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Coaching legends prepare to share their wisdom in Winnipeg

The National Coaches’ Conference in Winnipeg May 27 to 30 for both coaches and officials will offer a hint of just how Canadians are taking the lead in all pressing questions relating to skating.

Held as part of Skate Canada’s Annual Convention General Meeting (ACGM), this year’s theme “Partners in Progress” promises to offer an excellent range of workshops and social networking opportunities to the participants – Skate Canada coaches, officials, and international coaches as well.  As a result of Skate Canada changing their bylaws, NCCP certified Skate Canada coaches will become full voting members of the association for the very first time, which marks the importance of the voice of coaches.

“Skate Canada is really working on the coaching and I think that is so key,” says Tracy Wilson, slated to give two skating skills workshops at the conference. “It’s such a resource and we share information because we all have our fields of expertise and when we come together and share, we all benefit.”

Skate Canada has identified partnerships as the glue that binds together all of their strategic imperatives to 2018. One of those partnerships is with Hockey Canada to bring the joy of skating to all Canadians. Guest speaker at the NCC opening dinner is Melody (call her Mel) Davidson, coach of the women’s hockey team that won gold at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics. She’s a builder of her sport, which now emphasizes speed and skill so much.

Speaking of partnerships, the 2015 ACGM/NCC will also feature Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje and Olympic women’s hockey team gold medalist Meaghan Mikkelson, who also teamed up with hockey colleague Natalie Spooner to win seven legs of The Amazing Race Canada during the show’s second season.

Yes, a big field is opening up to skating, with its well organized skills system, especially with the new CanSkate program, which teaches  learn-to-skate skills   to youngsters who may become speed skaters or hockey players, or ringette players or adults who skate for the love of it.

At the conference, Wilson will go through many of the exercises she has used and developed over the years, starting with her work as an Olympic medalist in ice dancing with Rob McCall, her work with hockey players, and finally with international skaters such as Olympic champions Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao, Yu Na Kim, and Yuzuru Hanyu and European champ Javier Fernandez. She and coach Brian Orser have both “honed in on what works to help different skaters,” she said. Her first workshop will show basic skills and exercises (“It’s everything that everybody knows but with a different slant,” she says) and the next class is about how to develop them.

The conference is packed with other gems: renowned Winnipeg sports psychologist Dr. Cal Botterill will speak about how to prevent burnout and “under-recovery” in athletes and coaches; sport headliners Sally Rehorick, Dr. Jane Moran and Monica Lockie will probe the burning problem of troublesome boots and blades; and judge Karen Howard will expound on what the referee says to the panel before an event (information coaches don’t want to miss!). Dr. William Bridel offers up chats about currently hot topics of bullying in sport and pain and injury from a socio-cultural perspective; Donna King and Lockie will preview the next chapter of the CanSkate juggernaut with new materials, resources and activities; and choreographer Mark Pillay will present on-and-off-ice workshops on musicality (and as an extra treat, his pupil Liam Firus will show off his new programs for 2015-2016.).

Rehorick and friends have already been busy behind the scenes conducting an informal six-month investigation into the effects of boot and blade selection on the performance of skaters at all levels and will try to propose the next steps toward research and education.

Rehorick has spoken with coaches, doctors, parents, researchers, skate technicians, distributors, team leaders and administrators about the problem. Sadly, she’s seen skaters at the Learn-to-Train and Learn-to-Compete levels struggling with boots that “seemed to control the skater, rather than the other way around.” The problem is a world-wide one. The ISU has been studying it through medical commission chair Dr. Moran, a Canadian.

Dr. Bridel, a former Skate Canada employee and now a professor at the University of Calgary’s department of kinesiology, will discuss preventive measures with bullying issues, rather than reactive strategies and how kids are exposed to bullying in the larger sociocultural context. He sees bullying becoming more of a problem because of social media. He’s also involved with a bystander intervention group at the university.

He also describes a culture that prevents skaters from revealing an injury, so that they don’t get help when they need it. Again, prevention is the key.

Dr. Botterill’s chat will be vital. “Under-recovery is kind of like an epidemic,” he says. “In high performance fields, people are pushing the envelope so hard, life in this era has so many distractions, and people aren’t recovering in the way they need to.”

Over the past 15 years of his 40-year career, most of Dr. Botterill’s work has been focused on helping people get rest and regain their health – and performance levels. Technology is addictive, he warns. He believes a high percentage of people are burned out and don’t even know it.

Last year, the National Coaches’ Conference reached a height of 275 registrants. And oh yes, names like Olympic cyclist Tanya Dubnicoff, now an executive coach, synchronized skating coach Shelley Barnett, and others such as Manon Perron, Lee Barkell, and Skate Canada’s Coaching Development Committee members such as Laurene Collin-Knoblauch, Raoul Leblanc, Paul MacIntosh, Pascal Denis, Keegan Murphy, Mary-Liz Wiley, Megan Svistovski, and Chris Stokes  will unleash their wisdom in workshops, too.

Have you booked your trip yet?

Canada’s Skating Community Heads to Quebec City

OTTAWA, ON:  Quebec City, Que., will welcome more than 500 members of the skating community for Skate Canada’s Annual Convention and General Meeting (ACGM) and National Coaches’ Conference (NCC).  The events will be held from May 28-31, 2014 at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City.

Over the four days, delegates and coaches will be reminded that it’s our individual experiences that provide the basis for our sport’s growth and when those experiences are combined with a passion for skating, it’s clear: Canada Skates!

The NCC kicks off officially on Wednesday evening when coaches will be joined by 2006 Olympic bronze medalist Jeffrey Buttle at the opening dinner.  The action continues all day Thursday, when coaches from across Canada will attend workshops from world-class coaches, including Manon Perron, Richard Gauthier, Janet Champion and Cathy Dalton. Off-ice sessions will include a wide variety of topics ranging from “Sport-Related Pain and Injury” with Dr. William Bridel to “Coaching Business: Apps 101” with Cyndie Flett.

Thursday evening the ACGM begins by celebrating our success in Sochi and for the first time ever, having nine Olympic medalists in figure skating.  All members of the silver medal winning team event will be in present to share their inspiring stories at the convention opening: Patrick Chan, Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford; Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch; Kaetlyn Osmond; Kevin Reynolds; and Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir.

On Friday, attendees participate in a variety of workshops, presentations and social events.  All of the workshops cover hot topic items including “Sport Psychology: Skating Begins in the Mind” by Dr. Sylvain Guimond, “Teaching the New CanSkate Program: Keys to Success” and “Bullying in Sport” by Dr. William Bridel.

A number of awards will be presented on Friday evening during the Skate Canada Achievement Awards Gala and Banquet. The program honours skaters, coaches and dedicated volunteers who have donated their time to improving the quality of skating in Canada. World renowned coach Kerry Leitch will also be inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame during the evening.

The event concludes on Saturday with the 101st Annual General Meeting of the association.

Media looking to attend any ACGM or NCC workshop or presentation are asked to arrange times through Barb MacDonald, Skate Canada Director Corporate Communications, by contacting her at 613.894.1769 or [email protected]

Winnipeg to host Skate Canada’s 2015 Annual Convention and General Meeting and National Coaches’ Conference

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada announced today that Winnipeg, Manitoba, will be the host city for its 2015 Annual Convention and General Meeting (ACGM), in conjunction with the 2015 National Coaches’ Conference (NCC). The events will run from May 27-30, 2015 at The Fort Garry Hotel.

Winnipeg last hosted the event in 2005 and the Saturday program in 2015 will include the association’s 102nd AGM.

“We are excited to bring together our diverse skating family in Winnipeg for our National Coaches’ Conference and Annual Convention and General Meeting,” said Dan Thompson, Skate Canada’s Chief Executive Officer. “The city has so much to offer our delegates and members. We know that in addition to the conference activities, they can look forward to a wonderful experience and a warm welcome in Manitoba. We are particularly looking forward to celebrating the first year of the introduction of our new CanSkate program and reporting on the progress of our 2014-2018 strategic plan”

“We’re thrilled that Skate Canada has chosen Winnipeg. With 450 delegates coming to the city, this conference will boost the economy with an estimated delegate spend of close to $500,000 on hotels, restaurants, shopping, attractions and more,” said Marina R. James, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg.”

“This is great news for the city and local industry partners as we get an opportunity to showcase all our city has to offer as a meeting destination to delegates from across the country. So much has changed in 10 years with all the new developments, so we’re excited to welcome the Skate Canada family once again,” says Chantal Sturk-Nadeau, senior vice president, Tourism Winnipeg.

The figure skating delegates and coaches in Winnipeg will celebrate the 2014-2015 season’s competitive and corporate successes and outline goals and directions for coming years.