Ryan Sommer, one of the strength and conditioning coaches at WinSport’s Performance Training Centre (PTC), now has four more medals – three gold medals and a bronze – to put in his trophy case.
The first-year pilot/brakeman for Canada’s two-man bobsleigh team recently returned from his first North American Cup in Whistler, where he had the opportunity to slide with Olympic gold medallist Justin Kripps.
“Winning those medals early in the season was an amazing relief knowing that all of the work I put in this off-season was starting to pay off,” says Sommer. “I was dealing with some injuries right before the team Canada selection process, so to get through that six-week selection process, including physio testing, push testing and selection races, and then be able to come away with some medals at the first race series was pretty special.”
Like the sport, Sommer’s career took off fast and has involved a lot of twists and turns. After graduating from the University of Lethbridge in 2016, Ryan spent his first summer forest firefighting in B.C. After meeting somebody who told him about a bobsleigh recruitment camp in Vancouver, he decided to give the sport a try and drove from Peace River to Vancouver.
He then received an invitation to try out for the Alberta development team in Calgary and went on to compete in the full North American Cup circuit.
Following his first season, Ryan began training with WinSport PTC trainer Brett Walker. In 2017, Sommer had improved his push time by two-tenths of a second and joined the North American circuit for Canada’s development team. However, on the first stop he was involved in a serious crash which forced him to pull out of competition for the year.
He then rehabbed and trained for the next eight months and was selected to the national team.
When he’s not competing and training with the national team, Sommer is helping others reach their fitness goals as a trainer at the PTC. He says Walker and the rest of the PTC team has given him support to succeed.
“Just being immersed in the culture is great,” says Sommer. “People are always asking how you’re doing and taking an interest in what I’m doing.”
Sommer is now going to Germany for the European Cup and then back for the World Cup in January.
“The whole journey so far has been surreal for me, everything from selection races to being named to the World Cup team to winning our first set of races,” says Sommer. “It has been something I have working towards for a few years now and the first taste of success has definitely made me hungrier and is driving me to make an impact on the international level.”
Follow Ryan Sommer on Twitter @Ryansoms to keep up with his journey!