the development and modifications to sleds used for the winter sports of skeleton, luge and bobsleigh. Despite their relative inexperience in working in sport, the team under the direction of Principal Investigator Dr. Alex Zahavich, Director, ARIS-SAIT (Applied Research and Innovation Services), was initially commissioned by Bobsleigh Canada in 2006 to design skeleton sleds that would perform well at a reasonable cost, hopefully increasing participation in the sport. Long term goals were to develop high performance sleds for international competitions an area they have successfully moved in to.

The SAIT incremental strategy was to buy technology (i.e. equipment) from other countries and then reverse engineer their sleds. Also vital to the process was that the design team, including journeymen machinists and welders, had to actually slide their prototypes down a sliding course so that they fully understood the experience.  So extraordinary is their contribution to the sliding world, the advancements accomplished at SAIT, in conjunction with Canada’s Own the Podium (OTP), was featured by the Discovery Channel.

Using research and development to change equipment - construction design and materials - is one very essential tactic to keep competing athletes on the cutting edge, giving them an advantage on the world stage.

For more information on sports research and development, please visit SIRC.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Art of Waxing

Seeing as it’s the end of November, some areas of Canada have already seen snow, while others are one big snow storm away. If you are thinking of taking up cross country skiing, now is a good time to start thinking about preparing for the ski season before the trails are calling your name. As Cross Country Canada says, cross-country skiing is easy to learn and its benefits for health and wellness are unmatched.

If you walk into any ski shop, the sheer number of colourful wax tins may be enough to create some confusion. Getting your skis ready for the season does include the need to grasp the art of waxing but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. However, the sooner you learn that the type of wax you use on your skis can make or break your ski day, the better off you will be.

There are basically two types of ski wax: grip and glide. The grip wax goes on what is called the kick zone of classic cross-country skis, while glide wax goes on the rest of the classic ski, on the entire length of skate skis (as on downhill skis and snowboards). The selection of waxes is influenced by some or all of the following:
  • The outside temperature
  • Type of snow – new, dry, wet, old
  • The snow and air temperature
  • The relative humidity: high (over 75%), normal (55%-75%), low (below 55%)
  • The structure of the snow: old, coarse, icy, dirty, new or fine granule
  • The distance to be skied
  • The technique used: free (skating) or classical (diagonal stride)
There is no doubt that ski waxing is not a science, but an art. You’d be well advised to attend a ski waxing clinic or refer to the many ski waxing guides that are available to insure you get it right the first time you hit the trails.

For more information on cross country skiing, please visit SIRC.

Monday, November 21, 2011

When is it Right to Return to Play?

The comeback of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins began last night when he took to the ice for the first time since suffering a concussion against Tampa Bay on January 5.  Now the poster child for concussions, Crosby, recognized as the best player in the world, actually suffered two hits to the head just four days apart and went on to miss 61 regular season games and the playoffs. At times it takes a high profile all-star player like Crosby to bring the seriousness of a condition like concussions from the shadows and into the limelight, doing everyone a favour in the long run. The concussion education that has been gained over the past year has provided much needed awareness to athletes, coaches, administrators, parents, teachers, fans, media and sponsors.  SIRC's Concussion Resource page compiles  the latest and relevant resources on concussion in sport, where everything from research articles to assessment tools to youth videos can be found.

According to ThinkFirst and the Return to Play guidelines, there is an order of activities that the concussed patient must follow and be symptom-free before moving on to the next step. If symptoms re-occur, the patient must return to the previous stage until the symptoms are gone.
  1. No activity, only complete rest.
  2. Light aerobic exercise, such as walking or stationary cycling.
  3. Sport specific activities, such as skating, throwing, jumping, running, etc. can begin.
  4. Drills without body contact.
  5. Game play.

Anyone can suffer from a concussion on the ice rink, the playground, the basketball court or the ski hill. The same guidelines must be followed as it is very important to never return to play while still experiencing symptoms of a concussion. It is of vital importance that concussion management include cognitive and mental function, not just any physical demands, in order to achieve the proper recovery.

For more information on concussions and return to play guidelines, please read SIRC's
latest Newsletter on concussions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

University of Toronto Gets Green Light for New Sports Lab

The Faculty of Physical Education and Health at the University of Toronto has announced that the build is on for a dazzling new sports lab facility geared towards high performance sports science research. With inspiration and direction from the previous Dean of Physical Education and Olympian, Bruce Kidd, the The Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport will open its doors in 2014 in downtown Toronto, Ontario, just across from Varsity Stadium.

In 2006 Warren Goldring, a 1949 graduate of the University of Toronto, and his family gave an $11 million gift to establish the high performance research centre. The green light came in November 2011 when the province’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities contributed $22.5 million towards the construction. 

Under the direction of the new Dean Ira Jacobs, the centre is said to be the first facility in Canada to dedicate itself to the rudimentary science of elite athletics advancement. The vision behind Goldring is to c
reate synergies that bolster research in the areas of sport and exercise research, sport medicine, training and competition. A much needed resource to the University of Toronto and the province of Ontario, the Centre will house the necessary laboratories and testing equipment to analyze athletic performances and test scientific hypotheses. And with a name like "Goldring", there will no doubt be gold medal research and success that is produced to benefit athletic performance and sport in Canada.

For more information on sports science research, please contact

Multiple Intelligences for Learning Martial Arts

by Philippe-Aron Muma
Algonquin College Sport Management Student
SIRC Intern

Taijiquan or taiji is an excellent mind- body exercise that is practiced throughout the world. This Chinese art form incorporates several disciplines including; philosophy, medicine and martial arts. In order to learn taiji a student can utilize multiple intelligences: 
  • Logical and mathematical learners can breakdown sequences to solve numerical patterns. In taiji these “reasoning smart thinkers,” can link postures into small sequences, small sequences into sections and combine the sections into routines. 
  • Linguistic and verbal intelligence learners are “word smart” who excel and demonstrate strong speaking, writing, reading and listening skills. These students would learn by verbalizing the instructions step by step. 
  • Spatial or visual learners are ones that learn from seeing how it’s done. They are “picture smart,” such resources as pictures, diagrams charts and other visual media can assist in their training. 
  • Kinesthetic intelligence is a hands- on method to learning. Teachers can demonstrate by physically modeling the taiji principles through body language and structure. 
No matter what kind of learner an individual is, he or she may use any sort of intelligence to enjoy taiji. These learning principles also extend to all sports and activities. No matter what kind of learner an individual is, there are multiple ways to apply themselves to an activity.

Source from the SIRC Collection:
BROWN, D. (2011). Multiple Intelligences in the Process of learning Martial Arts Using Taijiquan as an Example. Journal of Asian Martial Arts. 20(2), 8-21

Thursday, November 10, 2011

SIRC Gets in the SPIN of Things

The 2011 SPIN (SPort INnovation) Summit is in its second day at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in downtown Toronto, Ontario. Canada’s greatest minds in sport science have come together for a conference focusing on premier applied sport science, sport medicine and research that services the high performance sport community.  Themes this year include bullet proofing the 2012 Olympic Games plan (London), solidifying the 2014 Olympic Winter Games strategy (Sochi) and other hot topics on research and innovation.

Amongst those sharing their knowledge are experts from the
Canadian Sport Centre system, Own the Podium (OTP) and health care practitioners who focus on optimizing athlete’s health. Opening the conference were presentations in athlete planning where Dr. David Smith, Director of Sport Science from the Canadian Sport Centre – Calgary, talked about “Preparing for the Podium” and how successful podium performance at the Olympic Games requires a foundation of reliable World Cup or World Championships performance in the years prior to the Olympic Games. He was followed by Rowing Canadas Peter Cookson and Terry Paul who gave examples on how appropriate and necessary changes in their preparations have led to success with the rowing team.

SIRC is joined by a select group of exhibitors at the SPIN Summit, including:
  • Fusion Sport
  • Normatec
  • Sports Tec
  • Sports Physiotherapy Canada
  • Coaches of Canada
  • Crim
  • Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada

The Summit, which closes on Thursday evening, will highlight best practices in performance on demand from competitive experiences at Olympic and Paralympic Games.

For more information on sport science, please contact SIRC.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Two Cities Vie for the Friendly Games in 2018

Logo credit:
Commonwealth Games
The host city of the 2018 Commonwealth Games will be announced by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) this Friday, November 11, 2011 at 6pm local time from Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis.  In the running are two cities, one on the Asian continent and the other on the Oceanic continent. The south coastal Sri Lankan city of Hambantota was devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami which was reported to have killed a large portion of the town's population.  Their bid for the 2018 Games is part of the major facelift for the city in developing Hambantota as a sports hub, having already hosted matches for the 2011 Cricket World Cup. The Australian east coastal city of Gold Coast, located 94km south of the Queensland state capital Brisbane, will be the fifth Australian city looking to host the Commonwealth Games. Australia hosted the Games four times previously, in 1938 (Sydney as British Empire Games), 1962 (Perth), 1982 (Brisbane) and 2006 (Melbourne).

Often referred to as the "Friendly Games," the first Commonwealth Games (then known as the British Empire Games) were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada with 400 athletes from 11 countries competing in six sports and 59 events.  Showing a tremendous growth in participation since those days in Hamilton, the 2010 Games in Delhi, India hosted 71 nations in 17 sports (272 events) for 4352 athletes. The 2014 Commonwealth Games will be held in the Scottish city of Glasgow.

Who will it be? Watch “
live” online when 71 member Commonwealth Games Associations (CGA’s) vote to announce if Hambantota or Gold Coast is the host city of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

For more information on the Commonwealth Games, please contact

Friday, November 4, 2011

Saving Face

The position of goaltender in the game of professional hockey is so specialized that no goalies play other positions, and likewise, no other players play goalie.  Because of the tremendous power of the shots of the puck towards the net, the goaltender wears special equipment designed to protect the body from direct impact. Goalies may use any part of their bodies to block shots, including their face and head. After receiving a seven-stitch laceration to the face in 1959, Jacques Plante of the Montreal Canadiens, was the first goaltender to employ the practical fiberglass mask to protect his face, and since then the goalie masks have evolved to the full fiberglass helmet and cage combination most popular today. However, while the National Hockey League (NHL) specifies maximum dimensions of goaltending equipment to prevent goalies from having an unfair advantage, there is no agreement on the standards for goalie masks, only for other player’s helmets.

Every goalie wants to have the advantage – they want to see better, have an improved range of motion, use lighter and better fitting equipment, and they are willing to wear below standard equipment in protecting their head in order to have those advantages. Concussions have dominated the hockey news for the past year, losing some of its top players to the sidelines. According to CBC TV Sports, $118 million worth of goalies were injured by shots off the mask in the past year.

The NHL and its General Managers want three things to insure proper protection for the goalies:
  1. an inability for sticks and pucks to get through holes in the cage
  2. evidence that the forehead/jaw of a mask can withstand the most extreme forces the game can bring
  3. a minimum of ½” foam inside the shell
While comfort is important, safety for the goalie should always come first.

For more information, contact SIRC.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Knowledge in Action!

November is a busy month in the world of sport information sharing and knowledge transfer. With a variety of conferences and summits on the calendar, SIRC will be present in the following locations:
  • Sport Canada Research Initiative Conference (SCRI) – Aylmer, Quebec (November 3, 2011)
  • SIRC hosts sport researchers, policy makers and practitioners sharing their knowledge and expertise with a vision to maximizing the practical applications of sport participation research and its potential contribution to sport participation policy in Canada.  

  • Sport Innovation Summit (SPIN) – Toronto, Ontario (November 8-10, 2011)
  • Be sure to drop by the SIRC Resource Centre booth and check out the latest issue of the High Performance SIRCuit. 

  • Petro Canada Sport Leadership Sportif Conference – Toronto, Ontario (November 10-12, 2011)
  • Debra Gassewitz, SIRC's president and CEO, will be presenting the Sport Management Stream Workshop 'Recruitment, Nominations and Orientation – How to attract and train sport leaders' on Saturday, November 12th.  

  • Canadian Sport Policy Renewal  
  • The discussion paper "Towards a Renewed Canadian Sport Policy" is now available along with other sport policy renewal resources on the SIRC website.
For more information on our resources for these events, please visit SIRC.