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The Science of Winning at Sochi: Researchers Offer Unique Insights Into the Performance of Canadian Athletes in Sochi

OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 02/03/14 -- Only a few days remain until Canada's Olympic athletes begin competing in Sochi, Russia. Researchers supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) can offer insights into the many factors - from training and equipment to psychology and nutrition - that have brought these elite athletes to the games and which could influence their performance. Here are a few CFI-funded researchers who are available to comment on the science behind winning at Sochi.

- What do Canadian speed skater Olivier Jean and snowboarder Caroline Calve have in common? Aside from the fact that they'll all be competing in Sochi, they also all train with NeuroTracker, a computer program developed by world-leading neuroscientist Jocelyn Faubert at the Universite de Montreal that measures and improves cognitive performance in sports by challenging athletes to track many targets at high speeds on a large, 3-D screen. According to Faubert, by doing exercises that target this mental ability, athletes gain a greater competitive edge.

- Canada's Olympic athletes have to be not only physically ready to compete but also, perhaps more importantly, they have to be mentally prepared to perform at their best during the highest-octane sporting event in the world. Robert Schinke, a sport psychology professor at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., and a former professional equestrian, is a mental coach who guides Olympic hopefuls through his gruelling four-year plan to get them to the games mentally ready and able. Schinke says the most successful athletes are also the most self-aware and resilient.

- The nutritional needs of athletes competing in Sochi are scientifically planned for maximum performance. Speed skater Charles Hamelin, for example, takes in 6,000 calories per day, three times the recommended number for the average spectator. McMaster University's Stuart Phillips helped draft the International Olympics Committee's Consensus Statement on Sports Nutrition for the Vancouver 2010 games and is an expert on how exercise and dietary protein interact to either build or deplete muscle. The Hamilton-based researcher can comment on what is involved in eating for optimal performance.

- Tim Walzak at Camosun College's Sport Innovation and Research Centre in Victoria has developed sensor systems that track and measure Olympic athletes' performance as they prepare for the games in Sochi. By linking the data they collect from the sensors to high definition video, coaches and athletes can study the direct link between the athlete's biomechanical responses and their immediate effects on performance. This turn-key package of information will provide coaches and athletes with an unprecedented view of their performance and ultimately help them refine their techniques.

These are just a few angles for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games that CFI-funded researchers are prepared to discuss. For additional stories, contact our media relations contacts below.

About the Canada Foundation for Innovation

The Canada Foundation for Innovation gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada's universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI is helping to attract and retain the world's top talent, to train the next generation of researchers, to support private-sector innovation and to create high-quality jobs that strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians. For more information, visit Innovation.ca.

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