The Performance Training Centre (PTC) is a world-class sport training facility built in 2014 by sport visionaries who wanted to create a truly unique place to develop athletes. The centre is an athlete-centric gym and the training and equipment focuses on one concept – athlete development.
We provide every individual the opportunity to be “Better than yesterday”
We are a community of people that believe in hard work; not only when training but in life.
We believe everyone is an athlete
Everything we do supports training these athletes: the equipment, the daily training environment, the coaching staff, customer support and the programs and services
We directly train individuals, small groups and teams
We offer both public and athlete memberships for those looking to train in this type of environment and be around like-minded people
Our Philosophy; Performance by design, not chance
Here are some things you may not know we do:
Public strength and conditioning classes (included with our memberships) – “Train like an athlete”
Annual and monthly membership options
Junior Athlete Development programs (ages 9-12)
Athlete Development programs (ages 13-17)
Olympic lifting programs (ages 16+)
Adapted Strength and Conditioning programs
Sport specific training programs; hockey, football, rugby
Sport performance services including sport nutrition and mental performance coaching
WinSport’s Early Explorers program – an early childhood development program for children ages three to five – builds the physical and cognitive development of children in an engaging indoor and outdoor environment. The idea to create the program was inspired from WinSport’s legacy, which was formed by relentless, bold, and fearless individuals. The organization’s goal is to continue that legacy by creating the next generation of leaders – children who will make an impact and continue to inspire their community. The outdoor play component of our ECD program is complimented by the newly designed calm and nurturing indoor learning space in the Markin MacPhail Centre. Below is an example of a day in the life of a student written by WinSport Early Childhood educator Brittany Caldwell on Loose Parts and Outdoor Play.
This semester at Early Explores the children have been engaged with our loose part’s materials. While sheltering from the cold and warming up our fingers we are often drawn to making various play items from our collection of found and natural materials. One Thursday, one little boy wandered over to the carpet to begin building. He sat down and using a clothes pin, a craft stick, and a small wooden ring, he built a toy airplane. Puttering the airplane around, he drew the attention of several of his classmates. As more children joined he shared with his friend how he had created his new toy and began teaching all the children to build little airplanes of their own. Soon after, a game of airplane racers had erupted and the children were zooming around the class wielding there new creations with beaming smiles.
Loose parts by definition are: open-ended materials designed to ignite creativity, ingenuity and collaboration in children. When contrasted with traditional toys, loose parts provide more opportunity for deeper learner and more creative play. In the example of the children and their toy airplanes, by providing them with simple materials versus plastic airplanes, we were able to expand the moment to include more skills and an opportunity to express their creativity. The children practiced fine motor skills while building – they used communication and collaboration skills to teach each other the best methods for building, and they expanded there understanding of shape, line, and size by replicating airplanes in model form.
This play is not limited to indoor moments. We also often use loose parts on both small and large scales when playing outside. We forge men/ action figures out of sticks; we construct life size forts from logs and stumps, and we use loose parts to conducts experiments on how to slide the fastest. Most importantly, we use the loose parts to ignite a love of learning that extends beyond the walls of a classroom and into the outdoor world.
WinSport’s Early Explorers program is holding an open house so parents and children can explore the learning space and ask questions to facilitators. It takes place on February 20. Click here to register.
When Theresa Sanchez learned her son’s PeeWee hockey team was holding a scrimmage game between the parents and players following the season, she knew she wanted to play. The only problem was, she along with many of the other moms, had never played hockey.
But the mother of three exercised the advice she would give her kids and showed everyone it is never too late to learn a new sport.
“This was a big goal for me – to get somewhat good enough to play and stand my ground in a game of hockey,” says Sanchez.
She learned about WinSport’s Discover Hockey program, which runs 12 weeks and teaches basic hockey skills, including the rules of the game in a group setting. Sanchez said the program would prep her for her son’s game, but was also an opportunity to understand and appreciate a game her three sons were so passionate about.
“I got a bunch of the moms together and said, ‘let’s do a sport that our kids love so much and we’ll appreciate the sport even more,’ ” Sanchez says. “It’s also something active we can all do together and we’ll get to know each other even more. It was almost like a nice team builder for us moms.”
During the fall, Sanchez and a bunch of her ‘hockey mom’ counterparts suited up for the first time and hit the ice for the Discover Hockey program.
“Going on the ice for the first time was the biggest challenge because we were all different skill levels – some people had some hockey, skating or figure skating experience, where for others, it was one of their first times on skates.”
She said the instructors paid close attention to what each player wanted to get out of the program, so a lot of the instruction was tailored to individual goals. Sanchez also said despite being elite hockey players themselves, the coaches were patient with the group and took the time to demonstrate and re-demonstrate drills.
“The instructors were amazing because, being new, we all had different skill levels and they evaluated the group as a whole and actually asked us what each of us wanted to accomplish,” says Sanchez.
Similar to an actual hockey team, the group began to bond and the experience extended beyond the ice. Sanchez says she became friends with many of the participants, who often went for beverages following their on-ice lessons.
“I got to meet so many people – learn how to play hockey with them and know them personally,” she says. “It was interesting to hear how everyone just wanted to get something out of the program for themselves – it’s not all about their kids necessarily – it’s having a sense of being able to say ‘I’m able to do this.’ ”
And she did in fact do it. Sanchez says her hand-eye coordination and skating improved and she can now perform a ‘hockey stop.’ But most importantly, she played in her son’s parent-team scrimmage.
“It was so fun and I actually scored,” she explains. “My son said to me in a very delicate way that I wasn’t good, but I wasn’t that bad – so I’ll take that as a compliment!”
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!
If your child plays hockey or swims, most parents would agree the sport system is relatively easy to navigate as there is a defined system or path for parents to follow. The levels are progressive and instructors often refer you to the next level.
However, other sport systems are challenging. Skiing and snowboarding programming has no governing body that clearly defines the levels and progression.
Each resort sets the progression levels and does their best to build a progressive scale that outlines pre-requisites and the skills that your child will learn in each class.
WinSport creating a clearly defined path of progression for skiers and snowboarders
The LTAD is a sport framework that is designed to ensure children – beginning before puberty – do the right things at the right time in sport activities to develop a life-long love for sport and successfully participate at elite levels, if they choose to do so.
Snow School at WinSport is quite simple to understand. Our website displays the levels outlined by age. It indicates the skill set your child needs to have so you can place them in the appropriate level. If you need help, our guest services staff is available to guide you through this process. Even if your child is placed in the wrong level on the first day of lessons we will quickly place them in the appropriate group. The instructor will check off the prerequisite skills your child has achieved on their progression card which you will find attached to their jacket. At the end of your lessons, we encourage our instructors to connect with you and share with you the next steps for your child.
We would love to tell you that progression is linear and your child will move easily from one level to the next. However, that’s not always the case. Your child may need to repeat levels to ensue that they gain the appropriate level of mastery over specific skills. Our priority is twofold – ensuring that your child can navigate the terrain safely and that they have the confidence to perform specific skills.
As a parent your child has progressed through lessons and they love being on snow. Their skill set will certainly improve as they spend more time on snow. It is at this moment that parents seek out more information on what is next. They go online, talk to friends and try to find out how they get their children to the next level.
Progressing to the next level – WinSport Club programs
Parents who have grown up in the sport understand that the next step is either recreational or competitive club programs. Club programs are long-term, ranging between 11 weeks and season-long opportunities. They include multiple sessions per week and your child has a coach instead of an instructor. Our recreational club offerings are different than most clubs.
The first type of club is all-mountain. This is rooted in exposing your child to multiple disciplines (alpine & freestyle) so they can determine which discipline works best for them.
The second type of club is focused on one specific discipline.
How our clubs differentiate
WinSport clubs are different than other ski teams that you see across the province. Most of these groups are operated by volunteers and do have paid coaches. Our recreational club program is operated by the same leadership team that guides our snow school. We have them linked to ensure the progression and development is rooted in appropriate stages of the LTAD model. We work closely with both provincial and national sport organizations to ensure that we are incorporating the latest progression in each discipline so that your child is learning the latest skills. In addition, we have a training environment where your child can practice specific skills at a specific progressive level. We also search for opportunities to introduce your child to competitions.
The next step: Performance teams
As your child progresses through our system and have a passion and natural aptitude for a discipline, your recreational club coach will take the time to identify them to our performance coaches. Our performance coaches and administration team will have a discussion with you and your child to determine if they would like to move to a competitive level club. If there is an interest and fit, an invite will be extended to your child to join one of these teams.
The performance teams are where we develop the next generation of Olympians. These are year-round programs where your child will take part in dryland training, international training and participate in high-level competitions. We are proud to have had more than two dozen athletes and coaches graduate from the performance teams to national programs.
Our most successful recent graduate, Cassie Sharpe, had an exceptional performance at the Games in PyeongChang, taking home gold in the half-pipe.
We are proud of the progressive LTAD-based system we have built at WinSport because of the foresight from the founders of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games.
Let us help you navigate your snow journey. Our team in Guest Services and snow sports are available to connect with you and answer any questions you may have.
We look forward to seeing you on the slopes this winter.
Fore more information, contact our Guest Services team at 403-247-5452 (ext. 4) or visit winsport.ca.
It may sound cliché, but if you ask any child what they think about gaga ball, they will literally go ‘gaga’ over it.
“They actually chant and cheer when we go play gaga ball – it’s probably the one activity they look forward to most at camp,” says Kyler Tritter, a Team Lead for WinSport’s summer camps. “They really cheer during the game while playing and then cheer on their friends when they’re eliminated from the game.”
Gaga ball is best described as a simple form of dodgeball played in a partially enclosed octagonal pit that contains short walls, so the ball stays in play. Participants have to strike the soft ball with their hand to hit opponents. If a participant is hit with the ball below the waist, they are eliminated from the game and leave the pit. Due to the enclosed space, it’s an intense, fun and fast game.
“It’s a good game for all skill levels and it’s fast paced, so the games usually last two or three minutes which gives the kids a lot of opportunity to play,” Tritter says. “If they are eliminated quickly, they’re right back in playing another game in only a few minutes.”
According to Sport Resources Group, gaga ball originated in Israel and was popular in Jewish camps and community centres in the 1970s. Recently, it has quickly grown in popularity in North America and is in use at camps and schools.
WinSport incorporated the game into summer camps last year using makeshift gaga ball pits. With it being such a hit with the kids, the organization purchased official pits this year.
Tritter says despite the game’s simplicity, it supports a component of the organization’s sport philosophy which focuses around teaching kids how to lose.
“It’s important to learn how to lose – and in gaga ball, even if you do lose there’s a lot of opportunity to try again and do better,” Tritter says. “That’s one of the things we want to achieve in our camps – to build resiliency so that the kids know if they lose, it’s not a big deal and they just need to do something different next time.”
Gaga ball also aligns with WinSport’s use of Teaching Games For Understanding (TGFU), which is a way of teaching kids sport-related skills through playing simple games that later get more complex and become more strategic. Read all about it here.
“The kids are working on a lot of fundamental skills – striking, dodging and other tactics,” says Tritter adding that these same skills are used in sports such as soccer, hockey and lacrosse. “It’s really fun to watch as well when you’ve been eliminated because you can pick up on other peoples’ tactics. The kids can also can create their own strategies. We’re not telling them the strategies – they are learning on their own which is much more impactful.”
Gaga ball also separates itself from other sports in that it is more inclusive and puts everybody on an even playing field.
“You don’t have those kids dominating as you see in lacrosse, soccer and ball hockey where you get a couple of kids with previous knowledge and tend to dominate the game,” Tritter says. “Gaga ball is more of an open playing field where to large degree everyone can be competitive and have fun.”
The acronym TGFU is not something you say to somebody, it’s rather something that kids do at WinSport that helps them develop essential sport skills.
TGFU stands for Teaching Games for Understanding. Simply put, it’s a way of teaching kids sport-related skills through playing simple games that later get more complex and become more strategic. It’s essentially an indirect method for teaching skills and rules that kids will later apply to specific sports such as hockey, rugby and soccer.
“The biggest piece is that it makes the games fun and it teaches kids about rules and why they are in place, so they gain an appreciation and an understanding for them,” says Chris Lane, a Team Lead for WinSport’s summer camps. “It focuses on what to look for in certain situations, so they can make strategic decisions.”
TGFU always starts simple and progressively gets more complex, so kids learn strategy and tactics. For example, a game of tag may start with everybody being “it.” When a participant is tagged, they sit down. In a second game, the kids would be partnered and only that partner can tag the participant in order for them to be able to stand up and get back in the game. In the third game, teams of four are built, and only one participant can tag somebody back into the game, prompting a team to think about who should be tagged back in first.
“This is where we start building upon skills and tactics,” says Lane. “It develops a broad set of skills, it’s engaging, and kids learn the ‘why’ about a game.”
Lane says that once these tactics are developed, kids are inherently learning specific skills for sports.
“Think, for example, in a game of hockey how important positioning is,” Lane says. “The importance of positioning is taught when we play tag, along with other skills such as the importance of keeping your head up and how to get to an area as quickly as possible – which are key skills in hockey.”
Some other examples are playing net-wall basketball and gaga ball – both are trying to get a ball in a specific place and can be applied later to hockey, where it’s important to strategically aim the puck at a specific point in the net.
Lane says for TGFU to be successful, it’s important to talk with the kids to ensure they understand why certain rules were implemented into the games. He says it’s equally important to debrief the kids on the tactics they exercised.
“Between games and at the succession of the games, we pose questions to the group,” Lane explains. “How did the game change when we introduce a rule set? We really get them to understand the thought process.”
Lane says since TGFU integrates strategy and tactic into sport, success isn’t completely reliant on athleticism, so it puts everybody on an even playing field where they learn while having fun together.
As a venue from the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, WinSport summer camps offer kids a unique outdoor experience for their daily activities. But as we all know, Calgary’s summers can be hot and/or smoky because of wildfires.
That’s why we have a system in place to constantly monitor conditions, so we can act promptly to keep summer campers safe in a manner where they can still have fun participating in their activities.
When the temperature is in the 30C range, our instructors pay extra attention as to when the campers need a break in the shade or need to rehydrate. We also modify daily activities to include water. For example, we’ll often run a sprinkler while the campers run around playing an activity.
Other ways we keep your child safe in the heat:
We have sun screen on-site at all camps
We take breaks in the shade and/or inside air-conditioned buildings
We encourage campers to drink water frequently
Mist stations are set up in the Husky Gardens so all summer camp participants have access
We provide hats to Sport and Adventure campers
When it comes to smoke, we are constantly monitoring air quality and take action accordingly, which include: potentially moving outdoor activities inside, taking additional breaks inside, reducing intensity of activities.
Lastly, we also monitor lightning and move all activities indoor when lightning activity is in the area.
From pretty much the moment you drop off your child at WinSport for summer camp, they’ll be moving, being active and learning life skills.
And the correct fuel is so essential for optimal learning – both physically and mentally.
Kyler Tritter is a Team Lead for summer camps and says nutrition is a key component to having a good day at summer camp.
“When you have a nutritious meal, instead of hot dogs and popsicles, you’ll see fewer breakdowns with the younger kids and the older kids feel less lethargic or tired,” Tritter explains. “What they eat is the fuel for your body which is another aspect we try to teach them. What you put into your body is what your body uses. You can feel better and perform better when you have the right food.”
As an organization that teaches sport to all ages – from toddlers in how to skate lessons to Canadian Olympians training to reach the podium – it’s understandable that WinSport strives to provide the type of food for people to reach their goals. It’s something WinSport’s executive chef Liana Robberecht has been focusing on during the last few years.
“We started focusing more on healthier food about three years ago, beginning with our offerings in the Garden Café,” says Robberecht. “WinSport caters to athletes at all stages of their journey, so it is important to have the proper fuel. We achieve this by implementing variety of options in the grab-and- go sections, salad bar and through daily specials.”
Robberecht says it was equally important to strategize meals for summer camp participants.
“We then took a more serious look at what options are we giving the children that participate in summer camp, we wanted to work with our camp instructors more closely to be able provide good food,” says Robberecht.
Tritter says the nutritious food has had a positive effect.
“Every day there is always one item of the food groups – there’s always a protein, a whole grain and fruit and vegetables,” says Tritter. “It is really good – the food looks a lot more enjoyable, it’s not hot dogs and popsicles – it’s actually food that will provide kids the correct fuel for the day.”
Some examples of the meals prepared for summer camp participants include baked gluten-free chicken fingers, house-made chicken meatballs, house-made turkey sliders, watermelon and vegetable sticks.
WinSport isn’t just providing nutritious food for campers, instructors are teaching them how to eat right. Tritter says some of the camps get the kids to build meal plans specific to their sport.
“For athletic development camps in rugby and soccer, the kids create nutrition goal setting to help them become a well-rounded athlete,” says Tritter. “We introduce them to the different food groups and how much they should eat in each. We also teach them about alternatives to meat and alternatives to dairy. The older groups (age 10-14) make a game-day meal, which includes what they would eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks and a plan to keep hydrated during day.”
Robberecht says her team will continue to work with camp instructors to learn more about their nutritional requirements for summer camp activities so kids not only enjoy the meals but have the appropriate fuel for their daily activities.
You may or may not have heard the phrase Long Term Athlete Development, also commonly referred to by its acronym, LTAD. If you’re a parent and haven’t heard the term, you’ll certainly want to know what it means.
Simply put, it is a sport framework that is designed to ensure children – beginning before puberty – do the right things at the right time in sport activities to develop a life-long love for sport and successfully participate at elite levels, if they choose to do so.
“Sport never had a K to 12 model as our education system does, so the LTAD is just that,” explains Jennifer Konopaki, Director, Sport Leadership, at WinSport. “LTAD provides a framework for coaches, trainers and educators at all levels on how to appropriately structure their programs and practices so it is optimal, developmentally. It’s detailed for every age and gender. For example, it outlines what girls need opposed to boys – it’s really Canada’s food guide for sport.”
So where did this LTAD framework come from? It started in 2002, when the Canadian Federal, Provincial and Territorial (F-P/T) Ministers adopted the Canadian Sport Policy, which was a commitment to enhance participation, excellence, capacity and interaction in Canadian sport. The policy had a vision of ‘A dynamic and leading-edge sport environment that enables all Canadians to experience and enjoy involvement in sport to the extent of their abilities and interests and, for increasing numbers, to perform consistently and successfully at the highest competitive levels.” (Canadian Sport Policy, 2002).
Since then, sport organizations have been adopting the LTAD framework into their programming and it’s something WinSport is also proud to integrate into all its programming supported by its mission: “to provide opportunities for Canadians to discover, develop and excel at sport through world-class training, facilities and exceptional experiences.”
“The incredible thing at WinSport is we have the entire framework in action,” says Konopaki.
LTAD in WinSport programming
Take for example WinSport’s ski and snowboarding programs, where children can start as early as three years old. Because all programs are based on the LTAD framework, the child begins being comfortable on snow and as they age, they’re introduced to programs to refine the skills they have learned in multi-disciplined programs. Eventually, if they wish, they’re then encouraged to move on to WinSport’s developmental teams. From there, they can then learn in a high-performance environment where many athletes can move on to provincial and national teams.
A key component of the LTAD framework is to develop fundamental movement skills (FMS) for children at an appropriate age, which then sets them up for success for the rest of their lives. FMS are simple skills opposed to those learned for specific sports. Examples of fundamental movement skills include throwing, catching, kicking, running and exercises to improve flexibility and movement.
“If you have a three-year-old and all they do is play hockey, they are very specialized, but they don’t have those fundamental sport skills that carry them through life,” Konopaki explains. “What happens after hockey? Will they be able and willing to play soccer, or participate in a corporate baseball tournament or whatever else their life is going to bring? It is so essential that these fundamental skills are developed in the optimal window so they learn these skills that will help them down the road.”
As noted on Sport for Life’s website: “Encouraging children to enjoy moving and promoting confidence in movement skills at an early age helps to ensure later participation in physical activity.”
LTAD giving parents confidence
Parents spend a lot of time and money helping introduce their kids to sport so they have fun and lead a healthy life. Konopaki says the LTAD framework gives parents the assurance that their child is receiving the most appropriate training and instruction that will lead to both their enjoyment and success in sport and physical activity.
“It provides quality assurance and confidence to you as a parent that the programming is appropriate based on your child’s needs,” says Konopaki.
She also says the LTAD framework gives coaches the guidance as to when children should begin to specialize in a particular sport, which was a major flaw in programming prior to the LTAD framework.
“We tend to specialize at a young age in Canada, which makes children one dimensional and more prone to injury,” says Konopaki. “So you end up with a hockey player opposed to an athlete that plays hockey. It’s important to read up on it as a parent – when you’re engaged with a local baseball organization for example, you can see if the age and coaching is appropriate based on the established research and science.”
For any new policy or guideline, there has to be influential people or organizations to champion the initiative. That’s where Sport for Life comes into play. It’s an organization that promotes developing physical literacy and improving the quality of sport programs based on long-term athlete development (LTAD) principles. Starting in 2005, the organization evolved into a movement led by a network of experts and champions working across sport, recreation, education and health, from community to national levels.
David Legg, a member of the Canadian Sport for Life Leadership team in the mid-2000s helped write the LTAD for athletes with a disability, known as No Accidental Champions. Legg notes that among other benefits “the LTAD framework helps identify what ages children should be introduced to specific training programs.” Legg also explains that another benefit from a multi-sport approach is helping lower the incidence of injuries due to overuse.
These are a few of the benefits from using the LTAD framework and a commitment to physical literacy and a multi-sport approach. Now, large organizations such as WinSport, to community parent volunteer coaches have a plethora of resources specific to their sport and age of participants in which they design programs and coach under an LTAD framework. It’s all located here: http://sportforlife.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/LTAD-2.1-EN_web.pdf?x96000