Thursday, April 1, 2010

RTC Guelph

After months of behind the scenes work by Triathlon Canada, Triathlon Ontario, and the Canadian Sport Centre Ontario, I'm happy to announce that beginning today, we are a Triathlon Canada Regional Triathlon Centre (RTC-Guelph). For our squad, it means we now fall under the umbrella of Triathlon Canada's High Performance Program, with great support from our partners OAT and CSC-Ontario. In many ways, very little changes; we're still based at the University of Guelph and I'm still the head coach of the program. I'm confident that OAT's Provincial Triathlon Centre will continue to exist - not as a full time training squad (that will be the RTC program) - but as a vehicle to conduct training days and clinics, camps, coach development and talent ID. Details are currently being ironed out, but I think OAT is well positioned to continue to do great work in those areas.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the OAT Board, OAT Executive Director Linda Kirk, and Alan Fairweather for having the vision to help create the PTC program here, and for their incredible support over the last three years. I'd also like to thank Larry McMahon, Kurt Innes and Alan Trivett from Triathlon Canada, along with Dr. Tom Patrick and Tommy Wharton from the Canadian Sport Centre Ontario, and Linda Kirk and the OAT Board for working together to make the RTC-Guelph a reality.

We've certainly come a long way in a short time, and I've had the immense pleasure to work with some amazing athletes and coaches along the way. We still have three 'original' athletes here who've been with the program since the beginning - although I think Dorelle's concept of proper recovery has improved somewhat since the early days - and we'll be working hard to develop athletes who can represent Canada on the international stage.

For now, I'm going to keep the PTC and RTC blogs separate. My hope (expectation) is that the PTC blog will continue, with some new leadership, and I'll keep the RTC blog rolling with updates, too.

Thanks, and all the best in your training and racing.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


As the weather heats up, it's time to get off the trainer and hit the roads. But, don't forget to change that rear tired you've been chewing up all winter. For those athletes with aspirations of racing draft legal, you need to get certified. From the OAT website:

A reminder that all athletes wishing to race "draft legal" in Ontario must have a new (issued in 2010) drafting card.

Drafting cards may be acquired in two ways:

If you have never had one before - you must take a drafting clinic and have the application signed by an NCCP Level 2 Road Cycling Coach.

If you had a drafting card previously - you must submit the application and list 3 draft legal races you completed since January 1, 2008

Upcoming Drafting Clinics:

Drafting Clinic Hosted by fun2tri Triathlon Club - OAT Sanctioned
Coach: Amy Moore, Level 2 Cycling Coach, Former member of the National Cycling Team, Former member of the Canadian Age Group World Triathlon Team
Sunday April 18, 2010
Robert F Hall Secondary School
6500 Old Church Road
Caledon East, ON

Registration: 9:30
Clinic starts at 10:00, finishes at 3:30
Cost; $20.00
Please contact: Lorri Zagar to secure a spot

Drafting Clinic Hosted by The Ontario Association of Triathletes

Coach: Sean Scott, Level 2 Cycling Coach,
Sunday May 2, 2010
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON
This clinic will be run as part of the final PTC Training Day.
No additional fee will be added however pre-registration with Leigh-Ann Rowe is required.
This clinic is limited to 20 people.

Monday, March 22, 2010


I've been told I need to blog more, so instead of the infrequent notices and pictures I've been posting lately, here's a meatier post that I've been meaning to write for a while - although I suspect there are only 3 or 4 coaches who might be interested, and everyone else is likely running for the blog links already. Onwards.

I first read the Sport Canada Long Term Athlete Development Model (aka LTAD) approximately 6 years ago. The LTAD examines sport structure and sport/athlete development in Canada, and makes recommendations for how we can better develop our athletes for international success and/or lifelong sport enjoyment. The LTAD model was developed right here in Canada (originating in BC), and has been adopted by many countries around the globe, most notably the UK. In fact, every sport in Canada - and many sport federations in other countries - have used the LTAD as a framework from which to craft their own sport-specific LTADs. Google "LTAD" to get an idea of how far and wide the model has travelled.

When I first read the LTAD, I thought it was a great resource, and I think that's still how it's generally received by people. To be sure, there are several excellent aspects to the LTAD (ie. the FUNdamentals stage, emphasizing physical literacy, avoiding early specialization, recommending that top coaches work with developing athletes, etc.), but there are also a few things, presented as fact, that simply don't stand up to any sort of critical investigation. Falling squarely in the latter category is the concept of "Windows of Trainability".

As with anything presented as fact, I think it's a good idea to ask a simple question: "Is that true?" For two or three years after first reading the LTAD, I took the content to be fact. I even taught those facts to other coaches. It wasn't until I was enrolled at the NCI, where I was required to prepare a LTAD project, that I took a more critical look at the LTAD model. I came across this article from the UK - still one of the only critiques of LTAD to be found online - which raised some concerns with the model and suggested that readers "drill down to the actual claims in science and follow the references." So that's the approach I took.

First, a quick summary:

The LTAD begins by identifying shortcomings and consequences of the Canadian Sport System, which include:

-coaches largely neglect the critical periods of accelerated adaptation to training.

-failure to reach optimal performance levels in international competitions.
-poor movement abilities.
-lack of proper fitness.
-poor skill development.
-fluctuating national performance due to lack of TID and a developmental pathway.
-athletes failing to reach their genetic potential and optimal performance level.

As part of the solution to these and other problems, the LTAD model recommends that young athletes be trained and organized according to their biological maturity, rather than their chronological maturity. Biological maturity can be assessed several ways, but the least invasive method is by frequently measuring and charting the height of a young athlete. The adolescent (pubertal) growth spurt, or 'peak heigh velocity' (PHV), is a good marker for puberty and the myriad biological, physiological and psychological changes which ensue. So far so good; it makes sense to consider the needs of early, normal, and late maturing athletes (ie. biological age) rather than always simply grouping them chronologically.

More importantly however, the LTAD goes on to identify "Windows of Trainability". These are specific times in the life of a young athlete, some aligned with chronological age and others aligned with biological age (via PHV), when an athlete is uniquely sensitive to specific types of training and capable of enhanced adaptation. These are the 'critical periods' which are being 'neglected' by coaches, resulting in the failure to develop athletes appropriately.

These Windows of Trainability are listed here (bottom of page), and summarized in the chart below, where the x-axis is developmental age and the y-axis is annual growth rate. The specific "windows" are identified by the boxes.

The reader is therefore left with the understanding that there are specific identifiable episodes in the life of a young athlete when specific types of training result in enhanced or accelerated adaptations. Furthermore, neglecting these opportunities limits the long term success of the athlete. For a coach working with youth/junior athletes, this looks like the holy grail of development coaching, but Is that True?

Dr. David Collins, the former performance director of UK Athletics says no, arguing that "there's no evidence for [the LTAD]". For anyone who takes the time to review the literature, it's hard to disagree with Dr. Collins.

The truth is: if you were to read the references cited in any version of the LTAD (or any one of several official LTAD presentations I've attended), you would not find one single peer-reviewed paper which provides evidence for these "Windows". I'll repeat that: None of the articles cited in any version of the LTAD, past or present, provides empirical support for the concept of Windows of Trainability. To be honest, there is one article you might not be able to read because I've been unable to find an english translation (Harsanyi, L.”A 10-18 eves atletak felkeszitesenek modellje.” Budapest: Utanpotlas-neveles, No.10, 1983.), but aside from that one exception, you could read every book and article and not find a shred of evidence.

So what exactly is the evidence used to support this concept?

There seem to be two main types of support used for Windows of Trainability in the LTAD. The first are articles by Balyi & Way (including the chart above), who also happen to be two of the principle authors of the LTAD. "Drilling down" through earlier documents reveals an interesting pattern; each new version of the LTAD cites an earlier article by Balyi & Way (or Bayli) which claims the existence of Windows of Trainability. To be fair, the concept has been proposed by researchers and coaches for at least 30-40 years, so this isn't a new idea. Yet nowhere in this chain of citations can a reader find any original research conducted by Balyi & Way. Furthermore, none of the articles have been subjected to the rigour of peer-review in a scientific journal. The result is a series of opinion pieces repeatedly cited as fact and bolstered by the claim that "this document (the LTAD) is fully based on and supported by the coaching and exercise science literature."

The second type of support is what I will term 'implied' or 'associated' - there are several references in the bibliography with titles that sound like they support the concept of Windows of Trainability. Although some (perhaps half) are peer-revivewd, most aren't actually cited in the text of the document, and none actually provide proof of the concept.

One such example is Vorontsov's (1999) "Patterns of Growth for Some Characteristics of Physical Development: Functional and Motor Abilities in Boy Swimmers 11 – 18 Years", which sounds impressive, but makes no attempt to prove that Windows of Trainability exist.

Perhaps the best example however is Viru et al.'s (1999) "Critical Periods in the Development of Performance Capacity During Childhood and Adolescence". From the title alone, it would sound like an important piece of supporting evidence for the concept of Windows of Trainability. In fact, I've seen this specific article used in LTAD presentations as proof of the concept. But anyone who bothers to read the article will find only that the authors suggest in passing that training during times of accelerated growth might result in enhanced adaptation, and that further research is required to investigate the issue; hardly rock-solid proof.

Fortunately, the same group of researchers made good on their recommendation and conducted research to investigate the issue in female athletes. In a cross-sectional study of more than 1544 girls aged 10-17 (642 active in track & field, 902 inactive), they found that "sport training at the age of 10-13 did not bring about a more intensive development of motor performance compared with that of nonactive girls of the same age" (Loko et al, 2003). That finding is completely counter to the LTAD model which states that there are critical windows for speed and strength development for girls in this age range. Although it was published 7 years ago, this study has yet to be included in the LTAD or related presentations.

Perhaps more interesting are two studies which investigated the effects of training in adolescent identical twin boys. By studying identical twins with one brother training and one brother remaining inactive, these studies control for genetics (since we know that genetics influence training response (Bouchard et al., 1999)) and maturation (since identical twins are likely to progress through puberty at the same rate), allowing the investigators to isolate the training effect.

More than 30 years ago, Weber et al. (1976) studied 12 pairs of genetically identical twin boys; four 10 year-old pairs, four 13 year-old pairs, four 16 year-old pairs. One twin from each pairing completed 7 workouts a week for 10 weeks, while his brother acted as the sedentary control.

Not surprisingly, the trained brothers in the 10 year-old and 16 year-old groups demonstrated better fitness than their sedentary brothers after 10 weeks of training. Among the 13 year-olds however, there was no difference between the trained and untrained brothers after 10 weeks - their VO2max and other parameters improved at the same rate. During peak growth, when the LTAD says that training targeted to improve aerobic capacity and power should have the greatest effect, there was no enhanced adaptation. In fact, not only was there no accelerated training adaptation, there was no adaptation at all, beyond that which was due to growth. The maximal oxygen uptake of the sedentary twin improved just as much (15.95% +/- 8.95%) as his brother who trained 7 days a week for 10 weeks (see chart below).

Based on their findings, the authors concluded, "the old hypothesis that more may be gained by introducing extra exercise at the time when the rate of growth is greatest is not tenable" (Weber, 1976).

Weber et al's (1976) work did earn some criticism however, primarily that the active twins only trained approximately 2-3 hours per week, and that chronological age, rather than biological maturity was used to classify the groups. The first criticism is easily addressed by noting that the training load was enough for both the 10 year-old and 16 year-old trained subjects to demonstrate a training effect compared to the sedentary controls. But what about the question of biological maturity? Were the 13 years olds really in that PHV "Window of Trainability" identified in the LTAD?

Fortunately, Danis et al. (2003) considered this issue in a study of 9 pairs of identical male twins, aged 11 to 14. The biological age of the twins was assessed using Tanner Stages (the gold standard), with all pairs being found to be pre-pubertal or pubertal. According to the LTAD model, the pre-pubertal subjects would demonstrate a modest increase in VO2 due to training, but the pubertal subjects would demonstrate an enhanced or accelerated training adaptation.

One twin was trained for 6 months, 3 times a week, while his brother remained inactive. At the end of the study, training resulted in a higher VO2max amongst the trained pre-pubertal twins compared to their sedentary brothers. But once again, there was no different in VO2max (L/min) amongst the pubertal twin pairs, despite 6 months of training for the trained group (Note: relative VO2max (ml/kg/min) was actually higher in the trained twin due to a reduction in body fat, but training did not improve metabolic or cardiovascular function beyond the improvements due to growth observed in the control group). Echoing the findings published 27 years earlier, Danis et al. (2003) concluded that "growth at puberty, regardless of structural and functional acceleration, leaves no place for the effective influence of training on variables of maximal effort" (see proposed model below).

So where does this leave the concept of "Windows of Trainability"? To date, I have not seen one peer-reviewed study demonstrating an accelerated or enhanced adaptation to training (speed, stamina, power, strength) amongst males or females during one of the so-called "Windows of Trainability". Even the references in the LTAD which are intended to support the concept fail to provide any proof.

Even more damaging however are the peer-reviewed studies, three of which are discussed in this post, which demonstrate that rather than enhancing adaptation during these windows of trainability, targeted training during these episodes has no effect on parameters such as aerobic power, aerobic capacity, speed, and power. Far from being Windows of Trainability, these are actually periods of the least trainability. During these phases, adolescents get stronger/faster/fitter simply by growing.

If there are studies out there which actually support the concept, I'd love to see them. I'm not against the idea if it can actually be demonstrated to exist, but I do take issue with continuing to push an idea when all of the available evidence is against it. Presenting this concept as fact to coaches, parents, athletes and administrators does not serve the development of athletes.

But let's bring this post back full-circle; don't take my word for it, find out for yourself. Read the studies and come to your own conclusion - it's the best way to become educated. If anyone has made it this far, and they want to keep going, e-mail me and I'll send you full text PDFs of the studies in question. Review the literature and determine for yourself where the truth lies - you'll be better educated and more informed for your effort, and maybe you'll expand your understanding of athlete development in the process.

In the meantime, if you coach developing athletes, you've got one less thing to worry about because you don't have to sequence training to match critical development windows. I would still recommend however that you read the generic LTAD ( and your sport specific LTAD if your sport has one. There are several great ideas in these documents, as long as you remember that the concept of Windows of Trainability isn't one of them.


Bouchard, C., An, P., Rice, T., Skinner, J., Wilmore, J., Gagnon, J., Perusse, L., Leon, A., and D. C. Rao (1999). Familial aggregation of VO2max response to exercise training: Results from the HERITAGE Family Study. Journal of Applied Physiology, 87(3), 1003-1008.

Danis, A., Kyriazis, Y., and V. Klissouras. (2003). The effect of training in male prepubertal and pubertal monozygotic twins. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 89, 309-318.

Loko, J., Aule, R., Sikkut, J., Ereline, J., & A. Viru. (2003). Age differences in growth and physical abilities in trained and untrained girls 10-17 years of age. American Journal of Human Biology, 15, 72-77.

Viru, A., Loko, J., Maarike, H., Volver, A., Laaneots., L, and M. Viru. (1999). Critical periods in the development of performance capacity during childhood and adolescence. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 4(1), 75-199.

Vorontsov, A.R. (1999). Patterns of growth for some characteristics of physical development: Functional and motor abilities in boy swimmers 11 – 18 years. In: Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming VIII. Eds. Keskinen, K.L., Komi, P.V. and Hollander, A.P. Jyvaskyla, Gunners.

Weber, G., Kartodihardjo, W., and V. Klissouras. (1976). Growth and physical training with reference to heredity. Journal of Applied Physiology, 40(2), 211-215.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Junior Provincials returns to Ontario soil, the Elites/U23s get to battle it out in a draft-legal format, and we get our first 14-15 draft legal race in Ontario.  Should be a fun day in Ottawa.

U15 Development Race

Saturday July 31, 2010

More info here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010


Yesterday, Canada was represented by myself (Dorelle) and team mates Mireille Rodrigue and Manon Létourneau from Quebec at the BRAZIL FAST TRIATHLON.

This live for TV event consisted of 3 triathlons separated by a 15 minute break. The 1 loop 250m swim was followed by 6 laps of the 600m course for the bike and a 2 loop (1.2km) run. Teams of three were represented by Brazil, Canada, Italy, Russia, Argentina, and Spain. Each finish position was given a point value and the team scores were added to determine the overall team winner.

Preparations into the race were not as expected. Mireille's bike never arrived and she had to borrow one for the race, and Manon was delayed in her travel, stuck at an airport for 3 days, before arriving at the hotel at 10pm the night before the race! This also being our first international experience we did not know quite what to expect. All three of us raced tough and were able to come through with a 4th place finish, just 4 points out from the podium.

A big thanks to TriCan for the opportunity to race, as well as the race directors here in Brazil for putting on such an amazing event.

CT EDIT: Videos of each race now available online, here.

Here's Round #1:

Friday, February 26, 2010


AH getting ready for the training day.

Our next training day is fast approaching on Sunday March 7th. E-mail Leigh-Ann Rowe to reserve a spot. We can take max of 40 athletes, and we sold out for the last training day, so don't delay. More details at our Training Day Group on Facebook. Coaches on deck for March 7th will be me (CT), Lorri Zagar, Danielle Dickson, Chris VanBeurden. Looking forward to a great day of training!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Courtesy of Ian Donald. Nice work.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


We've just wrapped up our winter camp here in Clermont, Florida. Half of the squad is already in the air (flying home), and the rest of us are loading the van for the drive back. Internet was sketchy and the days were busy - that's our excuse for the lack of blog posts. PK's squad has put us to shame in the blogging department, but we may be able to put a video or two together during the drive home. Special thanks to coaches Greg Kealey and Lorri Zagar for their guidance and support during the camp, and congrats to the athletes; everyone arrived ready to work, and pushed their boundaries during our time here. A great start to the 2010 season.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The boys getting ready for a good swim

Busy days lately = no new posts.

Among other things, we've been doing some swim races/TT's lately. Connor, Dorelle and Angela raced for the Guelph Gryphons at the OUA Swim Championships last weekend, with good results. Earlier this evening, most of the rest of the crew got a chance to swim at the UofG last chance meet. Most of the crew swam the 1500, while Connor took a crack at the 200 (he raced the 1500 at OU's) and our newest triathlete, Derek Snider, tackled the 800. Unfortunately, Ian was sick with a bug that's making the rounds, but he'll be back to fighting form soon.

I know that many of the youth/junior triathletes around the province have also been racing lately, with good results. Hopefully I'll find time to post a summary of those results, soon. For now, here's what the squad has been up to:

Tyler Bredschnieder 17:06.3
Connor Hammond 17:51.0
Angela Quick 18:08.3*
Dorelle Hinton 18:15.9*
Alexander Hinton 18:20.5*
Tom Lokody 18:24.6*

Derek Snider 10:31.6*

* PB's

Congrats to the squad on their performances.

Now, let's get faster.

We're off to Clermont, Florida, for a camp next week so look for some videos soon.

Some jam to go with Tom's PB

Monday, February 1, 2010


Great day yesterday with 40+ athletes swimming, biking and running, with large training squads for all groups (10-12, 13-15, Juniors, Adults). Thanks to the coaches, athletes and parents for a great day.

The Gear Swap also went really well, especially considering it was pulled together in 2 weeks. Thanks to everyone who came to sell some gear, and to those who came to shop. I managed to get great deals on a bike repair stand and a new Giro helmet - I better start riding.

If anyone has feedback on the gear swap (whether you attended or not), please e-mail me with your ideas and feedback, with "Gear Swap" in the subject line. We'd like to organize a swap next year, and we obviously need to provide more notice, but any feedback on the following would be appreciated:

- what time of year would be best?
- what items are you most interested in? (bikes, wheels, wetsuits, other?)
- should we organize a swap in conjunction with a training day (or training weekend?), or as a separate event?
- anything else?

Next Training Day is Sunday March 7th.

All the best in your training and racing.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Updated Jan 30, 9:07pm.

We have several more items for sale, including 10 bikes and/or frames. Sellers have cycling and running shoes, bags, backpacks, wheelsets, tires and a bunch of other equipment. See the GEAR LIST for more details.

Edit: Specialized M4 51cm bike sold today.

Just one of the bikes for sale Sunday

DIRECTIONS TO UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH: Click on this link, add your address, and "Get Directions."

LOCATION: The Gear Swap will take place in the Grypon Dome. Click this link, and then select "Find on Map" for location of Gryphon Dome.


8:00AM The Athletic Centre opens; athletes will enter to register for the training day

8:15AM The Gryphon Dome should be open by 8:15A, at which time we'll get some tables set up, and get the sellers organized

8:30AM The Swap Begins.

10:00-10:30 We'll aim to wrap things up by 10 or 10:30am. We'll be on the track, in the Dome, and we'll have to be respectful of groups who have booked the infield for activities.

Some important notes:

- there is a bathroom and water fountain at the dome, and Tim Horton's in the Hockey Arena, across from the Athletic Centre
- Sellers may want to bring along some small bills for change
- Sellers may accept personal cheques at their own discretion
- parking is free on Saturdays at UofG, and there is a small parking lot directly beside (south) of the Gryphon Dome

- Lorri Zagar will be in charge of getting you organized tomorrow morning, with the help of a few volunteers
- we will have a few trainers (4 or 5) available for you to set bikes up, but since we have 8 complete bikes coming, we'd appreciate it if a few of you could bring a trainer to showcase your bike
- we'll bring some tables in from the Athletic Centre (and we'll try to get some chairs)
- bring your own price tags, markers, etc.
- Sellers set their own prices, and do their own haggling

- this is open to the public, so come on by, no charge
- please give the sellers time to make sure they are set up and ready to go
- there will be more items for sale than those listed on the Gear List
- bring cash - the closest bank machine (CIBC) is in the University Centre (a 3-4 minute walk from the Gryphon Dome)
- if you are shopping for a bike, make sure you know your measurements - Competitive Cyclist has a nice tutorial on measuring for bike fit, including video demonstrations, and it's relatively straight forward....definitely worth 20mins of your time to ensure you get a bike that fits properly in the winter
- do your homework - many of the bigger items for sale are listed on the gear list, so do some homework on any items you are particularly interested in
- Need to try on a wetsuit? Come to the pool to swim a few laps before you buy (between 8:30-10:00a)....don't forget to bring a swim suit and towel

Looking forward to a great day tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


EDIT: Gear Swap List is HERE. Lots of new items added.

A few updates for the coming weekend on the Training Day and Gear Swap.

TRAINING DAY: We're FULL (or we might have one spot left, check with LeighAnn if you're interested). This is the second time we've reached capacity (40) at a Training Day - the other was Simon's visit after Beijing - so we're excited to have a full house with lots of energy. Breakdown by group: 10-12yr Group: 8 athletes, 13-15yr Group: 16 athletes, Juniors: 7 (+PTC squad), Adults: 8 athletes.

GEAR SWAP: In addition to the Training Day, we're going to host a Triathlon Gear Swap on Sunday. Due to venue bookings and coach availability, the swap will run concurrently with the training day swim. If you are an athlete attending the training day, or a parent with an athlete in the training day, feel free to pull them out of the swim to check out the swap - we'll integrate them back into workout when you are done. We'll also be able to set aside some pool space for anyone who might want to try out a wetsuit prior to purchasing it.


SELLERS: There's a $2 to sell, but no charge if you (or family) are registered for the training day. Please e-mail me to let me know you are brining items for sale, and send me the details so I can add it to the list.

EQUIPMENT LIST: See the top of this post.

BUYERS: Come and have a look, no charge.


8:00AM: Doors of the Athletic Centre open.

8:10AM: Doors of the UofG Dome open. We'll be using the dome for the swap. Sellers to set up their gear from 8:10-8:30AM. We'll have trainers to put the bikes on, and we'll try to have some tables/chairs for the other equipment. Lorri Zagar will co-ordinate the set-up.

8:30AM: Swap time until 9:30AM.

That's it. Short and sweet. If you have any triathlon gear around the house that you've outgrown, or you aren't using, let me know and bring it to the swap. We'd like to grow this into an annual event to help the Ontario triathlon community, and to put good gear to good use.

NOTE: Personal plug for old(er) tires: If you have any spare 700c tires.....something used but with some life left in them.... bring them and I'll make you an offer. We (PTC squad) are burning through tires on the trainers at a pretty fast rate this winter.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I've started putting a quote up on the right side bar - hopefully our dear reader finds something useful or inspirational from time to time. I was updating the quote today, and thought a bit of backstory on the current quote would make a good post.

The quote comes from Italian speedskater Enrico Fabris, who won three medals at the 2006 Turin Olympics. The Canadian speed skating team, led by Cindy Klassen, was nothing short of exceptional during those games. But four years later, Frabris' CBC interview immediately after the men's 1500m is what sticks with me.

Fabris came into the Turin Games having just won the European Championships a month earlier. But while he had been on the podium at a few World Cups and the World Champs, he had never won gold on the international circuit. And he had never won an international medal of any colour in the 1500m.

At the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, he was 16th in the 5000m, and 26th in the 1500m.

Fabris opened the Turin games by claiming Italy's first ever Olympic speed skating medal (a bronze) in the 5000m. Five days later, he followed with a gold in the team pursuit, as the Italian men upset powerhouses Canada (silver) and Denmark (bronze).

But it was in the 1500m where the real magic happened. At best, Fabris was a longshot against American co-favourites Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick. But someone forgot to tell Fabris about the odds, or maybe he just ignored them.

Fabris skated in the third-last pairing, setting the fastest time: 1:45.97. He then waited as Hedrick and then Davis skated in the last two pairings. Hedrick, the Olympic 5000m Gold medallist, who prior to the Games had predicted he would win 5 gold medals in Turin, was ahead of Fabris through the early splits. At the line, he came up 0.25 seconds short in 1:46:22.

The crowd was electric; Fabris was guaranteed at least a bronze medal, but there was still hope for something more. The final pairing featured the Olympic 1000m Gold medallist and pre-race favourite Davis, who had decided not to race the team pursuit in order to be rested for the 1000m and 1500m.

Italian and US flags waiving, crowd screaming, clock ticking, Davis flew. Like Hedrick, Davis was ahead of Fabris through the opening splits. He simply eclipsed the other skater in the pairing. He was racing only against the clock, chasing his second gold. And when the clock stopped, Fabris had beaten Davis by 0.18 seconds.

The home crowd went crazy. Fabris was mobbed by his team, the stands were red, white and green, and the Italian commentators were so excited they knocked over the press box camera in their celebration. Pandemonium. Pure joy.

Somehow, a CBC reporter waded into the scrum and got a microphone in front of Fabris in those first moments after his win, and this is what he said:

"First of all, I believed in it. If you believe, you can train and work so hard to get your goal…..and I did it, and it’s wonderful!”

It's still one of my favourites.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Phys Ed: Will Olympic Athletes Dope if They Know It Might Kill Them?
January 20, 2010, 12:01 AM
New York Times

In November, a study appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine that should give pause to many athletic dopers and those who love them. The study examined the effects of Darbepoetin Alfa, one of a class of drugs commonly known as Epo that is used to stimulate the body’s production of red blood cells. In the experiment, more than 4,000 patients with diabetes, kidney disease and anemia were given either Epo or a placebo. The researchers were testing the impact of the drug when it was used as approved, at moderate doses in sick people. What they found, to their surprise, was that slightly more of the patients taking Epo suffered heart attacks than those in the placebo group, that nearly twice as many suffered a stroke and that the Epo group’s self-reported quality of life, their subjective sense of fatigue and illness, was barely better than with placebo.


More heart attacks, strokes and addition to being a cheat.

Full article here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Triathlon Canada recently announced the 2010 Teck Team and 2010 National Development Team. Ontario's Connor Hammond joins some elite company as they prepare for a great 2010 season. Congrats to all athletes on their selection. Go Canada!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


A great idea came to my inbox recently: How about a triathlon gear swap?

So, we're going to start the next Training Day (Sun. Jan 31st) with a gear swap, here at UofG. If you have gear to sell, including bikes, or you're looking for some equipment (especially for your fast-growing youth or junior athlete), this would be perfect for you.

I'll have final details over the next day or two, but wanted to post this to give a bit more notice.

Watch this space for details about the gear swap, shortly.

If you're coming to the Training Day on Sunday Jan 31st, please e-mail LeighAnn to confirm your attendance.

More soon......

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Two quick updates, recently posted on the TriCan site.

Triathlon Canada is accepting nominations for their 2009 Awards. Follow this link for more info, and nominate someone today.

PATCO for Juniors; May 22
Selection Criteria to the 2010 PATCO Selection Event (for juniors) are now posted. The actual PATCO champs will be October 3rd, but since PATCO is used to secure spots at the World Championships for juniors, and since the real PATCO race is a month after Worlds, we (Canada) will earn our spots on the start line for Junior Worlds at this "PATCO Selection Event" in May. The junior athletes who win the PATCO event in October will be the 2010 PATCO junior champions, but for the purposes of determining how many spots we get at worlds (up to a maximum of 3), this PATCO Selection Event May 22nd is the key event.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Some New Years inspiration. Rumour has it that Ian Donald has already ordered a hot dog race suit for 2010.

From the Globe & Mail.

All the best in training and racing in 2010.