Tag Archives: ‘pushed

Quebec’s $100M mental health funding announcement pushed up in wake of sword attack in capital

In his first public address since a sword attack that killed two people in Quebec’s capital on Halloween, Premier François Legault says the province will invest more time and money into improving mental health services. 

“What happened on Saturday night is appalling,” Legault said at a news conference Monday morning. “It’s hard to understand how such violence can occur. It raises questions about mental illness.”

“We can reduce the impacts for certain people who have mental illness by offering more services,” he said.   

When announcing details of $ 100 million in provincial funding for mental health services Monday afternoon, Lionel Carmant, Quebec’s junior health minister, said he didn’t want to draw any links between the pandemic’s effects on people’s mental health and the attack, but said the government was taking those effects seriously.  

The funding announcement was expected next week, but was pushed ahead in light of the attacks. 

On Sunday, 24-year-old Carl Girouard was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder after allegedly attacking seven people in Old Quebec on Halloween night with a sword while dressed in a medieval outfit. He is expected back in court Thursday. 

Carmant said he also wanted to make sure people don’t confuse mental health issues with mental health illnesses, and said that people who experience either are rarely violent. 

“I think that what happened this weekend was unpredictable and that we can’t make a definitive link to the pandemic.”

A third of the $ 100 million in funding will go toward reducing wait lists for mental health services, both in public health and education settings. There are 16,000 people in line for mental health services, Carmant said. 

Another third of the money will go to improving services in health facilities. Of the rest of the funding, $ 19 million will go to street workers who are part of a team called Sentinelle, whose role is to meet with vulnerable populations, and $ 10 million will go to community organizations providing mental health services. 

Too soon to diagnose suspect, expert says

Though experts say it is too soon to diagnose the suspect in the attacks, some drew comparisons to the trauma experienced in the wake of the Quebec City mosque shooting. Meanwhile, the province also moved to provide psychosocial supports for those affected by the attacks.

Marc-André Lamontagne, a psychologist who interviewed the Quebec City mosque shooter over two days in 2018, said there are some commonalities between the two incidents, namely that they occurred in a public place and people were not expecting to be attacked. 

“But when it comes to motivation, what’s hidden behind the act, the personal history — for now, we don’t know enough to establish resemblance between the two cases,” Lamontagne said. 

University of Ottawa psychology professor Tracy Vaillancourt, who studies the links between mental health and violence as a Canada Tier 1 Research Chair, pointed out that the mosque shooting “was a targeted event — it was directed at individuals because of their religion.”


Streets were blocked off and orange tape was strung up throughout the Old Quebec on Sunday. (Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada)

Police and provincial and municipal officials held a news conference Sunday morning, where Quebec City police said the suspect’s actions show that he likely premeditated the attack, but that the victims were chosen at random. They said Girouard does not have a criminal record, but the suspect did reveal five years ago in a “medical context” that he wanted to commit a violent act.

Vaillancourt said that past history is a better indicator of the likelihood someone would commit a violent act, rather than mental health issues. 

Mental health support crucial, officials say

Describing mental illness as the “biggest safety concern” in major Canadian cities for decades to come, Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume said during Sunday’s news conference that it is becoming increasingly difficult for authorities to manage.

Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault echoed Labeaume’s call for public discussion about mental health Sunday, calling it “a major issue that has perhaps been too long and too often forgotten.”

Manon Massé, co-spokesperson for Québec Solidaire, said COVID-19 public health restrictions “are causing even more distress” than usual. 

Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade said the question of mental health is “at the heart of what we do.”

Monday evening, Labeaume held a news conference saying he welcomed the $ 100-million investment from the provincial government, but was calling for a debate about how mental health services are administered in the province.

“People want to know what innovations there are in how we intervene in mental health; what other places are doing; whether we’re doing things the right way, and can we re-discuss existing laws? People want to understand why mental health feels like a bigger problem than it was 10 or 20 years ago,” Labeaume said. 


Describing it as the “biggest safety concern in major Canadian cities for decades to come,” Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume said mental illness is becoming increasingly difficult for authorities to manage. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada)

Quebec City’s regional health authority is sending an intervention team to provide psychosocial support to citizens of Old Quebec on Monday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the corner of Hébert and Remparts streets, near where the attacks occurred.

The Info-Social 811 line is also available to answer calls for people who need support. 

Labeaume will offer a message of reassurance and comfort to students at the Collège François-de-Laval and the École des Ursulines in Old Quebec, which are also near the scene of Saturday’s attack. Psychological support staff will also be sent to the schools.

Memories of Quebec City mosque shooting

Labeaume said the sword attack reminded him of the mosque shooting that took place at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre just under four years ago in his city. 

Mohamed Labidi, founder and president of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, said he was also reminded of the 2017 attack. 

“These were gratuitous attacks which should never have taken place,” Labidi said, offering his condolences to the families of the victims.  

He said addressing mental health issues is extremely important. 

“The more we address these issues, the more we will have a peaceful society.”

WATCH | Attack evokes memories of 2017 mosque attack:

Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault and Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume say the overnight stabbing in Quebec City reminded them of the 2017 mosque shooting, which killed six people. 1:53

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ExoMars Mission Pushed Back to 2022 Due to COVID-19 Delays

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The ExoMars program, a joint effort between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia’s Roscosmos, has had its fair share of setbacks. One of the primary components of its first mission failed to deploy on Mars, and now the second phase has been pushed back. According to ESA director general Jan Woerner, testing on the Rosalind Franklin rover won’t be complete in time for the summer 2020 launch due in part to the expanding coronavirus epidemic. 

In 2016, the first ExoMars mission reached the red planet. The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) functioned as planned, allowing operators to collect new data on the composition of Mars’ atmosphere. However, the Schiaparelli lander released from TGO didn’t function correctly. It jettisoned its parachute too early and only fired its descent thrusters for a few seconds before crashing into the surface. 

Schiaparelli was going to be a stationary lander, but the Rosalind Franklin rover will be able to move around the surface and gather much more data. So, the ESA and Roscosmos are understandably committed to making sure all the systems are fully tested before launch. The hardware still needs to undergo numerous tests, and the ESA no longer believes it has enough time to get it done. 

Europe is currently experiencing high levels of COVID-19 spread, and that has reduced the number of people able to travel to work on the project. These delays wouldn’t stop the ESA from launching the mission, but it can’t complete all the testing it would like in time. 

The delay until 2022 is not based on any element of the COVID-19 outbreak. The team simply knows it’s going to miss the summer launch window. Most mars missions launch during times when Earth and Mars are close to each other in their orbits. That’s why NASA aims to launch the Perseverance rover this summer. The next alignment of the planets comes between August and October 2022, so that’s when the ESA and Roscosmos will plan to give this another shot. In the meantime, they’ll have plenty of time to complete rover testing. 

When it finally reaches Mars, the Rosalind Franklin rover will travel around the Oxia Planum region to search for signs of ancient life. The ESA and Roscosmos hope the rover will operate for at last seven months on Mars.

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Christine Sinclair on Abby Wambach: ‘She pushed me to levels I didn’t think were possible’

Sports·Video

After becoming international soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer, Christine Sinclair spoke about the impact Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach had on her career.

After becoming international soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer, Christine Sinclair spoke about the impact Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach had on her career. 1:10

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McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook pushed out over relationship with employee

McDonald’s chief executive officer has been pushed out of the company after violating company policy by engaging in a consensual relationship with an employee, the corporation said Sunday.

The fast food giant said former president and CEO Steve Easterbrook demonstrated poor judgment, and that McDonald’s forbids managers from having romantic relationships with direct or indirect subordinates.

In an email to employees, Easterbrook acknowledged he had a relationship with an employee and said it was a mistake. 

“Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on,” Easterbrook said, in the email.

McDonald’s board of directors voted on Easterbrook’s departure Friday after conducting a thorough review. Details of Easterbrook’s separation package will be released Monday in a federal filing, according to a company spokesperson. He will also be leaving the company’s board. Easterbrook was CEO since 2015.

McDonald’s would not provide details about the employee with whom Easterbrook was involved, and an attorney for Easterbrook declined to answer questions.

The board of directors named Chris Kempczinski, who recently served as president of McDonald’s USA, as its new president and CEO.


The McDonald’s board of directors named Chris Kempczinski, who recently served as president of McDonald’s USA, as its new president and CEO. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)

Two weeks ago, McDonald’s reported a two per cent drop in net income for the third quarter as it spent heavily on store remodeling and expanded delivery service. The company’s share price has dropped 7.5 per cent since, though it’s still up 9.2 per cent for the year. The burger chain also has been plagued by declining restaurant traffic.

The leadership transition is unrelated to the company’s operational or financial performance, the company said in a news release.

McDonald’s decision to act may be a sign of progress on workplace issues that have come to light in the #MeToo era, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.


Easterbrook is seen at McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago on Sept. 19. Easterbrook became the fast food giant’s CEO in 2015. (Alyssa Schukar/AP Images for McDonald’s)

“Other companies don’t always act on that kind of information or fire their CEO for that, and so it seems like they trying to enforce a pretty strict policy in this situation,” Tobias said.

Among other challenges at its restaurants, McDonald’s has faced workplace harassment charges. In May, McDonald’s said it was enhancing training and offering a new hotline for workers after a labour group filed dozens of sexual harassment charges against the company.

Fight for $ 15, the group which filed the charges, said McDonald’s response to its sexual harassment complaints has been inadequate, and “the company needs to be completely transparent about Easterbrook’s firing and any other executive departures related to these issues.”

Kempczinski joined McDonald’s in 2015. He was responsible for approximately 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. He was instrumental in the development of the company’s strategic plan and oversaw the most comprehensive transformation of the U.S. business in McDonald’s history, said Enrique Hernandez, chair of McDonald’s board, in a statement.

Kempczinski described Easterbrook as a mentor.

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Long hours, emotional toll pushed tissue bank specialist to leave New Brunswick

During her time as a certified tissue bank specialist in New Brunswick, Parise Léger commonly worked more than 30 hours in a stretch.

At one point, Léger said, she was one of only two specialists assigned to collect tissue donations, such as bones, tendons, heart valves and occasionally corneas, from anywhere in the province.

But after four years on the job, the long hours and emotionally draining work drove Léger to leave the province and her job with the New Brunswick organ and tissue program in 2017.

She’s now speaking out after hearing the story of 16-year-old Avery Astle, who died following an Easter long weekend crash.

His parents wanted to donate his organs and tissues, especially his blue eyes, but said they were told no one was available to facilitate the donation at Moncton Hospital.

“I was heartbroken,” said Léger, who now lives in Nova Scotia.


Avery Astle was 16 years old when he died the morning of April 21, after a car crash in Miramichi. Three of his friends — Logan Matchett, Emma Connick and Cassie Lloyd — also died as a result of the crash. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

But according to Léger, it’s not a recent problem. It’s one she flagged to management at Horizon Health Network as recently as 2016.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s still happening in 2019, when the province was made aware that there was a staff shortage and a big problem in New Brunswick when it came to the tissue division.”

Last week, Horizon said there are gaps in its tissue donation coverage, citing “recent turnover within the tissue team.” The gap doesn’t affect its organ donation team, which is a separate division of the program.

“Until our newly recruited team members have been fully trained, there may be times when we are unable to provide the service,” the health authority said in a written statement.

Long hours on the road

Léger said the tissue team, which is primarily based in Moncton, was rarely fully staffed at four during her four years on the job.

The staffing problems were brought up “numerous times” to management in Horizon, but according to Léger, nothing changed. She said the program should have had enough staff to cover 30 days, while also allowing those staff members to have a work-life balance.

During her time as a certified tissue bank specialist in New Brunswick, Parise Léger commonly worked more than 30 hours in a stretch, for 22 days a month. 1:00

Léger estimated this would have required six to eight staff to cover the whole province, so it wouldn’t just be the same staff members on call all the time.

As a specialist on the tissue team, Léger was required to take nearly two years of training to be certified by the American Association of Tissue Banks.

Her job usually consisted of working four days in the office, working on charts or processing tissue donations. Then she would be on call for 20 to 22 days on average.

After a death was reported, the tissue team would be called in if the person qualified for tissue donation. The person on call would then call a nurse and go through the chain of events leading to the death to learn more about the donor’s eligibility, Léger said.


Human tissue is stored in quarantine here in this lab. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

“From then on, if they (the donor) qualify, we would contact the family and obtain consent,” Léger said.

It could mean travelling from her home in Moncton to as far away as Edmundston on a moment’s notice, then spending hours with families or in the operating room, collecting tissues.

Typically, Horizon Health Network would pay for a car to drive the technician if they were going more than an hour or two away and had already worked long hours.

A ‘complex’ problem

Last week, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs questioned whether it’s possible to have round-the-clock donation service across the province.

“I don’t think it’s realistic to say it’s possible all over the province, 24/7, but I don’t know that for a fact,” Higgs said.


Premier Blaine Higgs has questioned whether it’s possible to have 24-7 coverage for tissue donation in the province. (Radio-Canada)

“But I have asked, we’ve had the discussions, [Health Minister Ted Flemming] wants to understand it as well and he’s asked the department to understand.”

It’s a question Mary Gatien wrestled with as director of the New Brunswick Organ and Tissue Program, a job she retired from last year after 25 years.

“Under the current staffing, and the model that most banks have, to every person in the province it’s probably not realistic,” said Gatien, now a quality consultant with the ocular division of the program.

According to Gatien, the program struggles with both retention and funding. Training someone to be a specialist can take upwards of 18 months.

But the nature of the job coupled with long hours make keeping those employees challenging.

“You can put a lot of money into the program, but it does not guarantee staff retention,” she said.

Neither Gatien nor Horizon Health Network could provide details on the program’s current budget before deadline.

You could have technicians working as nurses in the hospital and then pull them off the floor when there’s a potential donor, but that would leave the hospital short-staffed, Gatien said.

But having someone dedicated to collection full time could also be challenging in small or rural hospitals, where days might pass before there’s a potential donor.


Mary Gatien was director of the New Brunswick organ and tissue program for 25 years, until her retirement in 2018. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

“To pay an RN, it’s $ 90,000, so if they’re in a small hospital and they’re dedicated to this, what do they do when there’s no donor?” Gatien said.

Donors could also be processed in one central area, which could make things simpler for staffing, but not everyone would want to have loved ones moved to another area. Plus, according to Gatien, the transport could affect the quality of the tissue.

“It’s a very complex situation and it’s a complex problem,” she said.

Gatien said the current gap opened after the retirement of several senior staff members. Horizon Health Network could not provide the number of times someone has wanted to donate tissue and no one was available to collect it.

The current director of the program was not made available for an interview.

A mental toll

While the job could be physically exhausting, it also took a mental toll on Léger.

The job involved talking to families “on their worst day.” Sometimes they were still in shock, she said.

“Sometimes, you’re the first person that they talk to, they haven’t talked to family yet,” Léger said.

There wasn’t always an opportunity to debrief after each donation, Léger said, so the tissue team members relied on each other for support.


Léger said she decided to take her health into her own hands when she left her job with the New Brunswick organ and tissue program in 2017. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC)

Léger said her breaking point came at the end of 2016, when her family and friends started noticing the toll it was taking on her. She was always on the road and “always tired.” She decided to take her health into her own hands.

“Coming back in January, I just found that I was stressed to the point of being burned out,” she said.

“I went to see my family physician and I went on sick leave for a couple months.”

She gave her notice to leave her job in April 2017, moving to Ontario to take a job with the Trillium Gift of Life Network.

Now in Dartmouth, N.S., she’s no longer working in tissue donation. But she continues to be passionate about the issue, and would like to see the province add more funding to the program.

Léger said she was “speechless” to hear the premier question whether it’s realistic to have round-the-clock coverage.

“When we’re talking about no coverage on holidays and long weekends, it’s a huge problem,” she said.

“I think that there should be coverage 365 days of the year.”

While tissue donations aren’t necessarily life saving, like an organ donation, they can change a person’s life, Gatien said.

A tissue transplant could reduce pain and increase mobility for someone who has been in a car accident, or who has a hip replacement or torn the ACL, a key ligament that stabilizes the knee, for example.

“It is, and I’ll quote a family, a feeling that cannot be put in words,” Gatien said.

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Canada's mogul king pushed off throne as Mikael Kingsbury finishes 5th at World Cup

Mikael Kingsbury's perfect start to the moguls season finally came to an end on Friday.

The Canadian settled for fifth in a World Cup event, marking the first time in five starts Kingsbury, 26, did not finish on top of the podium.

"I had a perfect season so far, so it's a little difficult to accept," Kingsbury said. "But I'm going to do better next week in Tremblant."

The reigning Olympic champ from Deux-Montagnes, Que., finished with 72.93 points.

WATCH | Mikael Kingsbury finishes 5th:

Kingsbury finished fifth in New York on Friday, the first time in five events that he's failed to win on the World Cup circuit. 1:29

Kingsbury had reached the podium in his previous 19 outings in a single mogul event. His last miss also was in Lake Placid when he finished sixth on Jan. 13, 2017.

"I skied well on my first two runs, but in the super final I tried to go a little too big on the top jump and made a stupid mistake," said Kingsbury.

WATCH | Benjamin Cavet takes gold:

Cavet won by more than three points in New York on Friday. 1:23

France's Benjamin Cavet (84.83 points) took gold, Sweden's Walter Wallberg (81.47) was second and Australia's Matt Graham (80.94) was third.

Philippe Marquis of Quebec City was eighth.

On the women's side, Canada also had two top-10 finishers. Chloe Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal was seventh and Sofiane Gagnon of Whistler, B.C., was eighth.

WATCH | Australian Jakara Anthony tops moguls podium in New York:

Anthony finished almost four points ahead of the silver medal winner in Lake Placid on Friday. 1:23

"It was a good day in some ways, not so good in others," Dufour-Lapointe said. "I worked on some things this week, especially on corks, but today the mix wasn't quite right."

Jakara Anthony of Australia won, Perrine Laffont of France was second and American Tess Johnson captured bronze.

The World Cup moguls circuit heads to Mont-Tremblant, Que., next week.

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Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino's Prison Date Pushed to 2019: 'He's Nervous But Resolved to See This Through'

Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s date to check himself into prison has been moved back to 2019, ET has learned.

Henry Klingeman, Sorrentino’s attorney, says he filed a request on behalf of the Jersey Shore: Family Vacation star to have his prison sentence begin after the holidays so he’d be able to spend that time with family. The judge allowed the request. This means that the 36-year-old will have to check himself in on Jan. 15, 2019.

According to Klingeman, his client is “doing great under the circumstances. He’s nervous but resolved to see this through as he has been since he got sober.”

Earlier this month, Sorrentino was sentenced to eight months in prison and two years of supervised release for tax evasion. Following his sentencing on Oct. 5, Sorrentino shared an optimistic message with fans and friends.

We are very happy to put this behind us. Thank you So much for all the Love & Support,” he captioned a photo of himself outside the federal courthouse with his Jersey Shore co-stars including Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Vinny Guadagnino, Deena Cortese, Pauly “DJ Pauly D” DelVecchio, Jenni “JWoww” Farley, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro and Angelina Pivarnick.

Less than a week later, Sorrentino revealed that he and his fiancée, Lauren Pesce, will be getting married on Nov. 1.

“#Thehitchuation is happening November 1st, 2018. I will be marrying @lauren_pesce My rock , my best friend, my better half & my soul mate . You are my everything & I am so excited to call you Mrs Situation 👰 #gymtanlaurens,” he captioned a photo of Pesce giving him a peck on the cheek.

 The pair met in college and got engaged in April.

Get more news on Sorrentino down below.

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Chrissy Teigen’s Daughter Luna Says She ‘Pushed a Boy’ on the First Day of School

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s daughter, Luna Stephens, has just started school and already she’s causing trouble!

Her 32-year-old mom first shared a sweet photo of the 2-year-old cutie on her first day, looking at a photo album to her Instagram account on Wednesday. 

“First week of school,” Teigen captioned the shot with a crying emoji. “They had us make a little family photo album she can look at when she’s sad or upset. She loves it. My heart ksosksodododosksidojsjskodmskzh.” 

Luna looks adorable for her first day, rocking a floral dress, jean jacket, and pink hair bows. She recently returned from a family trip to Bali with her little brother, Miles, 3 months. 

But it was her at-school antics that really had Teigen panicking. The model shared a video of her little girl, simply captioning it, “GUYS,” with three crying emojis. 

In the clip, Teigen asked her daughter what she did that day.

“I fell down my forehead,” Luna says. 

“No, that was in Bali,” Teigen tells her. “What’d you do today?”

“I pushed,” Luna says.

“Who’d you push?” Teigen asks.

“I pushed a boy!” Luna proudly declares.

Looks like this one is going to be a trouble maker and a heart breaker! 

The family recently returned from a picturesque vacation in Bali. Teigen documented a lot of her family’s travels on social media, but that doesn’t mean she’s necessarily tech savvy. 

Watch the clip below to see what happened when she accidentally went live on Instagram! 

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With the Olympics underway, scientists ask whether the human body can be pushed any further

Anson Henry is a two-time Olympian. The sprinter knows what it’s like to push his body to its limit on the world stage.

“There’s a lot of luck that comes into play. A lot of timing that is out of your control. And you’ve just got to do what you can within your own training so that you can have your best performance every four years at the right time.”

But as the Winter Olympics begin in Pyeongchang, some scientists are wondering how much faster, higher and stronger human beings can get?

One recent study, published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, concluded that — after more than a century of pushing the boundaries of our bodies — a plateau has been reached for both sexes.

The researchers analyzed athletic performance data going back to the start of the 20th century. After more than 70 years of record-breaking trends, performance starting levelling off in the 1980s.

Simply put, our bodies have peaked. And that may mean fewer world records will be smashed in the coming years.

“This suggests that modern societies have allowed our species to reach its limits. We are the first generation to be aware of this,” wrote co-author Dr. Jean-Franç​ois Toussaint, a cardiologist and professor of physiology at Paris Descartes University.

At McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., kinesiology professor Stuart Phillips understands what it takes for the body to max out its potential. He holds a Canada Research Chair in skeletal muscle health and is an expert in athletic performance.

Phillips watches as his student, Sara Oikawa, puts on an oxygen mask, steps aboard a stationary bike, and starts to pedal. It’s a test Phillips says can accurately predict how far she can push her body.

Stu Phillips

Peak performance is not only a matter of biology, says kinesiologist Stu Phillips. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

“It’s an acute example of measuring peak performance — the peak at which her body can operate and take up oxygen — and will be dictated at a point where her muscles can no longer generate the power output to turn the pedals here,” he says.

A number’s game

Phillips says he believes that athletes in some sports, such as track and field, may be approaching the height of what their bodies can do. However, there will still be ways to shave nanoseconds off of records, he says. And that’s because performance isn’t just a matter of biology.

“It’s a numbers game. It’s about aligning the right genes with the right time and then the right physiology with the right mental makeup as well,” he says.

Sochi Olympics Medals Ceremony Freestyle Skiing Women

After she won gold for women’s freestyle slopestyle at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Canadian skier Dara Howell felt she may have reached the top of her game. (Morry Gash/Associated Press)

Dara Howell hopes her numbers come up again in Pyeongchang. In 2014, she won the first Olympic gold medal in ski slopestyle. But after the excitement wore off, she started to doubt herself.

“Definitely, post Olympics, I thought I had peaked.”

Howell stepped away from the sport for awhile — until she realized there are more goals to pursue.

“I’ve grown so much in strength. ​Physically and mentally I feel in the best shape I’ve ever been in. Mentally I feel just solid. I feel I understand the ebbs and flows a bit better.”

So while scientists can crunch numbers and conclude that humankind is reaching its athletic capacity, how do competitors know when their best days are behind them?

Stuart Phillips says a lot of it comes down to instinct. “I do think athletes have a fair sense of where that is. They know what it feels like. They know mentally what the rehearsal requires to get them to that stage.”

Anson Henry

When you think about your athletic limit, you might be at your limit, says former Olympic sprinter Anson Henry. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Anson Henry says he knew his sprinting days were over soon after the Beijing Games in 2008. It was getting harder and harder for him to maintain an optimal level, both physically and mentally.

“When you think about your limits, you might be at your limit,” he says.

Redefine success in sports

Researchers say that if athletes have maximized their performance levels, we may have to change how we define success in sports. Organizers will have to create new categories of records or change the rules.

However that doesn’t mean fans should resign themselves to duller sporting events.

As Henry points out, there’s still an elusive X factor that comes into play. Performance does plateau, but there are other aspects to a competition as well, he says.

“Breaking records is entertaining, but there is that anticipation that if everyone is at their peak, who’s going to be able to rise to the occasion that day?”

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Disney May Have Pushed EA to Pull Battlefront II Pay-to-Win Loot System Last Week

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Last week, EA found itself in hot water as the official launch of Star Wars: Battlefront II approached. After first attempting to justify making players spend 40 hours unlocking a single hero, the company slashed hero prices, cut rewards and put a time-limited lockout on how many credits you could earn in a day when using Arcade Mode (undoing the impact of slashing prices), and appeared resolute in the face of mounting criticism.

Battlefront II was going to launch with a loot system that relied entirely on loot crates and pay-to-win mechanics, in which how well you competed in-game was mostly dependent on whether you were willing to buy enough loot crates to get (completely random) gear drops that favored your preferred class or scenario. And then EA blinked.

Suddenly, the pay-to-win system EA had spent the week defending and promising to tweak in response to player feedback was gone. In its place, a temporary shutdown to the pay-to-win economy. We say temporary, because EA claims it still has every intention of reenabling it, but there’s no word yet on when that’ll happen. And interestingly, it looks like we might have the House of Mouse to thank. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports that Disney executives were “upset at how online outrage over the costs of gaining access to popular characters such as Luke Skywalker reflected on their marquee property.”

BF2-Loot-Crate

Disney has been fairly quiet on the topic, stating only that it supported EA’s decision to temporarily remove the pay-to-win system. But there’ve been signs that all wasn’t perfect, even within DICE. Last week, during the disastrous AMA, EA DICE multiplayer producer Paul Keslin wrote, “Lots of people told us we shouldn’t do this as it wasn’t going to go like we hope it would.” Hrm. Listening to those “lots of people” might be a good way to prevent this from happening again.

Read the reviews on Battlefront II, including the ones published after this change, and the loot system is still a major problem. In most games, including previous Battlefield titles, you earn experience towards unlocking new capabilities or gear for your class by playing that class. But the only loot system in Battlefront II is loot crates, and loot crate rewards are random. You could play for hours and walk away with nothing to show for it. This might be working as intended from the perspective of an EA executive who wanted to see gamers shelling out real cash for digital goods, but it’s not a great way to build interest or incentives around your game.

There’s something remarkably disingenuous in the way companies often cloak their own terrible decisions in the language of “learning” something, as if somehow, nobody at DICE or EA had even the foggiest notion that gamers might not appreciate being forced to grind for thousands of hours to unlock desired in-game content. It’s a farcical argument on its face. No one thinks being steamrolled by players with vastly better gear is fun, yet this is what Battlefront II players were being asked to accept if they didn’t want to shuck out even more money. You don’t have to be a game developer (or hate EA) to see how playing for thousands of hours to unlock content that ought to have been in the game to start with constitutes a problem.

There’s a genuine problem with how game development is funded these days and the huge gap between a $ 60 base price and the nine-figure development costs that some games now flit with. Disney is no angel in this regard — it simply wanted to protect its investment into Star Wars rather than risk seeing unhappy blowback that could impact The Last Jedi‘s theater run (not that this is likely to happen). But if EA wants to prosper in a brave new world of alternative game monetization, it needs to come up with a way of doing it that doesn’t ask players to feed a loot mechanic that’s been deliberately turned into a grindfest as a means of extracting maximum revenue.

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