Friday, February 12, 2010

Own the Podium Gives Edge to Canadian Athletes

Canada's Own the Podium's "Top Secret" program for competitive athletes is expected to keep fans jumping for joy at the Olympic Games in Vancouver.

"Every nation has something up their sleeve," says Matt Price, Alpine Canada's sports science director, "but on race day, the athlete who's psychologically ready to race and ready to execute, they have the upper hand." (Globe and Mail, Feb. 9, 2010)

Elite athletes, like savvy business owners, need every advantage to succeed, especially in the mind.

So, what are some of the "extra edges" that Own the Podium (OTP) has been offering Canadian athletes? Here's some of the benefits listed in Canada's Globe and Mail, Feb. 9, 2010.

1. An $8 million sporting Manhattan Project - theatrically dubbed "Top Secret" - reaching out to researchers from 17 universities around the country. There is also a five-year $117 million OTP program in sporting gadgetry.

2. Physiology of muscle recovery and the hand positioning of downhill skiers.

3. They studied snowflakes, waxes and steel-to-ice interactions. Dartfish video technology to show figure skaters, in minute detail, what they are doing right when landing a perfect quad.

4. Speed skaters trained using a slingshot device specially conceived to launch them through corners.

5. Neuro and bio-feedback equipment to bolster the athletes' psychological preparation. This measures such things as brain activity, reaction times and heart rate as they perform various tasks.

6. Short track skaters have had unfettered access to sports psychologists, dietitians, biomechanical experts, exercise physiologists and sundry athletic and massage therapists. Also, a state-of-the-art padding system at their training center, plus new slash and score-proof racing suits. Add a machine that can quickly reproduce the exact camber and rocker of each competitor's skate blade - a handy thing in a sport where blades break often.

Says Jennifer Heil, defending gold medalist in women's moguls, and a member of Team Usana, "We've had mentoring, the shared experiences of past great Canadian champions and all that really adds up. I think we're all extremely proud to go there as a team."

The Globe notes that beyond the technological developments, things such as confidence, familiarity and national pride may be just as important if Canada is to enjoy the success the Canadian Olympic Committee expects and in some ways demands.

Usana is pleased to supply the athletes who are part of Team Usana, nutritional supplements and other products that support their health, stamina and recovery.

Teams include:
U.S. and Canadian Speed Skating, UK Short Track Skating, U.S. Luge, Canadian Biathlon and Cross Country Skiing.

Individual athletes:
Jennifer Heil, Canada Freestyle Moguls; Jennifer Botterill, Canada Women's Hockey; Adam Pengilly, British Skeleton Association; Julia Murray, Canada Freestyle Ski Cross.

Check out the corporate blog: for details on the athletes.

Since only about half of the activities of the "Own the Podium" have been publicly announced, we know that for this Olympics, Canadian athletes have been given serious support.

The Own the Podium program for athletes, makes me realize that I need to be accessing more tools to be an elite business person as well, and take every opportunity to learn from the best.

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