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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.

WinSport’s programs are designed with the Long Term Athlete Development framework.

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.”

History

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 LTDA 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

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WinSport has launched a new multi-faceted sport training program to help both developing and competitive athletes reach their full potential.

The Athlete Development Program was launched earlier this month. It is based on the Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) framework and scientifically driven performance strategy, where coaches provide the right training for each athlete, based on age and stage of growth and development.

“The rationale behind this program is to really match our mission, which is to provide opportunities for Canadians to discover, develop and excel at sport through world-class training, facilities and exceptional experiences,” explains Bernie Asbell, Vice-President of Sport Operations.

Fall and winter programs run over several weeks and are designated by LTAD stages: learn to train, train to train and train to compete.

Asbell says one of the unique aspects of the Athlete Development program is that it is run on WinSport’s world-class campus, offering an environment and facilities unlike any other in the city.

“We tap into all of our assets, so we’ll use our hill outside, the training floor and equipment in the Performance Training Centre and other indoor areas,” Asbell says. “Because of our unique training environment, it’s easy for athletes to get inspired and motivated to reach their training goals.”

The program also includes hockey-specific training for both during the season and in the off-season. For example, one program helps a player reach peak performance so they can be at their best during pre-season evaluations while carrying that momentum into the season.

“We really take a long-term perspective so not only will the athlete be ready for evaluations, they’ll be at peak performance all season and for the playoffs,” Asbell explains. “Our training involves both mental and physical conditioning where they learn how to prepare, condition and push themselves to really learn what they are capable of.”

For more information and for a full list of programs, click here.

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WinSport’s mountain bike trails are opened this summer with some new runs, obstacles and terrain. As Calgary’s only lift-accessible mountain bike hill, riders can complete a lot of runs in a day, which allows them to familiarize with a course and master timing and technique.

During the past few years we have added black features to blue trails and blue features to green trails which we realized caused some confusion to riders when looking at the maps. As a result, some of the changes this year included making the terrain true to trails skill designation from top to bottom, which was a recommendation from the company who built our trails back in 2007. We also looked at the overall hits and misses of all the trails and updated and changed them to best suit our riders. There have been some massive changes to some of our most popular trails, such as Safari Planet. But we’ve also added more green-level trails to make the hill more accessible to beginner and intermediate riders.

West Trees

Ian Newcombe, the Manager of Venues and Operations at WinSport, says Safari Planet is one of the most extensively updated trails.

Our most popular trail, Safari Planet, located in the West Trees, has been completely resurfaced to allow for a smoother ride.

“It was resurfaced top to bottom over a two-week period to make for a smooth and more controllable ride,” says Newcombe.  “We also redid the tables to make those areas smoother as well.”

Now the trail rides nicely, is flowy and offers some new line choices. Similarly, to Safari Planet, the Dragon Slayer trail was reconstructed to better suit our riders. Full of banks and bridges, this intermediate trail used to feature older obstacles. We removed them to create a fun, flowy trail for the true intermediate riders.

Our expert trail, Haircut Rabbit, features wood jumps and provides a rush of adrenaline for our more experienced riders.

“We wanted to make the trail more accessible to our intermediate riders,” says Newcombe. “You’ll see construction being done around mid-July and we hope to have it open shortly after that.”

Keep an eye out for the updated trail later in the season.

East Trees

The Green Tea trail used to be a green trail that transitioned to an intermediate level. But now, it can entirely green or transition to a more difficult trail, depending on rider preference.

“The Green Tea Trail connects with the more challenging Paskapoo Pass, but we have now added a trail at a fork for riders who want to keep riding on a green trail, ” says Newcombe.

Construction also continues for The Strawberry Shortcake trails, where crews are working towards making the transition from intermediate to expert a lot smoother.

“Once open, you can expect trails that give riders a chance to practice a bit before hitting the more difficult ones,” he says.

Skills Park

Our skills park is a major resource for beginner and intermediate riders with logs, wooden A frames, Ogopogos and more exciting features.

The Double Jeopardy trail in the West Trees has a brand new wooden bridge feature ideal for intermediate riders.

“Last year, we took trees that were already cut down and used them as a natural obstacle course,” says Newcombe. “There are a lot of features for all skill levels as well as a lot of options for kids learning to ride.”

Using the resources of the skills park with a touch of creativity is what makes our skills park unique. With its new location between the Acura Tube Park and the ’88 Express, you can guarantee it will be a vital part of the mountain bike school’s daily routine.

For more information, including ticket prices and purchasing, hours of operation and trail maps, click here.

Catch you on the new trails!

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WinSport’s award-winning summer camps offer children unforgettable memories during the week they spend with our qualified instructors.

But like any new experience, an unfamiliar environment can create some anxiety for both campers and their parents in the early days of camp drop-off. It’s called separation anxiety and luckily, there are some simple tips you can follow to make sure the first day at camp is the best it can be for both campers and mom and dad.

WinSport ‘s award winning summer camps offer children a unique outdoor experience.

Erin Rennison is a team lead for summer camps. She says it’s important parents prepare their child for camp before checking in on the first day.

“Talk about what types of activities the child will be doing at camp, emphasizing the fun that they will have,” Erin explains. “Make sure they have all the equipment and supplies required for certain camps such as snacks or athletic shoes so they feel fully prepared and confident.” (For all the details, visit our Know Before You Go camps page here.)

Erin also says it’s important to have a conversation about any fears your child might have and to let them know the instructor will always do everything they can to make the child feel welcome and comfortable at camp.

Michelle Mungar Lumley’s six-year-old son Brayden participated in Sport & Adventure and Hockey camp last year and says parents can get their children engaged the night before camp to reduce any anxiety they may have.

“Get your child to help you prepare their snacks and/or lunch, fill their water bottle and pack extra clothes so they feel prepared and begin to get excited,” Mungar Lumley explains. “It also helps to bring your child to WinSport prior to camp and just walk around. Help them to understand where they will be hanging out. New environments can be scary but if they have been there before and have an understanding of the lay of the land, it won’t be as scary come first day of camp.”

At this point, your child should feel engaged, excited and have a general sense of what to expect at the first day of camp. Now it gets really exciting – arriving to WinSport for their check-in where they get to meet their camp instructor.

As you know, your child can go from excited to nervous in a flash. Mia Giffen, a camp team lead says if your child becomes anxious, it’s important to remind them of similar of situations in which they were dropped off by their parents.

“Remind them how past experiences went – how you had picked them up in the past and the fact that you had come back. Use examples such as at a friend’s house or other camps and activities,” she says

Kristie Pshyk’s nine-year-old daughter Hailey participated in girls-only Mountain Bike and Sport and Adventure summer camps. She says parents can also experience separation anxiety, but that it’s important not to show it.

“If you are anxious about leaving your child, don’t show it. Wave and smile and say good bye and let the experienced instructors take care of the rest,” she explains. “They will call you if your child isn’t coping well. Usually once we are out of site, the child joins in and forgets they are sad to see the parent go – worried anxious parents make anxiety prone kids worse.”

Another great way for families to prepare and get comfortable before camp is to read the “know before you go” part of the WinSport website. This provides essential information including times, a map of the park, what to bring and where to go. https://www.winsport.ca/lessonsprograms/summercamps/campskbyg.cfm

Other tips prior to check-in   

  • Talk to your child about camp. Get them excited about the activities and friends they will meet. Take out the scary unknown aspects of camps and create excitement before they go.
  • Talk about what types of activities the child will be doing at camp, emphasizing the fun that they will have.
  • Clearly define the week/activities – don’t surprise them
  • Have all your campfax forms and waivers signed online ahead of time to make camp check-in a breeze. Refer to the Know Before You Go document: https://www.winsport.ca/lessonsprograms/summercamps/campskbyg.cfm

Other tips at check-in  

  • During check in on day one, have a brief conversation with your child and his/her instructor. This conversation will help set the tone and relationship between them.
  • When dropping off your child, talk to their Instructor and junior instructor. Show your child their group is a safe space.
  • Show your child the schedule for the week and point out the activities that you know they enjoy.
  • If possible, make good byes short so your child can quickly get acquainted with the atmosphere, instructor and fellow campers.
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Several organizations in Calgary host summer camps for kids, but none of them compare to WinSport’s award-winning camps for kids aged 4-16.

Our camps are sport-based, as we believe sport is the perfect vehicle to help each child reach their greatest potential. Don’t believe us? We’ve compiled a list of unique facts about our camps that distinguish ours from the rest of the city.

WinSport leverages its Olympic legacy in its summer camps by offering unique activities.

1.) WinSport summer camp participants get to explore the largest outdoor space in the city. Canada Olympic Park spans a total of 229 acres!

2.) We leverage Calgary’s close proximity to the mountains to introduce summer camp participants to different environments, such as mountain trails and hikes in Kananaskis.

3.) Our summer camp menus are specifically designed to ensure our camp participants’ caloric intake so they have exactly what they need for the activities they’ll be participating in throughout the day. Having distinguished executive chef Liana Robberecht on the WinSport team, allows us to create meals with the best, high quality ingredients.

4.) The WinSport summer camp family is huge! Last year, 5,814 campers participated in WinSport summer camps.

5.) We offer more than a dozen camps across three different categories including hockey, sport and adventure and mountain bike!

6.) We use science to guide our camp curriculum by applying principles like TGfU or Teaching Games for Understanding. Learn more about TGfU here: http://www.playsport.net/about-playsport/teaching-games-understanding-tgfu-approach

7.) Our summer camps use the facilities that played a key role in 79% of Canada’s medals at Pyeongchang! You never know which athlete you’ll meet at WinSport.

Your child will make memories that will last a lifetime at our summer camps. For more information, visit: https://www.winsport.ca/lessonsprograms/summercamps.cfm

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It’s been 30 years since Robyn Perry, who was 12-years-old at the time, lit the cauldron at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium to officially start the 1988 Winter Olympic Games.

It’s the biggest party the city has ever seen and spawned a three-decade long love affair between winter sport, the City of Calgary and Calgarians in general.

“Arguably Calgary’s growth, even just the physical size of the city, can be tied to that coming out party on the world stage,” says Mount Royal University professor David Legg, a past President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Chair of Health and Physical Education at MRU. “It’s tough to name one specific thing as the most important legacy of 1988, but the facilities themselves are the easiest and most demonstrable to the lay person.”

History is rife with Olympic host cities that mothballed their venues almost as fast as they were constructed. Those cities include Sarajevo (winter, 1984); Atlanta (summer, 1996); Athens (summer, 2004) and Beijing (summer, 2008).

Alex Gough`s life would have taken a different turn if it wasn`t for the sliding track at Canada Olympic Park.

Calgary’s legacy facilities, however, have continued to play an important role in the city’s landscape and identity, with all the vital venues from 1988 still being fully utilized – except for the 90-metre ski jump tower at Canada Olympic Park, which is now the departure point for North America’s fastest zipline.

“If you were to count the number of people that have utilized the facilities that were built for 1988, we are hundreds of thousands of people I would guess, if you include all the different facilities combined in some form or another,” said Legg. “That’s a pretty significant impact over a 30-year span. Those impacts are difficult to demonstrate cause and effect and direct and indirect impacts, but, anecdotally, and certainly my gut tells me, that they are significant.”

Those venues continue to play a significant role in WinSport being relevant three decades after Canada Olympic Park was turned over to the Calgary Olympic Development Association by the Government of Canada following the ’88 Games. They are critical to WinSport fulfilling its mission, which is: to provide opportunities for Canadians to discover, develop and excel at sport through world-class training, facilities and exceptional experiences.

“The founding organizers of the Calgary Games deserve so much credit for having the forethought to ensure that the facilities at Canada Olympic Park would be relevant for future generations, thanks to the endowment funds that were created following the Games,” says WinSport President and CEO Barry Heck.

WinSport doesn’t receive direct government funding for its day-to-day operations. It relies on revenue from the ski and snowboard hill, the four ice rinks, public gym, programs, summer camps, its variety of summer and winter activities, and its robust food and beverage operation, which hosts more than 1,000 events yearly.

According to a recent study conducted by Calgary Economic Development, WinSport contributes $120 million of positive economic impact annually to the City of Calgary. This is in addition to the social and cultural impact on the community.

While the facilities have continued to draw Canadian and international athletes for training and competition, perhaps the longest lasting impact of the 1988 Games are the “legacy babies.” These are athletes who wouldn’t have been introduced to certain sports if they weren’t available to them as they were exploring sport.

“Being able to be thrown down a luge track when I was in my adolescence, that was an incredible experience,” says Sam Edney, who first discovered luge in Grade 9 at the suggestion of a physical education teacher. He finished in sixth place this week in Pyeongchang at his fourth Olympic Games. “If you are a kid from Calgary or Alberta, then you are really lucky because we have that opportunity to have access to these facilities.”

Edney is just one of a handful of athletes whose lives would have taken tremendously different paths if they didn’t have access to the Canada Olympic Park venues. Bobsledder Helen Upperton, a silver medallist at the Vancouver 2010 Games, first tried luge as a 12-year-old and was then lured to bobsleigh after college. Lugers Alex Gough, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith often credit their success with the opportunities provided to them thanks to the ’88 Games.

Ski cross racer Brady Leman’s mom worked at Canada Olympic Park as a ski instructor, among other roles, while he was growing up. That gave him access to the hill essentially every day of the week. He is one of 171 athletes competing in Pyeongchang that has either competed or trained at WinSport’s facilities at Canada Olympic Park or the Bill Warren Training Centre in Canmore.

“I had some pretty cool opportunities as a kid was growing up in Calgary, especially spending so much time here (Canada Olympic Park),” said Leman, who won gold on Day 12 in Pyeongchang. “I got exposed to a ton of different sports when I was younger. I think skiing was always in our family and it is definitely in my blood, but I think if it wasn’t that, I would have picked something up else like speed skating, ski jumping or luge.

“Being in Calgary gives you the opportunity to be exposed to those kinds of things and that’s not an opportunity that every kid gets.”

The facilities at Canada Olympic Park have not only withstood the test of time, but have continued to thrive. With a halfpipe upgraded to Olympic standards in 2011, WinSport has drawn some of the world’s great athletes, including legendary snowboarder Shaun White, who held training camps in Calgary for each of the past three years.

The moguls World Cup was recently held in January on the moguls pitch at Canada Olympic Park for the 11th time, while five aerials World Cups have been held there.

The luge World Cup was held in Calgary in November, with Edney and Gough each capturing silver medals – the first time ever two Canadians have won medals at a World Cup in Calgary. In fact, more than 18,000 runs took place on the Calgary track during the 2016-17 winter season.

“For one of the venues that has been around for as long as it has, WinSport and the legacy has done a great job of maintaining the venue and keeping it relevant and up to date,” said Gough, a silver medallist in South Korea. “It’s great for us to have as a training facility and great for us to be here and be able to race on it.”

It’s these venues that are playing a significant role in determining whether the City of Calgary decides to bid on the 2026 Winter Games. Many would only require renovations rather than entirely new facilities. In the case of the sliding track at COP, a refurbishment is scheduled for this spring after WinSport secures the funding required. This facelift is exclusive of a potential Olympic bid.

Upperton’s parents drove her across the city in her early sliding days. Little did she know that that the 1.5-kilometre track would play a huge part of her life, including her introduction to her partner, Jesse Lumsden, a member of Canada’s men’s Olympic bobsleigh team.

“I always say that the sliding sports, a lot of times, it’s a matter of location,” said Upperton, who teamed up with Shelley-Ann Brown to win silver at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. “We happen to live in a city with all these great legacy venues and my parents took me to use them. Eleven years of my life went by. I travelled all over the world, represented my country at two Olympic Games and met amazing people, including Jesse. I had so many great experiences that shaped me into the person I am.”

In fact, the 1988 Games have shaped the lives of thousands.

“Part of Calgary’s DNA is that we were a successful Olympic sport city,” said Legg. “Even Salt Lake City, I don’t know if that’s part of their ethos or how the present themselves, but for us, that’s our signature.”

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A child’s mental and physical development is crucial between the ages of three to five, which is why WinSport took the steps to create an Early Childhood Development (ECD) program called Early Explorers.

Recent studies of ECD indicate that over 50 percent of children entering Kindergarten in Alberta are not developing appropriately in the key areas of development. (EcMap Project, 2014)

The Early Explorers program builds the physical and cognitive development of children in an engaging indoor and outdoor environment.

As WinSport has been a pioneer in programming, the organization began to carefully look at how it can address this issue and build the physical and cognitive development of children through sport. 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.

Previously, WinSport’s focus has been on children over the age of 5, but the Early Explorers program now allows the organization to address the crucial development of children in earlier ages.

To build the program, WinSport worked with the First 2000 Days Network. This group of early childhood experts are tapping into the science, stating 85 percent of the brain’s wiring happens between the ages of 0 and 5. (Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, 2011).

“WinSport’s early childhood programming embraces children’s inquisitive nature and creates opportunities to support and enhance their rapid development,” explains Hollie Cressy, Manager of Sport Development who helped create the Early Explorers program. “We believe children are strong, capable individuals and we value their ability to boldly discover the world around them and fearlessly return to nature and the outdoors.”

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.

“This engaging indoor and outdoor learning environment will stimulate children’s curiosity and sense of wonderment by providing experiences with sporting equipment, nature-based play, obstacle courses, and other activities,” Cressy explains. “In our program we intentionally design stimulating environments that will promote active play and sparks them to explore which ultimately motivates them to move. Another important element is the equipment we put in these spaces and environments. We will have logs, stumps and branches that children will engage with – this leads to developing fundamental movement skills including balance, coordination, jumping, crawling and running.”

Cressy also says another unique part of the program is that children are encouraged to lead their own learning.

“The day-to-day curriculum outcomes are not pre-determined, but rather child-led, allowing them to explore the world around them and guide their own discoveries through dramatic play, art, indoor learning centres like a sand table and a weaving station. Children will spend a large portion of their time outdoors in a variety of weather conditions as this will help build their resilience and creativity within this environment.”

The program will be facilitated by Early Childhood Educators with a minimum of a diploma in Early Childhood Education.

Parent Jennifer Nahu provided insight on the development of the program.

“I had the pleasure to see the time, consideration, learning and effort that has been put into this space and into creating a unique program for Calgary children,” Nahu explains. “WinSport has created an engaging program that will have children learning about the world around them with an emphasis on physical movement nestled in a space that only WinSport can offer. Children will be immersed in movement exploration and sport with a big outdoor component. I am personally excited for my own preschool child to experience this one.”

The six-week program features both once and twice per week options. In its pilot year, the program will run until the end of June. For more information, visit: https://www.winsport.ca/lessonsprograms/earlychildhood.cfm

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WinSport developed the Girls Only Athlete and Leadership program (GOAL) to combat an alarming statistic regarding girls’ participation in sport. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, by the age of 14, girls are dropping out of sport at twice the rate of boys.

It’s the primary reason why WinSport created the GOAL program, which celebrates girls staying in sport, cultivates interest in winter sport and develops opportunities for young athletes to pursue their dreams.

WinSport’s GOAL program is geared towards keeping girls aged 10-16 happy, healthy and active through sport and mentorship.

The program is for girls aged 10-16 where they can participate in either a five-week or nine-week program. Activities and the overall design of the program is geared towards keeping girls happy, healthy and active through sport and mentorship.

Kenedi Fairgrieve Park recently completed the program and says it had a lasting effect on her.

“It was really fun trying all the different sports to see what interests me,” Park says. “I also really enjoyed making connections with the other girls in the program, several of whom I have a continued friendship with. It was very Inspirational to train with all the different female athletes.”

The GOAL program focuses on introducing the girls to several sports so they can both build confidence and spike interest in new sports. Some of the sports include skiing, snowboarding, hockey, trampoline, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and luge, all of which are supported by weekly dryland training.

Park says the wide range of sports kept her engaged.

“It’s a great opportunity to try many different sports to get a feel of what you would like to do and it pushed me out of my comfort zone and it really made me realize how certain sports can be challenging,” Park explains.  “I really enjoyed working out the gym and doing yoga.”

The next program begins on Jan. 11, 2018. For more information, visit: https://www.winsport.ca/lessonsprograms/goalprogram.cfm

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WinSport is excited to launch a new program that will help newcomers to Canada integrate into the Calgary community by introducing them to winter sport.

The WinSport Newcomers program will welcome 60 newcomers to skate, ski and snowboard lessons at WinSport this winter so they can embrace winter and meet fellow Calgarians.

Barry Heck, WinSport President & CEO says the program is an extension of what WinSport has been doing for decades.

“Since the 1960s, WinSport has been a congregation point for Calgarians to come learn how to ski. And since we hosted the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, we’ve grown to become a premier destination where people of all ages come to ski, snowboard, skate and play hockey,” Heck explains. “We take great pride in welcoming people of all ages and abilities to winter sports where we can help build their confidence in sport and in life. The newcomers program is another way in which we can remove barriers and help integrate our new neighbours to the community.”

The idea was born after the success of a pilot program WinSport ran during the past two winter seasons. WinSport worked with local organizations, including the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA) to identify a family interested in participating in a ski lesson. Since 2015, two families took ski lessons. Following the success of the pilot program, CIWA decided to support WinSport’s initiative to expand.

Meanwhile, this past spring the Calgary Christian School held a floor hockey tournament fundraiser, which raised just under $10,000 to help newcomers integrate into Canada.

“Our school welcomes students from all over the world. Because they are new to Calgary, we want them to feel welcomed, and included, and part of what’s happening so that they’ll grow to be confident and active participants in their communities,” said Leona Schaap, communications coordinator for the Calgary Christian School. “WinSport’s Newcomer Program helps our new families integrate into Canadian culture and make Calgary feel like home. We are grateful for the opportunity to support this unique program!”

Instructing sport is nothing new to WinSport, however, introducing sport to newcomers is a relatively new endeavour. To ensure best practices are exercised when introducing newcomers to these sports, WinSport will be working with Simon Barrick, PhD Candidate at the University of Calgary, to adopt best practices in sport integration. His doctoral research involves exploring lived experience of newcomers to Canada in introductory winter sport programs.

WinSport’s partnering with Barrick garnered even more support. Calgarian Bruce Shultz heard about WinSport’s newcomer program and decided to support it though a significant financial donation.

“I was very impressed with Simon Barrick’s research involving the question of identity, inclusion and belongingness of newcomers,” says Shultz. “Sport has played such an important role in my life and I wanted to support the newcomer program. The idea of introducing people new to our country through sport is a great way for them to integrate into our community, meet their new neighbours and begin a shared sense of belonging.”

The support received for the WinSport Newcomers Program will allow WinSport to introduce 60 newcomers to winter lessons. Participants will be placed in groups of 10, which will allow them to connect with others and share the experience together.

How can you help?

WinSport is always looking for people or organizations to donates funds, equipment or clothing so we can continue welcoming newcomers to snow and ice. To put it into perspective, an additional $5,000 would put 15 more people into winter lessons.

Coat Drive

As many newcomers have never experienced winter, they won’t likely have winter apparel. If you would like to donate coats, toques and gloves (no equipment) drop-off areas are set up at the following locations from Oct. 3 – Nov. 13:

Northwest Acura – 125 Crowfoot Way NW

Silverhill Acura – 5728 MacLeod Trail S

Ski Cellar – 5809 Macleod Trail South, 11 Bowridge Drive N.W. or 1442 17 Avenue S.W.

WinSport – 88 Canada Olympic Road SW

MLA Deborah Drever’s Constituency Office – 6307 Bowness Rd NW

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If you’re a fan of WinSport’s zipline, mountain bike trails or summer bobsleigh, then you’re guaranteed to love our new Free Fall adventure, opening for the first time at WinSport in August.

Free Fall is unlike any bungee-jumping or sky-diving experience you’ve had and we have the only one in Western Canada! Picture yourself standing atop our new tower, only 80-feet between you and the ground. When you fall is up to you!

The platform tower is 80 feet above the ground.

Step off the eight-storey platform and prepare for 36-feet of free falling before you’re slowed down by the magnetic braking component that gently catches you and lowers you to the ground.

Free Fall combines the “pit in the stomach” feeling of sky-diving with the rope and harness aspect of bungee jumping (minus the uncontrollable bouncing).

Our new thrill attraction is perfect for anyone looking for a new adventure. Add it to the list of other thrilling activities at the park — or make an exclusive trip to come out and give it a try! Free Fall offers one or two drop tickets, allowing you to choose how many times you want to fall!

Catch you (literally) on the Free Fall tower!

For more information on the FlightLine Free Fall Device check out https://headrushtech.com/flightline-free-fall/index.html

For pricing, hours & more information check out our website https://www.winsport.ca/activities/summer/freefall.cfm

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