Tag Archive | "canmore"

New Rundle Sport Inc. Innovates with RUNDLESKI Suspension Equipped Rollerski

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June 26, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – Rundle Sport Inc. is a new company based in Canmore, AB, that has introduced an innovative new rollerski to the market, RUNDLESKI™. The three co-owners, Hugues Wanlin, Alain Parent, and Andrew Hicks, take care of designing, machining, testing, marketing, and assembling the RUNDLESKI™, which features their novel suspension system.

The patented RUNDLESKI™ was designed with two goals in mind: to reduce road vibration transmitted to the skier, and to simulate the feeling of compressing a skate ski on snow. According to Rundle Sport the suspension system of the RUNDLESKI™ significantly reduces the fatigue and strain on the athlete’s legs. It also minimizes the rollerskis from skipping and chatter by maintaining consistent ground contact. The rollerskis offer a maximum of 16mm of suspension with nine levels of stiffness and three options for wheel speed preference – check out the vids below and visit the site here.

 

 

Cross Country Canada’s Inside Edge Episode 8 – 2013-14 Early Season Testing

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May 31, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – We are excited to bring you Cross Country Canada’s “Inside Edge” video series. With action, interviews, strategy and much more, Inside Edge gives you unprecedented access to our National Ski Team as it takes on the world’s best.

In this eighth episode of The Inside Edge, we take an inside look into Senior World Cup Team early season testing on the roller ski treadmill. Athletes Devon Kershaw, Perianne Jones, Ivan Babikov and Len Valjas talk about their goals for the season ahead.

Thanks to our partners at Twin Zebra Productions. More episodes coming soon! To view Episodes 1-8 click HERE.

The Inside Edge Episode 8: 2013-14 Early Season Testing

Kershaw Report – Spring 2013

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April 22, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – The 2012/13 racing season is now long over. The snow, clinging desperately to the mountains, rocks and trees, is in deep discussions, begging to let go, turn to water, spurring the “actual” beginning of next season – one of growth, new beginnings and if you are me – debilitating allergies: spring.

Spring is losing here in Canmore as of now. Snowstorms still blow through the valley and the ski touring is still light’s out delicious in the ranges behind the Bow Valley. But winter is waging a losing battle and while all good things come to an end – so too will the snowy peaks, cold temperatures and well, winter.

Speaking of winter – it’s no secret that I envisioned last season going better. I was coming off a career best season in 2011/12. Those feelings of winning World Cups, finishing 2nd overall and 2nd in the distance cup were definitely fresh in the mind. Throughout the training season I was feeling stronger, fitter and faster physically for months on end – even though emotionally I could have been categorized easily by any high school girl within 30 seconds of hanging out with me as “a total mess.” I can admit it. Still though – I was sure that this year I was going to be able to take that next, last little step needed after the strong foundation laid in 2011/12.

Instead, back in November I took a little step in the wrong direction – on a stronger concrete foundation in the shape of stairs – and tore a ligament in my foot. Not the best move only a week out from the season opener. I let myself get the better of myself – if you follow that – and instead of taking a step back and recovering fully I pushed on – taping it, getting therapy, icing it and wishing with all my energy that it’d heal magically.

It didn’t and for the first 8 weeks of the racing season I had plenty of reminders that sometimes no amount of wishing and hoping can combat reality. I kept it within the team and asked that the team not discuss it publically. I guess I was just so motivated and hungry to have a good season, that if people started talking about it – it would get more real. It’s hard to explain if you aren’t an athlete and maybe you don’t understand, but I felt as though if I was racing – even if it hurt – then it wasn’t a huge deal….

As the winter rolled on, the results remained disappointing. I had some glimmers of “ok” feelings – a few top tens, 12th overall at the Tour de Ski, 4th at the World Championships with Alex in the team sprint – but on the whole I just wasn’t feeling myself. Gone were the weekends of winning and on the podium. Coupled with the torn ligament, I contracted some rough food poisoning in France that reoccurred three more times from mid January to late February which wasn’t a barrel of laughs either.

These aren’t excuses – I know that I made some mistakes in my training season, we made some mistakes with regards to my race calendar, and some other smaller ones along the way, too, that seemed to have a bigger impact that we thought. I take full responsibility for that – but it wasn’t the best to having health issues on top of that. At this level, it’s a precarious place to hang out – between success and failure. Everything needs to come together and sometimes things just don’t work out the way you planned or wanted them to for whatever reason.

The last month of the season continued to be tough. I had some more stomach issues early at the World Championships – which translated into one race where I felt good (the team sprint with Alex). After the World Championships – the spring World Cup was a rough period for our team too – as we just weren’t able to deliver the results and good feelings that we’d become accustomed to when the World Cup heads back to Scandinavia in the spring.

Looking back, it’s amazing that we had the success we had at the World Championships at all – which I think speaks volumes of our team as a whole (staff, athletes, techs, everyone). Alex won a historic bronze in classic sprint – traditionally one of his weakest events. Babs was 4th in the 15km skate, and Alex and I finished agonizingly close to the bronze – 4th – in the team sprint.

Now it’s time to inject some positivity – the cool and simply reality of spring is that things melt and start growing again. Those feelings of disappointment are melting away – we’ve had great discussions about what we did, what we can do better, and what we’ll do moving forward and I’m 100% confident that we still have a great team and new plan moving forward.

I was pretty tired emotionally/mentally upon arriving in Canada and I’ve spent most of my time in the mountains back country skiing – healing the mind and letting go of all the disappointment. I’ve got out 14 days of the last 20, which has been both fantastic and rejuvenating. For me, in the spring time there’s nothing better than backcountry skiing – you are way back in some mountain range with just you and your buddies, no internet, phone, nothing – it’s simplicity at it’s best and it’s amazing.

Up next in the two-pronged “get ready to rock and roll” is the “real” rest – as I’m off to Maui tomorrow to check in on Lenny’s tan – kidding! It’ll be awesome to get some vitamin D, eat some delicious fish and tropical fruit, get completely thrashed in the waves and vibe out. I know that after that I’ll be 100% ready to go for the Olympic training year. Hard to believe that this quadrennial came and went so quickly. I have some unfinished business there after finishing 4th and 5th in the last Games in Vancouver – so this year will be about simplifying things, training well, making good decisions and enjoying it.

We’ll learn, adjust and attack going forward. My good friend and Canadian sports psych’ extraordinaire likes to quote Andre Agassi’s “I can live with disappointment, but I can’t live with regret.” Damn right. I was disappointed with how the season went – no question. But I don’t regret it. I did what I thought was best at the time – it ended up being wrong. I made mistakes, I’m learning from them, and I’m fired up moving forward.

Lao Tzu wrote, “Succeeding is the coming together of all things beautiful and perseverance is the foundation of all actions.” I couldn’t agree more.

Enjoy your spring everyone and thanks for the support!

Devon

Canmore Winter Meltdown 2013 Alberta Winter Triathlon Provincials – Mar. 23

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March 11, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – The 2013 Alberta Winter Triathlon Provincials take place on Saturday, March 23 at the Canmore Nordic Center. There will be full-distance, novice distance, and duathlon events. Course will be on the packed ski trails at the Canmore Nordic Center. Expect to ski bike and run on snow! Great Draw Prizes for Competitors and Volunteers.

Start: 9:30am
Location: Canmore Nordic Centre
Events:
– Full Distance: 10km Cross-Country Ski, 10km Mountain Bike, 5km Run. Categories: Individual – Male & Female Pro/Expert and Age Group categories. Relay – Male, Female & Mixed
– Novice Distance: 4-5km Cross-Country Ski, 5km Mountain Bike, 5km run
– Duathlon: 5km Run, 10km Mountain bike, 5km Run

More info at www.canmorewintermeltdown.com

REGISTRATION FOR 2013 HERE!

Interview w/Canadian Biathlete Rosanna Crawford

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January 09, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – Rosanna Crawford, the 24-year-old biathlete from Canmore, Alberta has had the most successful world cup start of her career thus far, regularly finishing in the top 30 and just out of the top ten at the Pokljuka World Cup Sprint with a career-high 12th-place finish.  SkiTrax caught up with Crawford as she prepared to return to Europe for the next rounds of World Cup racing and the World Championships to talk about her breakout season, how she spent the holiday break, and what she expects for the rest of the season.
How satisfied are you with your performance for the first part of the season?
Rosanna Crawford: I am really happy with how the start of the season went. My goal had been to get a couple top 30’s but after Sweden to be making top-30 every race and getting a top-12 was pretty exciting.
Has your skiing been what you expected?  How about your shooting?
RC: My skiing has improved a lot since last year and I am happy with how things are shaping up. I usually get faster as the season goes on. Shooting has been better than last year but still not where I want it to be. I think my shooting average is 81% and to be around 86% or 87% would be ideal for me.
What have you been up to since the last World Cup in Pokljuka, Slovenia?
RC: Since I got home I spent some time with my family and boyfriend and enjoyed the amazing Canmore Nordic Centre. Brendan [Green] and I also spent two nights up at Mt. Engadine lodge up the Spray Valley, which was incredible! It got pretty cold here over Christmas, so there was a lot of -25 classic skis!
What do you want to improve on during this next block of World Cup racing?
RC: For this next block of racing I would like to improve my shooting percentage in the four-bout races. And keep working on consistent loop times.
What are your expectations heading into the World Championships in Nove Mesto?
RC: For World Champs right now I am focusing on what I can control, trying not to think too much about results, but the process of biathlon. I think a good goal would be top 30’s and shooting average of 85%. I didn’t attend the World Cup race there last year, but it was tough shooting conditions – really windy and foggy. I’m flying over on Sunday and our first race will be the relay in Ruhpolding on Wednesday!
Good luck in the rest of your season.
RC: Cheers.

Alberta World Cup Academy to Host Dinner and Auction Fundraiser – Feb. 15

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December 26, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – The Alberta World Cup Academy is hosting a Taste of Winter – a dinner and silent auction fundraiser with proceeds going towards the program. The event features a four-course dinner with wine pairings and a Alberta World Cup Academy silent auction fundraiser. The meal will be presented by Chefs de Cuisine Edan Lange, Stefan Kuhn, and Darrell Greig with wines selected by Sommelier Jaz Nadeau of Canmore Wine Merchants. Registration is $75 at www.zone4.ca. More details HERE.

Diggins Report – What Eurosport Doesn’t Show You

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December 24, 2012 – I finally got time to sit down and load up a bunch of pictures I’ve taken the past few days… and I realized that there’s a lot going on in a World Cup weekend that the TV doesn’t show you. So, here’s some of the World Cup scene the way I see it!

Simply put, CHEERING. IS. HARD. WORK. You have to walk up to the venue hours early to get a good spot, put on a ton of facepaint, make up incredible posters… and my family and friends were up to the challenge! (the Go Team USA poster is currently residing in our wax cabin here in Canmore). To the fans out standing on their feet for hours and losing their voices: you make a difference. You really do!

FIS usually puts out drinks and snacks for the athletes, coaches and wax techs, the latter of which put in these ridiculous long hours at the venue. Next they’ll have to put futons in the wax cabins so they can get some rest! I’m only half joking here. But in Quebec (and most everywhere) the venue had a really nice warm tent.

And then there’s a lot of goofing off and joking around that isn’t always caught on camera. But when it is, it’s awesome.

Because the wax cabins in Quebec were a little ways away from the actual race course and we didn’t want to be running around the road in our ski boots, we set up a row of spin bikes inside this iron fence next to the start access area.

Given the row of iron spikes at hip level, that fence was very hard to climb safely.

And we felt a lot like zoo animals when the media gathered on the other side of the fence to watch us warming up on the bikes… animals in our “natural habitat”!

So… traveling to Canmore! It was a nice 5-hour flight, and on the way I made friends with the flight attendants. They were super fun to talk to and learn about the work schedule and travel involved in flying for a job… theirs sounded not unlike the crazy schedules of an athlete!

Once we got to Canmore, I was so excited to see all these adorable posters that kids made and stuck in the wax cabins, athlete room, and even along the sides of the road and bike paths! This picture is just one of literally HUNDREDS of posters. AWESOME.

The coffee shops here are also pretty sweet. And by that I mean that every single afternoon we’ve gone to visit one of them.

There’s been a weird cold floating around the team, and last night I opened the hotel door to see Andy giving Sylvan a “get well soon” serenade. The song played? Acoustic version of “Lets Get It On”. He’s a wicked good guitar player and by the time he was finished singing doors all down the hallway were propped open!

I don’t know any other teams that are this much of a family on the road. Just sayin.

The trails in Canmore are:

1. Perfectly groomed. The trackes were… well… perfect!

2. Insanely wide. There were 4 classic tracks and room for a couple skaters in-between. The picture above is actually one of the side trails but the race trails are much bigger.

3. Wicked hard. The race trails have some monster climbs that would be challenging to pace correctly at any altitude, but then the air at 4,500 ft adds a whole new level. At least, when you’re coming off sea level it does!

Check out this huge stadium!

Last but not least – the USST is streaming the races LIVE on their website! Check it out, don’t miss a second of the exciting action: www.usskiteam.com

I’m not racing today because I am not feeling healthy and have to sit it out, which is a major bummer, but hopefully I’ll bounce back in time for the weekend races. In the meantime, please cheer extra loud for my teammates out there this morning!

Heidi Widmer Blog – Party in the Backyard

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December 24, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – The weekend I had been dreaming about all summer and fall has come and passed. Not an ounce of adrenaline was left unused in Canmore as we played host to the World Cup at the Nordic Centre as well as downtown. I put on a bib for the 10km mass start classic, skate sprint and 15km pursuit – meaning I’ve raced more World Cups this season than domestic!?

I can walk away from this weekend knowing I did everything in my power to lay down a good race, but yes, I am disappointed with the outcome. Outcomes or results are always hard to be completely satisfied with. As much as I focus on the process and journey of training and racing, there will always be a result at the end of the day and being able to take something positive from the experience is what I believe the result is there for. How will this result make me better? I can tell you one thing, dwelling on a number on a results page is not how to move forward but learning from the movement, actions and mindset that gave you that result will.

The 10km classic race was my first distance World Cup and being seeded at the back, I felt I had a great opportunity to make my way through the pack. First things first, I needed to be in the pack. Unfortunately, I was way too focused on staying with the pack than I was with skiing the way I needed to. My legs were blown, my lungs fried and mental mindset was just awful. The biggest blow ups seem to happen on the biggest stages and it took every fighting inch of me to finish this race. The fan support on the side of the trail didn’t seem to notice that I was taking up the rear – so I decided not to dwell on that either! Having an extremely hard race like this, however hard to swallow in the moment, was necessary preparation for me for the weekend.

Saturday was sprint day and the buzz of energy that had been brewing in me throughout the summer was about to be let loose! I felt confident, nervous (definitely nervous) and prepared. I raced that course the way I wanted to, the way I had practiced and channeled all the energy of the crowd into propelling me forward. I crossed the line in 31st position, needing a top 30 result to qualify for the sprint heats. It is so bizarre to think about a small fraction of time separating me from the top 30 having such an amplified effect. Taking a tighter line here, pushing harder there and being stronger would all have helped me get to the line a little faster which is what will keep me motivated for the future World Cups. I am getting closer. Slowly but surely. Patience is something I have never been good at but I feel like I have a good thing coming and know it will be worth the wait!

My final result of the day was 34th position but I live vicariously through my teammates today. My bro, Phil, in particular posted his personal best 15th overall on the World Cup. Jess Cockney can’t be left unmentioned either, qualifying 2nd?! So inspiring having fast people around – talent and fitness are contagious right? Or maybe it’s through osmosis that I’ll get my boost.

The last bib of 2012 for me was in the 15km Pursuit. Nervous? Yup. Tired? Definitely. I was adamant that I wouldn’t go out without a fight and was so thankful that I had that within me today. I finished today as the 50th woman across the line and over 6 minutes back from the leader but as far as a distance World Cup goes – it was amazing. I had a fight, put it to good use and gradually picked off racers in the pack. I am really happy with the end to the weekend and will be using this momentum to propel me forward in the next couple weeks of training.

An incredibly HUGE thank you to the support of the volunteers, sponsors, families, friends, community and event organizers for putting on such an amazing show. Canmore has truly made a name for itself on the world stage.

I have some time in the Bow Valley to get in some quality training as we have a break from the racing circuit until the New Year. Our next big races are in Thunder Bay, Ontario for the U23 and World Championship qualification. My performance there will determine the shape of the rest of my season and I couldn’t be more excited about dat.

In the meantime, I have some Christmas crafting to do and training to tackle.

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas!

Gravey’s Grapevine – Thank You Canada

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December 21, 2012 – I arrived back at my Vermont home yesterday from Canmore and the World Cup tour with my mind racing from all manner of things – to be sure, there was some measure of fatigue from the last several weeks of working on the road – but inside it all, my heart was smiling.

I’ve been trying to get my hands around all that I – and we – had witnessed at the Canadian FIS World Cups in Quebec City and Canmore. It was now a time of reflection, for looking back – and for looking forward.

One of the things that struck me about both of the events was the extraordinary enthusiasm of the fans, from both sides of the border. I saw old friends in Quebec City, that I hadn’t seen for years – keen, knowledgeable racing fans that turned the weekend around the old fortress in Quebec into a wonderful, utterly enjoyable cross-country skiing nirvana.

Cheering fans, ski hats, backpacks and flags – and cheering voices – were all that was needed for the price of admission.

In Canmore, I felt blessed to see dear friends I had worked with during the 1988 Olympic Winter Games of Calgary. I hadn’t stepped in the announce booth at Canmore since the last day of the 1988 Games. Some of my buddies looked older, some heavier, including me, and some looked almost the same. It reflected a powerful, shared experience, and our strong sense of camaraderie.

The experiences of both week’s Canadian World Cups, was so wonderful as to be delicious, so joyful to our sense of belonging, that it reminded me how lucky we are that the Canadians have found a way to host these brilliant events, and for those of us Yanks that live near by, are only too happy to come up and cheer. It’s time for us in the USA to host an event sooner rather than later, and pony up for the fine work the Canadians have been doing hosting high level events, like World Cups.

From a sport perspective the events all ran like clockwork, we were entertained and inspired by watching our USA and Canadian athletes successfully challenge and in some cases beat some of the world’s elite. Many others were so close that they are knocking on the door of greatness. Yet, it wasn’t so much about nationalism, but more – in my view – to share an experience that united North Americans in an overwhelming way. Many of us are lucky enough to have treasured skiing friends on both sides of the border. Our respective national teams train together and share a close bond.

Thank you Canada for playing host to these most amazing events that celebrated the best our sport has to offer and the best in the human spirit. I will remember these last two weeks in my heart forevermore.

Fast and Female Thanks Marie-Hélène Thibeault for Tenure as Executive Director, Seeks New Candidate

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December 20, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – The Board of Directors of Fast and Female announces the departure of Marie-Hélène (M&H) Thibeault following more than four years of dedication to the program as Executive Director.

M&H, alumni of the Canadian alpine ski team, started with the organization in 2009. At that time, Fast and Female’s program consisted of a single event in cross country skiing reaching 150 young women.

“It is with mixed emotions that I’m stepping down from my role of Executive Director,” said M&H. “The last four years have been extremely enriching for me and definitively surpassed all my expectations with regards to where this fantastic program could go! Much of this awesomeness was achieved thanks to the amazing ambassadors, colleagues, sponsors, donors, volunteers, and supporters who have all contributed in different ways to helping us empower girls through inspiring programming. I’m extremely proud of where the program is presently and I know it’s in a fantastic position to continue growing and reaching more young women.”

In 2012, Fast and Female hosted more than 25 events in Canada, the US and Australia in a broad variety of sports and impacted more than 1,500 young women and their families. In addition to expanding its signature events for young women ages 9 to 19, Fast and Female’s programming has also grown to feature online content such as Fast and Female TV on You Tube and the Fast and Female Facebook page – all of which are intended to support the retention of young women in sports. A new programming element was recently launched called the Fast and Female Power Hour, which hopes to encourage local clubs to host their own small Fast and Female activities to help support the athletic and personal development of their young female members.

“M&H’s work has been impressive on all fronts, but Kikkan and I feel that her rock-solid prioritization of making a difference in the lives of our participants has been amazing,” said Fast and Female President and Founder, Chandra Crawford. “Her passion for empowering young women through sport has brought our programming to thousands of young women. She brought so many great ambassadors and sponsors on board and grew our community. Her deep caring has always kept us in line with the values that matter most,” added the 2006 Olympic gold medalist in cross country ski racing who launched Fast and Female in 2005 out of a need to see more girls stick to sports.

As an MBA graduate, M&H hopes to return to the corporate world in the Calgary region to apply her skills in marketing, communications, brand and culture development, as well as program management. She also hopes to take advantage of the next months to spend time with her family which includes two young children – Thomas (age 4) and Zoe (age 1).

The Fast and Female Board has launched a global search for a new Executive Director and hopes to have a new person in position by mid to late January.

“As the Board of Directors looks ahead, we are looking to bring on board a new Executive Director who can harness Fast and Female’s inspiring message and empower another generation of girls committed to the healthy lifestyle,” said Ted Kalil, Fast and Female Board member and lead on the recruitment process.

The complete job description can be found HERE. The deadline to submit a résumé and cover letter is January 7, 2013.

“While M&H leaves some highly energetic, well-qualified boots to fill, we are excited about the hiring phase and have a lot of support from our Board of Directors as we search for a new force to keep blazing the Fast and Female trail,” concluded Chandra.

M&H will remain in part-time position until a new Executive Director is in place in January.

The Way I See It! Canmore World Cups, Breaking Down the Barrier, Canadian Team, FIS Live Timing…

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December 17, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Canmore World Cups – Can there be any better place in the world for cross-country racing, blow-away scenery, dynamic courses, skilled and knowledgeable race and organizing committee, and a town that knows what racing and training are all about (they get to see it every day)? This was one exciting weekend of World Cup races. Sponsors and Alberta government got worldwide exposure and helped to spread the word about skiing in Canada.

Having said this last week in my column: Really Quick Evaluation – If you weren’t in the top 30 in Sunday’s race and in the finals in the team sprint on Saturday, it’s time to look at what you are doing – really at what you aren’t doing. For the really young people – 22 yrs and younger, you most likely aren’t doing enough hours and not spending enough time on upper body strength.

There were a lot of NA skiers who made the move this weekend here in Canmore actually there were some huge breakthroughs and it was exciting and fun to watch them take place.

I almost dropped out of my chair when I came back to my computer from letting the dog in and saw that Jesse Cockney had qualified 2nd in the sprint – this was a very, very good sprint field. No fluke here as he progressed to the semi-finals. A big barrier now broken down for him and many others.

Noah Hoffman, not a rookie and has been scoring WC points but skiing in the top 3-4 skiers for most of that 30km race in both techniques – he’s a “big baller” now.

How about Graham Nishikawa – getting on in years has had WC experience, but not like Sunday. I wonder if he scared himself when he saw what he had done…put himself in the lead pack from start to finish and mowed down a few “big baller” guys at the end.

Sadie Bjornson, had an injury-plagued summer and fall and was invisible until late fall (I wrote about this in an earlier column, MIA) both sprinting and distant races she was hunting down WC points. Her teammate Sophie Caldwell was scoring in the sprints and then we may have another star arriving on the scene in Eda (Euro’s say it this way) Ida Sargent as she is smoking the trails both in the long and short races. The US girls team is getting deeper.

Message to Bill Marolt, CEO USST, these guys need more $$$s, they can win medals in Sochii!

Skyler Davis – always wondered how he made it on the US Team – he showed me this weekend. Tad Elliott had to be scratching his head as I’m sure there were times he wished he had stayed on his mountain bike but WC points on Sunday and half of his effort was in classic – his weak technique.

OK you guys, the barrier is down – this was a stronger field then I thought it would be – now you are learning how the game is played. Each time you go out there you have to take chances and make sure you get yourself in position early in those races. Holly Brooks was a perfect example of this in both distance races here in Canmore – she is on the low octane right now, but in the lead group out of the gate – always scoring WC points, but getting them from the front end not coming from the back.

As one of my old coaches use to say, “Go get ’em tiger” – only here it is tigers.

Live Timing (message to FIS) – is the pits, as way more information could be listed on this system, but FIS has always been a conservative organization. The streaming banner that runs across the top of the page could do updates, DNSs, DNFs, snow conditions, track conditions, sponsor advertising, DSQs, promote the next broadcast and times and I’m not even trying to come up with ideas. Talk to us out here in ski racing land, please.

Canadian Team – is in disarray – in these situations it’s always interesting to hear the excuses. Yes, it is a tough schedule but somehow the other 120-130 skiers are scrapping through it. This is a pretty big load for Ivan to be carrying by himself – also, he is a top tenner, but not a podium guy. He has one win to his credit on the WC in Val Di Fiemme in the hill climb in 2009.

Last year the two “big boys” Kershaw and Harvey were slow out of the gate, especially Kershaw, and they’ve done a good job of following that plan again.

The women’s team is doing the same thing it did last year – ducking every distance race they can (coaches direction). Emil Joensson, the Swedish sprinter, is stronger than ever as the last two years he has added way more distance races to his schedule and is leading the overall WC right now.

Four years ago, Kikkan Randlall, was just a sprinter, and dabbled in a few distance races and was nowhere on the overall or sprint cup standing. Simple solution – add more distance races each year – and now she is #2 on the overall WC list and #1 in the sprint cup.

This is so obvious, but the Canadian coaches know better as how to get these ladies in shape and keep them there – no distance races. This will soon lead to not qualifying in the sprints and they will get out of racing shape. There is talent being undeveloped.

It didn’t work last year, why should it work this year?

Talk to You Soon!

Inside the Fence – Canmore Course Preview w/USA’s Bjornsen, Interviews w/Kershaw, Wadsworth and More

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December 13, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Check out the latest edition of  FIS’s Inside the Fence – the Canmore preview. Follow the USA’s Sadie Bjornsen for a lap around the women’s 3.3km classic course, and watch interviews with Vibeke Skofterud, Kristen Stoermer Steira, Devon Kershaw and Justin Wadsworth.

Alberta FIS World Cups – Canmore SET to Welcome the World from Dec. 13-16

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December 12, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – In only a matter of hours the FIS World Cup will roll into a town, into a place steeped in Nordic history. Canmore, the host of the cross-country skiing and biathlon competitions of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games will play host to three exciting days of cross-country skiing competition.

We talked with OC President Ken Hewitt to get an idea about what’s ahead. “At the earlier World Cup’s (2005, 2008) our focus was the “on-snow” aspects of a World Cup such as good tracks, proper stadium, good snow, team accommodations, transportation and communications etc. As we have learned to get those aspects to a reliable state, we have worked to enhance the “off-snow” aspects – the World Cup Festival, spectator experiences, and marketing.

“World Cup 2012 will have a significantly enhanced spectator experience with a new “Spectator Zone” at the end of the stadium, more and larger video displays, in-field entertainment, and improved signage. Also… the Town of Canmore has laid on an impressive “Nordic Festival” to accompany the World Cup — the downtown area will be literally ablaze with activities, and with many specials specifically for World Cup athletes,” Hewitt said in a recent interview.

We asked him about the Quebec World Cups and its impact and he said, “We are seeing that a majority of racers coming to Canmore are sprinters – probably because both of the first two races in Canmore (in Québec) are sprints.

Logistically, there are challenges getting athletes, equipment, timing gear and marketing materials from Québec to Canmore in three days – it’s over 3,300 km,” he said.

As always is the case many volunteers play a major role in making it all happen, “The Competition Committee and Organizing Committee consists of about 45 people. These are the ones who have been working on this event for the past year. We have a dozen contractors in specific roles, and 2 staff. Most important however, are the 470 volunteers who will be working both the race events and the downtown activities,” Hewiit concluded.

Canadian Head Coach Justin Wadsworth told SkiTrax what it’s like competing on-home snows saying “It’s always tough to balance these home World Cups with all the extraneous stuff that goes down, but I believe the athletes will come with better bodies this week, and will fight for some podiums. It’s a new sprint course, so that should be interesting, and one that should suit our team well. Other than that we’re bloody but unbowed,” said Wadsworth.

Checking in with USA Coach Chris Grover he offered his hopes for the Canmore events. “In Canmore, we are expecting the women’s team to continue to carry the momentum that they created all fall,” the Alaska native said, “and we are looking for the men’s squad to make a step forward and realize the kind of results that these guys are capable of.”

Andy Newell said, “… I was happy to be back in the finals in Quebec so I’ll definitely be carrying a little more confidence into the next few races in Canmore. Both my sprint fitness and speed are feeling really good right now so I’m looking forward to getting more chances at racing through the heats. I will also be doing the mass start classic race on Thursday. My distance fitness has improved a lot this year but I haven’t really had a chance to perform at my best in any distance races yet this season so it’s a bit of an unknown. But I’ll give it my best shot on these tough Canmore courses and hopefully come out with a good points race.”

Canmore will be utilizing a new sprint course, 1.3 km in length, and it will be challenging, according to many. The World Cup events are non-ticketed, and shuttle buses will be used to transport fans to the venue as there is no public parking on site.

Hewitt indeed was optimistic about the Canadian squad at Canmore, offering, ” We know already that the majority of racers will be “top 30″ in the world, so the competition will be tough. That said, we also clearly anticipate Canadians on the podium.”

It looks like a series of races that will be too good to miss.

Alberta FIS World Cup 2012 Schedule
– Dec. 13, 2012     10 km C Mst     L
– Dec. 13, 2012     15 km C Mst     M
– Dec. 15, 2012     SP F Qual     L
– Dec. 15, 2012     SP F Final     L
– Dec. 15, 2012     SP F Qual     M
– Dec. 15, 2012     SP F Final     M
– Dec. 16, 2012            Skiathlon 7.5/7.5 km C/F     L
– Dec. 16, 2012     Skiathlon 15/15 km C/F     M

FIS Interview w/Kershaw – All About Canmore

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December 12, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Two-time Olympian and World Champion, Devon Kershaw of Canmore, gives us a heads up on what to see, eat, and do while in Canmore, AB, this week during the FIS World Cup stop.

Kershaw continued his historic run in 2012 when he became the first Canadian male to finish second overall on the World Cup circuit. Kershaw’s incredible season included winning two World Cup races in addition to adding another silver and three bronze medals to his career total. Devon also finished fourth overall on the 2012 Tour de Ski. Devon first skied his name into the history books in 2011 with teammate, Alex Harvey, as the Canadian duo joined forces to become the first Canadian males to win a medal at the World Championships when they won gold in the team sprint race in Oslo, Norway.

You were born in Sudbury, Ontario and moved to Canmore, Alberta when you were selected to the National Ski Team. For how many years now have your called Canmore home?
Devon Kershaw: I’ve called Canmore home (full time) for ten years.

Outside of Canmore being the centre for Cross Country Canada, what else draws you to the area?
DK: The Bow Valley is a just such an inspiring area. Great little community, amazing trails that snake through the region offering so many great running/hiking/mountain biking options, excellent rollerskiing and the mountains never cease to amaze me. The Rockies are insanely beautiful – I could just sit there and stare for hours and hours.

If I am a visitor to Canmore during the World Cups, besides the racing what is one thing that is a must see?
DK: That’s such a hard question – I think everything is so fantastic. Just walking along the Bow River and looking around at all those fantastic peaks is enough! Nature is definitely the big draw in the area. As far as a “must see” for Canmore… Hummm… I actually cannot narrow it down to just one. My advice is get out there and get active. Go for a hike, a ski, or even just a walk!

Best place for breakfast?
DK: Summit Cafe – the Huevos Rancheros won’t disappoint. I promise you that. And if you are feeling extra hungry and/or are planning a massive day of activity and want to treat yourself – walk next door (to Fergie’s bakery/convenience store) and grab a “Fergie’s Apple Fritter” – it’s madness.

Best place for lunch?
DK: This is going to be funny – but I’d say Crazyweed Kitchen (that’s going to be my pick for dinner too though, haha). So if you want to change it up, hit up Mara’s Way Sushi, JK Bakery, or Le Fournil Bakery (the croissants and pain au chocolat are fantastic).

Best place for dinner?
DK: Crazyweed. Hands down.

Best place for a burger and beer?
DK: I guess most people would say the Grizzly Paw. It’s the local brew pub in town. I’m not a big burger/beer dude, but any of the pubs offer similar “pub fare” burger/beer options. The Drake, The Wood, type thing.

Best souvenir shop?
DK: Haha. No idea. Not much of a knick knack dude. There are some great art galleries downtown (like the Aven’s gallery) – so your best bet is to just walk down Main Street and poke your head into whatever shop looks interesting.

What other activities are possible besides cross country skiing?
DK: There are plenty of things to do in Canmore – we have a lot of stellar restaurants and cafes around. A couple outdoor hockey rinks to play some shinny (pick up hockey) if you’re so inclined. A short drive away there are a number of great Alpine Ski areas (Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Nakiska, Mt. Norquay) at your disposal as well. If you want to check out another beautiful and historic town in the Bow Valley – Banff is just 18km away (West on Highway 1) – and offers a whole different experience. Just walking and exploring both towns (Banff/Canmore) and taking in the amazing views – it’s hard to beat. The best adventures are the ones not planned – so my advice is just let your curious nature take over!

Best place for sushi in town?
DK: Chef Studio Japan.

Thanks Devon and good luck racing at home!
DK: Thanks

Interview w/Kikkan Randall after FIS Quebec City Sprint WCup

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December 11, 2012 (Quebec City, QC) – SkiTrax caught up with U.S. skiing star Kikkan Randall after the press conference in Quebec City following her exciting FIS XC Ski World Cup team and individual sprint wins on the weekend – she is now leading the Sprint Cup which she won last season. Randall then signed autographs for her fans. The Alaska star is ramping up for Canada’s second World Cup stop, which takes place Dec. 13-16 in Canmore, AB.

Canmore XC Ski Camps – 2- and 4-day Options – Dec. 20-23

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December 11, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – With the Alberta World Cup coming to Canmore this week, the Alberta World Cup Academy in conjunction with Ascent Physical Therapy is hosting the Canmore XC Ski Camps. This is an excellent opportunity for intermediate to advanced level cross country skiers to enhance their technique with the help of the World Cup Academy Coaches.

This Camp is for all levels and ages of skiers.  This is not a complete beginners camp, but caters to intermediate level non-racing skiers up to racing level.  Please call if you are not sure if your skills will fit the camp!

The Canmore XC Ski Camp is the perfect way to take advantage of world class instruction from some of Canada’s finest coaches from the Alberta World Cup Academy. The structure of the camp allows skiers to operate at their own pace and in a group environment that is catered to their ability level.

The on snow sessions concentrate on the technical aspects of both skate and classic, with real world modeling and feedback an essential part of the program. Ski waxing instruction along with advice on ski selection will ensure you come away from this camp well informed.

If you want to optimize your technique and learn from the best the Canmore XC Ski Camp is the place to be.

For beginner skiers, in skate or classic, the Canmore XC Ski Camp supports and encourages skiers to contact the excellent team at Trailsports. They can provide private and group lessons for those of varying ability and will be operating throughout winter and during camp time. This may be the perfect opportunity for those bringing a spouse, child or friend along for the week to enroll in one of their classes.

– 4 Days of Expert XC Skiing Instruction and Training – $599+gst – Register HERE

– NEW! 2-Day Skate only option Dec 22nd and 23rd – $375+gst – Register HERE

Like Canmore XC Ski Camp on Facebook!

For more information go to www.canmorexcskicamp.com

The Sasseville Report – Things I Think I Know after Ruka

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December 05, 2012 – The World Cup passed through its second stop of the season at Ruka, which is just outside of Kuusamo in Finland, this past weekend and this is what I think I know after the three races that took place there:

– Marit Bjoergen and Petter Northug are the best skiers in the world right now. Bjoergen dominated winning all three races and is undefeated on the season in the World Cup. This comes on the heels of some talk in the Norwegian press that she was losing a step after having been beaten in some early season races. Northug did not win any of the races on the weekend – he was 2nd in the sprints to Russian Nikolai Kriukov and 2nd again to another Russian, Alexandr Legkov in the 10 km but he won the overall sprint at the end of the third race from another Russian, Maxim Vylegzhanin. He is now leading the World Cup overall.

– The Russian team is ramping it up in preparation for the Olympics in Sochi in 2014. In addition to the above mentioned men’s results they had 5 men finish in the top 10 overall at the end of the three days and that did not include their sprinters like Kriukov. The Russian women’s team is also getting better and better with Julia Tchekaleva 3rd in the 5km and Evgenia Shapovalova 2nd and Anastasia Dotsenko 3rd in the sprints.

– Justina Kowaczyk (POL) is still the 2nd best female skier in the world. She is starting to round into form after a very hard summer and fall of training and she finished 2nd to Bjoergen overall at the end of the weekend. She will be a force in the Tour de Ski after Xmas for sure.

– Kikkan Randall is the real deal in distance racing with a second podium finish in the 5km. It is interesting that she is doing better in distance than in sprints so far this season. She will challenge Bjoergen, Kowalczyk and Terese Johaug of Norway for the overall World Cup this year.

– The rest of the American women are also the real deal. Ida Sargeant had a career best 9th in the sprints and joins Kikkan, Holly Brooks, Liz Stephen and Jessie Diggins to make up one of the strongest women’s teams in the world right now. They should do very well in the Canadian World Cups over the next two weeks.

– Perianne Jones (12th)and Dasha Gaiasova (14th) had great sprint races but continue to struggle in distance races. Chandra Crawford is struggling everywhere and needs to get it together quickly if she is going to race well at home in Canada.

– Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey are starting to come out of their funk. Both had decent results over the weekend but it is nothing like how they finished the year last year. The pressure is on to perform in Canada, especially for Harvey in his hometown this weekend in Quebec City. I wonder what they will do?

– Noah Hoffman is starting to shine. As a junior he had a great engine but poor technique but it seems that he is starting to put it all together. Last year he was a medalist at the World U23 games and his 19th place in the 10km and 26th place overall shows big improvement over last year. The other men on the US team are still back in the pack and need to pick it up soon.

– Many of the top skiers will not be coming to Canada for the World Cups. Marit Bjoergen and Petter Northug stated after the races in Ruka that they would not attend. The Finnish team will only send 5 sprinters to Quebec City, but will send more to the distance races in Canmore including Aino-Kaisa Saarinen. This means that there will be more World Cup points available for North American skiers, as the fields will be diluted.

– Having World Cups in Canada is also a great opportunity for younger, less experienced North American skiers to show what they can do against the best. Careers can be jump started by having a great race over the next two weeks. These are the skiers that I will be watching closely. Now is the time for them to get on the “escalator” that will take them to Sochi in 2014. By skiing well now they will get more opportunities to ski at this level later on in the year which will give them more chances to qualify for their National Teams and for their Olympic Teams. It will be very hard for skiers who are not on the escalator now to make it to Sochi next year.

– All of the Canadian races will be shown on either CBC or Bold over the next three weeks. Consult your local listings for time and dates and set your PVR – there is going to be some great racing!

Alberta World Cup Academy Men’s Time Trial Results from 17km Skiathlon

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November 28, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – The men from the Alberta World Cup Academy along with the Thunder Bay NDC and a couple other teams raced a 17km Skiathlon on the weekend in preparation for the first set of NorAm competitions coming up. Plenty of snow allowed for the group to race on the same trails being used for the World Cups, coming to Canmore December 13 – 16.

Graham Nishikawa finished first, after McMurtry, Killick, and himself broke away from the pack early on in the classic leg. Nishikawa grabbed a small lead after the transition, and maintained it over Killick who finished second. Brian McKeever who skis with the Para-Nordic National Team was able to catch back up to McMurtry and outsprint him to the finish.

Results
1. Graham Nishikawa (AWCA) 43:21:00
2. Graeme Killick (AWCA)43:44:00
3. Brian McKeever (PNST) 44:01:00
4. Brent McMurtry (AWCA) 44:02:00
5. Pate Neumann (CNSC) 44:13:00
6. Chris Hamilton (AWCA) 44:13:00
7. Partrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA) 44:26:00
8. Jess Cockney (AWCA) 44:40:00
9. Russell Kennedy (AWCA) 44:55:00
10. Gerard Garnier (CNSC) 44:57:00
11. Michael Somppi (AWCA) 45:09:00
12. Erik Carleton (PNST) 45:19:00
13. Phil Widmer (AWCA) 45:37:00
14. Andy Shields (NDC TB) 45:41:00
15. Matt Wylie (AWCA) 46:58:00
16. Jordan Cascagnette (NDC TB) 46:58:00
17. Dudley Coulter (NDC TB) 47:20:00
18. Bob Thompson (NDC TB) 47:27:00
19. Scott Hill (NDC TB) 50:15:00

This weekend’s NorAms in Canmore are also selection races for the Quebec and Canmore World Cups. So far Kevin Sandau, Alysson Marshall, who are currently in Europe racing the first set of World Cups, along with Emily Nishikawa and Brent McMurtry, are already pre-selected for these races.

CCC Events Committee Letter Regarding Distance Races at Ski Nationals

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November 08, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – In response to recent comments on reducing the distances of the Open 50 and 30 km mass start events at the Ski Nationals the Events Committee would first like to acknowledge the importance of the National Championships as a celebration of our domestic racing program. We would also like to recognize the hundreds of hours of volunteer time invested in making the Ski Nationals and our other sanctioned events a success every season.

The concept of change was first raised at the April High Performance Meeting in Canmore citing among other things the opportunity of junior and senior skiers in the event racing against one another with our World Cup team on the start line. Our top athletes and coaches at the meeting thought that this was an interesting idea and that the shorter distance would appeal to more skiers given the rigors of just coming off of the World Cup circuit and the prospects of reduced training time for those in Canada because of spring snow conditions.

From the Events Committee perspective it was felt that the concept could further the re-introduction of a Canadian Long Distance Championships during February. The lull in national racing focus during this period has been recognized as a challenge for domestic skiers after the January NorAm period and the Ski Nationals.

Recent comments suggest the tradition of the distance event in offering a unique challenge to participating skiers would be lost. The committee appreciated that for some this is a very important race, but in the same vein, an opportunity of increasing the profile and prestige of our larger loppet events and developing closer ties with these events is also important in forming strong ties within community. In fact a singular mid season distance event could enhance the profile of the distance champion.

The 30 /20 km combined distances resonated well with the Ski Nationals Organizing Committee in June, as the change represented a shorter day for volunteers after what all Ski National organizers feel is a very grueling week. Ending the on snow portion of the final day earlier would lead nicely into a more controlled Awards banquet in the early evening.

Over the next couple of weeks the Events Committee will review the recent on line comments provided by athletes and others and have a second look at the schedule for March 30 in consideration of typical snow and temperature conditions for this period, plans by the Organizing Committee and developments within the sport.

Please do not hesitate to email your comments directly to the Committee c/o ddyer@cccski.com.

Thank you for your input.

Frozen Thunder Classic Highlights Video

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November 01, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Check out this great compilation of video highlights from the weekend’s Frozen Thunder Classic in Canmore. The video features Canadian and U.S. national team members as they test themselves on “Frozen Thunder”, a course built from snow preserved from the previous winter at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Report and photos from the event HERE.

WinSport Frozen Thunder Classic from Twin Zebra on Vimeo.

Diggins Report – Pre-Gaming the Season

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October 29, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Camp wrapped up today in Canmore with a classic sprint time trial and strength. My warmup for strength was somewhat more embarrassing than usual since I lost a bet in the race and had to wear my underwear over my tights. But that’s not all that crazy.

The crazy part of this time trial/pre-season race was that there were actually some of the very best sprinters in the world in attendance; an Olympic gold medalist, World Champs gold medalist, multiple World Cup race podiums scattered throughout the start list. It’s cool seeing so many North Americans kicking butt. And it’s cool training with them and learning from every session, time trial and race experience!

I’d almost forgotten some of the sensations that accompany sprinting: the lactic acid and nerves seemingly boring a hole in my stomach (maybe I’m slowly developing and ulcer and don’t know it?); trying to stay warm while not sweating too much so I don’t freeze once I finally do take my jacket off; trying to dial in kick and not knowing when to add more or go with better glide. It’s a circus, all right!

And today was the best practice ever, thanks to Cross-Country Canada for hosting! I know classic sprinting is my biggest weakness and therefore I’m super thankful for any good chance to work on it that I can get. I felt a little like I was spinning my wheels, going nowhere during the race, but I worked hard and even when I totally ran out of energy (and technique!) in the final, it was a sweet learning experience. Slowly but surely, it’ll get better!

The interesting thing about racing is that while there is one person who wins, there is also someone who pushes the hardest, someone who dials in their skis the best, someone who has the best technique, someone who hurts the most and someone who uses the smartest tactics.

Whenever I get nervous, I focus on trying to be everything but the person who wins and more on the things I can control. Then, sometimes, things pull together and result in a good race. And sometimes not…

Tomorrow I fly back to gool ‘ol Minnesota, and I’m super pumped to get in a WHOLE TWO WEEKS there! Yes, that’s right, you heard me. 2 weeks in one spot NOT for a training camp. It’s a rare, beautiful thing.

However, I will be sad to leave all my teammates, especially since I won’t see my SMS crew for a month and a half! It’s been an amazing summer and fall, and I know we’ll have even more good stories when we’re reunited in Quebec.

Several of these shots are those One Way’s Reese Hanneman took (Engine Room Media). We had a fun time taking some goofy shots (I can’t help myself) and some better ones, too. Check them all out HERE.

Rolling Out the Competition-Development NCCP Context

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October 29, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Since the first year when Competition Coaching-Introduction: Advanced (CCI-Advanced, T2T) workshops were offered in 2008-09, an increasing number of coaches have been trained for that context and will now complete their certification by undergoing the evaluation process. The next step in the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) progression is the Competition Coaching-Development context (CCD).

Cross Country Canada (CCC) is pleased to announce that we will host a first CCD dryland workshop in Canmore, May 8-12, 2013 (5 very full days!). The On Snow workshop (4 days) is planned for November 2013.

Given the large number of currently trained CCI-Advanced (T2T) coaches wanting to start their training in the CCD context, registrations for this first dryland workshop next spring will likely be offered to targeted 2015 Canada Winter Games(CWG) candidates in priority. It will be up to divisions to provide a list of prioritized coaches in that regard.

2015 CWG coaching eligibility requirements have been somewhat lowered for part of the support teams by the Canada Games Council earlier this month but still require old level 3 certification or CCD certified status in the new system for the head coach of each provincial/territorial teams and CCD trained status for all other coaches (excluding team manager and wax technician).

If the demand is such that several interested and eligible coaches cannot take part in this first CCD dryland workshop next spring, CCC will consider offering a second dryland workshop in the fall of 2013.

To be accepted for the CCD dryland workshop in May 2013, all candidates must be at least trained in the CCI-Advanced(T2T) context (both workshops completed) and be in the process of completing the CCI-Advanced(T2T) evaluation process (at least three out of five outcomes evaluated, including “supporting T2T athletes at a competition”); see CCI-Advanced (T2T) page for details HERE.

As well, interested candidates should take note that they can start their CCD training right away by completing training and evaluation in the multi-sport modules required for cross-country skiing (see CCD page HERE for details).

To view the whole CCD training and certification progression, see the flowchart HERE.

Noah Hoffmann – Snow in Canmore

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October 23, 2012 – USST skier Noah Hoffman is currently in Canmore, AB, getting first tracks with the team. The Park City, UT native has been taking advantage of the white stuff in Canmore, where it’s cold enough to fire up the snow guns. He has also been hanging out with the Canucks and watching football. Read more about it HERE and HERE.

Canmore Nordic Ski Club Ski Swap – Oct. 26-27

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October 19, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Canmore Nordic Ski Club is having its annual Ski Swap on October 26 and 27. The Ski Swap is being held at the Canmore Crossing this year, 1160 Railway Avenue, in the old Brick store between Sobeys and Safeway.

Early-Bird Entrance fee is $10 and will start at at 8:30am on Saturday for the first 100 people. Purchase your early-bird tickets at the Canmore Crossing on Friday, October 26, 6 to 8pm

Consignee Drop Off: Friday, October 26, 6:00pm – 9:00pm, Canmore Crossing (between Safeway and Sobeys)

Sale: Saturday, October 27, 9:30am to noon. 8:30am for Early-Bird ticketholders (see above) Canmore Crossing (between Safeway and Sobeys)

* Cash or cheque only (be prepared to show identification)

Consignee Pick Up: Saturday, October 27, 3:00pm – 6:00pm

Note: As of 6:00pm on Saturday, unclaimed items are the property of Canmore Nordic Ski Club

For questions contact: info@canmorenordic.com

Frozen Thunder Set to Open Oct. 13

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October 12, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Frozen Thunder is on track for opening Oct. 13th. The 2k ski loop, using snow preserved from the previous winter, is being set up and groomed for early season skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

The trail will be used for training by the National Ski Team and local racers, with the second annual classic, sprint race involving top US and Canadian competitors scheduled for Oct 26th.

Two FIS World Cup Stops in Canada in 2012/13 Season – Quebec and Canmore

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October 03, 2012 – This season, Canada will see the planet’s top cross-country ski racers make two stops in Canada for FIS World Cup events. The first layover will be in Quebec City, with the second in a perennial favourite venue, Canmore, AB.

Quebec City Sprints
Renowned Quebec event organizer Gestev is in charge of the Quebec City edition, December 6-9. Ski fans will see their favourite athletes go head-to-head in historic downtown Quebec in exciting sprint competitions, including individual and team sprint races. All hopes will be on local hero Alex Harvey’s shoulders as he goes full throttle on home turf.

More info HERE.

Alberta World Cup
Athletes will then head to the beautiful Rocky Mountain town of Canmore, AB, December 13-16. As the HQ for Cross Country Canada and the Canadian Ski Team, this is the country’s flagship event. Coming just two weeks before Christmas, World Cup 2012 will have a distinctive Christmas theme surrounding the actual races and part of the Canmore downtown activities as well.

Races will include sprint and distance events to test athletes to their fullest. The Alberta World Cup 2012 is hosted by the Alberta World Cup Society and is expected to have a worldwide TV audience of over 35 million people.

www.albertaworldcup.com

Volcanoes, Glaciers and Rollerskis: 2012 Training Season Update with Coach Wadsworth

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September 27, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – It’s funny. The athletes came into this training season more excited than ever, when one would think that after such a successful last season it would have been just the opposite. The amount of work this team has done over the last two years has been exhausting and I thought maybe people would slow down a bit and need to be encouraged back into training mode. Well, that couldn’t be further from the case.

Champing at the bit, the athletes travelled to Bend, Oregon for an on-snow camp combined with the US ski team. We had amazing skiing and weather which helped make this our best spring camp ever. Everyone on the team came into this camp fit and pumped up to get things going-it was great!

A few weeks after the Bend camp, our newly formed women’s team, led by Coach Eric de Nys, went north to Alaska for a half dryland and half on-snow camp with the US women’s team. This camp was a major success, with one of the largest (and for sure best) women’s training groups ever assembled in North America. Although the weather on the glacier wasn’t exactly sunny the women laid down some serious K’s and hours and came away more fit than ever.

While the ladies were in AK, the guys and I were hammering up from sea level to 10,000 feet on rollerskis on the island of Maui. The men tallied up more than 60,000 feet of vertical over 12 days, while camping high up on the volcano. There are other places to do altitude camps but nowhere else where you can do this kind of full-on vertical training. By far this was the camp where I saw the biggest changes in the guys, and everyone knew they had just gone up two notches in fitness. Straight from Hawaii we finished off the altitude training at the Haig Glacier in Alberta with 3 days of skiing at 3000 meters.

Since we have camps almost every month with most lasting around two weeks, I thought this summer would be a good time to give our athletes a six week break to settle in, train, and visit friends and family. During this period, Joel Jaques from our technical team and Perianne Jones from the women’s team got married and it was a celebration shared by many in the Cross Country Canada family.

In late August the women’s team joined forces with the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) in Whitefish, Montana for another large women’s camp. Once again energy was high and the women focused on a good mix of intensity and distance, with a couple hard time trials to start engaging the racing legs. Chris Jeffries, Head Coach of the AWCA, and Eric de Nys worked well together and the energy coming out of this camp would carry everyone for weeks.

During this same period, the men were in on-snow in New Zealand banging out big hours and focusing on skiing technique. Coach Louis Bouchard and I were extremely happy with the work done there and left excited for the real winter to come.

Both the men’s and women’s teams are now off to Park City, Utah. Although the teams have different schedules, we’ll be doing some workouts together and eating dinners as a group. It’s our last dryland camp of the year and it will be fun to get everyone back together.

We’re all back to Canmore after Park City for skiing on our “kept” snow for our famous Frozen Thunder event. The Canmore Nordic Centre scrapes off the sawdust used to insulate the snow during the summer and rolls it out Oct 15th. It’s such an advantage for us to know we can start getting the edge on our competition by skiing so early, and right at home!

The World Cup races start Nov 24th in Gellivare, Sweden, and then move on to Kuusamo, Finland for the first mini-tour of the season. From there it’s time to head back to Canada for the much anticipated Quebec City and Canmore World Cups.

Our team is in a better place than ever and it’s an exciting time for everyone involved in cross country skiing in Canada. Without the support of our CCC members, fans and partners we would not be where we are today. Thank you!

Justin

Lenny,-team-van,-Justin_cropped.jpg
From left: Lenny Valjas, Coaching Consultant Torbjorn Karlsen, Coach Wadsworth. Location:Canmore, AB

Interview with Canmore IBU Cup Double Gold Medalist Nathan Smith

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February 13, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Canada’s Nathan Smith made history on Saturday in the Rockies when he won the men’s IBU Cup sprint race, becoming the first Canadian male to win an IBU Cup tour competition. Then on Sunday, he did it again, scoring gold in the 10k. Hear what the 26-year-old Canmore local has to say about his recent success.

Employment Opportunity – CCC Marketing Coordinator

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February 02, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Cross Country Canada (“CCC”), the National Sport Organization for cross-country skiing in Canada, is currently seeking to fill the position of Marketing Coordinator. The successful candidate will work out of the national office which is located in Canmore, Alberta.

General Responsibilities
The position provides support in the ongoing development and management of the organization’s fundraising efforts, marketing and communications initiatives;

A successful candidate should possess:
– Post secondary education in Sport Administration, Business, Marketing or a combination of related education and experience.
– Excellent computer skills in all Microsoft software programs, graphics software and experience with web site management and web maintenance.
– The ability to work with a high degree of independence in a very fast-paced environment and respond quickly and efficiently to inquiries.
– Excellent time management and organizational skills, as well as ability to manage and prioritize multiple tasks concurrently.
– The ability to work as a team player in a volunteer-based organization.
– The ability to produce polished communication in written and oral form in English (essential) and French (highly desirable).
– Direct experience or a strong understanding of the sport of cross-country skiing (highly desirable).
– Willingness to work some overtime and weekends in the peak seasons.

As a full-time employee, the Marketing Coordinator will be eligible for employee benefits in accordance with CCC’s employee benefits policy. Starting salary will be determined based on qualifications and experience.

Please see below for a detailed job description. Applications should be in the form of a letter of application, with CV and three references, submitted by e-mail to:

Cross Country Canada/Ski de fond Canada
c/o Cathy Sturgeon
Director – Administration and Communication
csturgeon@cccski.com

Deadline to receive applications and references is February 21, 2012.

CCC is an equal opportunity employer. This position is financially supported in part by Sport Canada.

More info HERE.

Fast and Female XC Ski Event in Canmore Report

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January 24, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – At the age of 12, Canmore’s Sara Renner attended the 1988 Olympics as a spectator. That moment changed her life and prompted her to aim for Olympic dreams of her own.

With a career that was highlighted by an Olympic silver medal claimed at the 2006 Games in Torino with Beckie Scott in the team event, retired cross-country ski star Renner now inspires others to reach for the skies. This Sunday, she did just that as 80 aspiring female champions between the ages 9 to 19 joined the Fast and Female XC Ski event for an afternoon of motivation.

“When I was your age, I was exactly like you,” told Renner to the captive group of skiers coming from all corners of Alberta and even British Columbia. “I loved cross-country skiing, and one day I qualified for the Alberta Winter Games. That was such a thrill and really the beginning of my desire to train and work hard.”

“With experience, I learned that what made a big difference for me to reach the next level of performance was to focus on that 10 percent of the race that hurts the most,” explained Renner as her Olympic medal circulated amongst the girls in the crowd. “I knew that if I gave it all in that segment of the race, then I would do my best. That’s how I began to judge all my races – asking myself how much I had pushed myself in that 10 percent of the race when you just want to give up,” added the 2005 bronze medalist in the individual sprint at the World Ski Championships.

Held in conjunction with the first-ever FIS (Federation International de Ski) World Snow Day, the Fast and Female XC Ski event featured team building activities, one hour of on-snow ski drills, healthy snacks, Zumba dancing and Renner’s inspirational presentation. In keeping with Fast and Female’s mission, all activities were aimed at motivate girls to stick to sports and the healthy lifestyle. It is believed that girls are six times more likely to drop out of sports than boys.

On this special occasion, Renner was joined by a dynamic group of tremendous female role-models including current and past national team athletes, World Cup Academy racers, and provincial team competitors such as Alysson Marshall, Emily Nishikawa, Janelle Greer, Annika Hicks, Kendra Hicks, Marlis Kromm, Rebecca Reid, Heidi Widmer, Kate Brennan, Natalie Hull, Brooke Gosling, and Karen Messenger. Many of these ladies were onsite to take part in the Haywood Western Championships and volunteered valuable time to join the Fast and Female event.

Founded by Olympic gold medalist in cross-country skiing and active World Cup racer, Chandra Crawford, Fast and Female strives to counter this phenomenon by hosting fun, non-competitive sporting events with inspiring female athletic role models all over North America. The organization is currently involved in sports such as alpine skiing, biathlon, ski cross, snowboard, cycling, and running. A key ingredient to Fast and Female’s success in impacting the lives of girls lies in the quality and wisdom of its ambassadors.

“When I qualified for my first World Cup, it wasn’t at all what I expected,” shared Renner. “You could have flipped the results page around and found my name all the way at the bottom. Over time, I was very lucky to have awesome teammates. We really demanded a lot of each other and that’s why we were able to turn things around and achieve such successes.”

In closing, Renner told the girls: “As an athlete, you’re always being judged for your performance, your body fat composition and so on. Ultimately, that doesn’t define who you are. What you have to know is that people around you will love you no matter what,” concluded the mother to two young girls.

This unique event was made possible thanks to the financial support of Fast and Female’s national financial and in-kind sponsors – including exclusive platinum sponsor Best Buy as well as Buff Multifunctional Headwear, CLARINS, Cold-FX, Cross-Country Canada, Lululemon Athletica, LUNA Bars and LIT Glitter. The Canmore Nordic Centre also provided free access to the venue and trails. We would also like to thank all volunteers who helped at the event. For a complete list of Fast and Female national program supporters and sponsors, please click HERE.

The next Fast and Female event will take place on February 4, 2012 at Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario with members of Canada’s national Ski Cross team. The off-snow activity will feature an afternoon of inspiration for girls involved in Alpine skiing and Ski Cross. The online registration page can be found HERE.

Fast and Female Event Video

More photos HERE.

Cross Country Canada Names OPA/Convergence Tour Team

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January 24, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – A second group of young Canadian skiers has been selected to gain valuable international experience while representing Canada at OPA and Scandinavian Cup races in early February. The OPA and Scandinavian Cup circuits are the European and Scandinavian equivalents of the Haywood NorAm series. A team selection synopsis will follow shortly.

Cross Country Canada named 7 athletes that will wear Canadian colours at races in Switzerland, Latvia and Estonia:

– Alysson Marshall (Larch Hills Ski Club)
– Zoe Roy (Rocky Mountain Racers)
– Alana Thomas (Nakkertok)
– Phil Widmer (Canmore Ski Club)
– Graham Nishikawa (Whitehorse Ski Club)
– Brian McKeever (Foothills Nordic Ski Club)
– Michael Somppi (Lappe Nordic Ski Club)

Eric Bailey of the National Development Centre in Thunder Bay will be the team leader. The Canadian Team will leave Jan. 29th, 2012 and race:

– Feb. 3-5 – Campra, SUI – OPA Cup
– Feb. 8, 9 – Madonna, LAT – Scandinavian Cup
– Feb. 11, 12 – Albu, EST – Scandinavian Cup

www.cccski.com

Haywood NorAm Westerns – Schedule Change

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January 19, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – After consultation with the organizing committee, and in consideration of the weather forecasts, the race jury has made the decision to alter the event schedule as follows:

1) Friday, January 20: Interval start classic race (previously on Saturday)
Race start at 11:00 AM – 15 second intervals

2) Saturday, January 21: individual sprint free technique race (previously on Friday)
Qualification and heat times as per the race notice

3) All existing registrations for the interval start will be transferred into the new Friday time slot.

4) In the event that the Friday interval start race is not able to be held because of cold weather, it will be put back to Saturday, as part of a two day pursuit-with-a-break, and the sprint event will be cancelled.

5) Persons who are not able to accommodate the new race schedule (for example those who had previously registered for only Saturday and Sunday races) are asked to contact the Race Secretary to explore alternative arrangements.

Contacts:
Race Secretary: Greg Thompson – competitionsecretary@albertaworldcup.com
OC Chair: Ken Hewitt – khewitt@albertaworldcup.com; 403-680-4141

*** Please forward this info to others who may need to know.

Ken Hewitt
Organizing Committee Chair
khewitt@albertaworldcup.com

Race info HERE.

Dusseldorf, Car Races, Christmas and Such…

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January 18, 2012 – My return to the World Cup this season definitely didn’t start off as I had envisioned but it certainly ended on a positive note! After a slightly better but still disappointing sprint day on Saturday in Dusseldorf, Germany, I was encouraged by a better feeling body and regrouped for Sunday’s sprint relay.

I teamed up with the towering Lenny Valjas and together we put in a great day of sprint racing. We went into the sprint relay not really knowing what to expect as we had both had disappointing results in the individual sprint qualifier the day before. However, after the qualifying round was finished with, we knew that today would be different.

Len and I posted the third fastest qualifying time of 28 teams and after the disqualification of a German team, ended up being the second ranked qualifiers on the day. Going into the final, our attitude quickly changed.  We started the day with the goal of just making it into the final, now the podium was in our sights. We stuck to our race plan, skiing conservatively, conserving energy and staying out of trouble.

This meant that we were often at or near the back of the pack but as others burned  energy fighting for a position or two, Len and I managed to ski relaxed and then go for it on our final laps. Thanks to an impressive finishing kick from Len, we were able to pass the Austrian team down the final stretch and lock up 5th place, just 4 seconds out of the top spot!

Unfortunately it was too little too late to justify staying on the World Cup circuit so I returned to Canada to pick up the start of the NorAm series in Silver Star. As is often a result of hectic race/travel schedules I came down with a cold the day before the first races in Silver Star and consequently missed that weekend of racing and the following weekend in Rossland. A total bummer but not a whole lot you can do about it! If there was a positive to missing the pre-Christmas NorAms it was that it allowed me to get in some really good training volume over the Holidays in preparation for the second half of the season.  I had a great Christmas at home in Red Deer with family before returning to Canmore for another week of volume consisting of some great days out in Kananaskis. I even managed to sneak out into the backcountry for an awesome day of charging knee deep pow with Brent McMurtry and Phil Widmer.

It’s now a new year and with a lot of racing ahead I’m looking forward to the weeks to come. Hopefully I can get back in the mix and join the race for the NorAm spot on the World Cup this spring!

As a final thought, I’d like to comment on what I’ve seen happening with increasingly extreme weather patterns around the globe.  It’s really concerning to see what can only be explained as the early signs of climate change. It’s not news that humans are having a profound impact on our environment and climate but as I experience the increasing extremes of weather around the globe, it really drives home the fact that we need to be ever more conscious about what we’re doing to our planet.

Whether it’s seeing pouring rain just kilometers from the Artic Circle in late November, hurricane force winds in the City of Calgary or a complete lack of snow around the globe, it’s worrying to think about the impact that this will not only have on the planet but on the sport that I love. This is certainly not a new concept but I really feel like I need to reiterate how important it is to make environmentally conscious decisions every day and continually evaluate how those decisions impact the planet. For a list of the top 10 things you can do to make a difference have a look here: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/top-10-ways-you-can-stop-climate-change/

Have a great 2012 everyone!

-Drew Goldsack

Overheard: 

“Ugh, I’m soooo tired” –Devon Kershaw, the night before an awesome race.

In the Tape Deck:

Artist: Lana del Rey, Track: Video Games

Artist: Mumford & Sons: Track: Awake My Soul (Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London)

Artist: Mumford & Sons: Track: Little Lion Man (Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London)

On the Tube:

http://youtu.be/6UeCRY1wciA

This blog and others can also be found on www.drewgoldsack.ca!

Alberta World Cup 2012 Video

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November 24, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Check out this breathtaking, heart pumping video that gives fans and racers alike a glimpse of the upcoming cross country skiing Alberta World Cup scheduled for December 2012.

THE Update: If You Only Read One This Year, Make This It!

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November 18, 2011 – Wow, another race season is roaring into action already! With one race under my belt and my first World Cup start of the year just over a week away, it’s high time that I update you on what the heck I’ve been up to all summer! I apologize in advance for the lack of detail but in lieu of a novel, I figured it’d be best to just give you the Coles Notes…

As it seems to be the case with most summers of training, the time flew by. I regret not writing an update sooner but my website was being held hostage by my previous web hosting company (long story) and I have finally completed the arduous task of moving my website to a new host. I hope you enjoy the newly designed drewgoldsack.ca, check back often for updates throughout the winter!

As is the case with most years, I started off the spring pretty much living at the ski hill. Sunshine Village near Canmore is generous enough to comp NST members lift tickets, so come April I’m a full time hill rat. Springtime in the Rockies almost always brings big dumps of snow and I enjoyed some incredible steep and deep days this spring!

From the majestic snow covered peaks of the Rockies, I headed across the prairies to Eastern Manitoba and the rugged terrain of the Canadian Shield to try my hand at ranching. For a guy who grew up in the prairies, I am embarrassingly green when it comes to anything ranch.

However, it didn’t take long to tune into the cowboy blood that, as it turns out, has been coursing untapped through this Alberta boy’s veins…well at least that’s how I saw it anyway! I spent an incredible week horseback riding, crust skiing, sauna-ing, being entertained by newborn lambs, eating freshly laid eggs and relaxing next to a wood-fired stove.

Three lambs were born just before my arrival, which was good news as delivering lambs may have been just a little outside of my abilities. Plus, I got to experience all the fluffy cuteness and none of the gooey sponginess! After being repeatedly stared down and stomped at by the mama sheep, one thing’s for certain: “The older they get, the cuter they aint!” to steal a classic line from The Simpsons.

Though it was hard to leave the serenity of ranch life behind, the beach was calling, and I soon headed off to Miami for some sun and last bit of non-athlete fun before starting up with training for yet another season. Elated to find out that I had been named to the National Team for another year, I was also really looking forward to building on a great season of training with the Alberta World Cup Academy. This year’s training kicked off with the AWCA at an on snow camp in Silver Star in May, followed by a great road bike camp in Kaslo, BC in June.

From there, I made a quick trip up to the Haig Glacier (the best kind of trip to The Haig imho) with the National Team that was actually delayed for a week by TOO MUCH snow, so much snow in fact that they couldn’t find the buried Pisten Bulley on the glacier! The glacier camp was followed by a great month spent training at home in Canmore and a quick trip to the eastern beaches of Cape Breton Island for a friend’s wedding.

The late summer brought a training camp in Whistler with the Academy and then an incredible high altitude camp in Park City, UT with the National Team. From there, I headed back to Whistler with the NST for an intensity block which included four hard intensity sessions in six days and a week of torrential rain… luckily, spending the week shacked up at the Four Seasons Whistler offset the lousy weather!

With fall in the air and more leaves on the ground in Canmore than feral bunnies, I returned home for some much needed rest. It wasn’t long before Frozen Thunder (Snow stored under sawdust from the previous winter… I know, it sounds crazy but it actually works!) was rolled out at the Canmore Nordic Centre (October 15th) and before I knew it the ski season was under way! The last two weeks of October delivered outstanding ski conditions in Canmore and I was able to log a lot of hours on snow before taking off for Europe and the start of the World Cup season….

It’s shaping up to be a great year of racing, see you out there!

– Drew Goldsack

Overheard:
‘I’m going to log out of Facebook, Seriously.’ – Alex Harvey

In the Tape Deck:
Artist: Ben Howard, Album: Every Kingdom
Artist: Bon Iver, Track: Calgary (Cillo Remix)
Artist: Devil Makes Three, Track: Chained to the Couch
Artist: Active Child, Track: When Your Love is Safe

On the Tube:
http://youtu.be/8r1CZTLk-Gk

Canmore XC Ski Camp – December 27-30

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November 08, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Ascent Performance Lab and the Alberta World Cup Academy are pleased to announce their first Cross Country Ski Camp – December 27-30, 2011.  Building on the excitement of Frozen Thunder and recent first ever on-snow sprint races at the Nordic Centre, this ski camp is aimed at senior and masters skiers who want to benefit from the world-class Canmore Nordic Centre, the professional services of the new Performance Lab at Ascent, and the superior coaching skills of the Alberta World Cup Academy.  This camp will enhance Canmore’s reputation as the leading community for cross country skiing in Canada.

According to Mike Cavaliere, Program Director of the Academy: “This is an exciting opportunity to share with other senior and masters skiers the same coaching expertise we have been applying that’s resulted in Olympians and national team skiers like Gordon Jewett, Madeleine Williams, Drew Goldsack and Allyson Marshall,  We’re thrilled to partner with Shane Munro and the team at  Ascent to deliver a program that is unique in this country.  And, it will bring new visitors to Canmore over the holiday season!”

“We’re able to offer this program because of our world-class facility – the Canmore Nordic Centre and the high quality of the wellness industry in Canmore”, says Cavaliere.

For more information, contact:
Alicia Evans,
Endurance Coach and Camp Coordinator
Ascent Performance Lab
Ph 403 678 8855
email alicia@ascentperformance.com

The Best Place on Earth you Could Ask to Live

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October 24, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – It’s been a busy fall season – as they all seem to be. The days are getting noticeably shorter, and the leaves are evacuating the trees faster than a herd of Elk leaving a meadow when surprised by a pack of dogs. Not that I’m complaining, after a great altitude training camp down under the Utah sun it was back home to Canada where I’ll get almost a month in the “true North strong and free” to finish off my “off season” preparations.

Whister Intensity Camp
A scant six days after returning from the thin Utah air it was time to pack the bags again and head to the lower elevations of the Whistler Valley for a quick and dirty intensity camp. Since it rained almost everyday – we did get pretty dirty – and most of the training we banged out was of the “quick” variety – as we accomplished 4 tough intensity sessions during the 6 day camp.

Whistler is one of the great places to train in Canada and I’m always so impressed with how many great trails there are coupled with the varied terrain of quiet paths and roads to rollerski make it a winner in my book. It was a wet week – but that’s what you get for training so close to the Pacific Ocean in early October and one can’t complain too much after we had 14 days in a row down in Utah with a two week “cold day high” of about 22 Celsius.

The idea for the camp was two-pronged. It was a great opportunity to have everyone together training – the World Cup team and the Senior Development Team – and also to make use of the lower elevation to really rev’ the engines high. While the workouts were tough – it was a great environment and the staff (Mike, Stef, Eric, Adam, Justin, Scott, and Hutchy) deserves a ton of credit for running a smooth and effective camp – not an easy task when there are roughly 20 athletes to look after.

Canmore, AB
I know people hear this too much – but damn Canmore’s sweet. After such a “camp heavy” autumn I’ve really appreciated being home in the Rockies the last couple weeks. I count myself pretty lucky to call this little mountain gem home.

It probably helps that this autumn has been a spectacular one. The weather really has outdone itself – most days are sunny or at least precipitation-free which makes the heavy load of training I’m doing so easy to accomplish.

I had a great Thanksgiving too – since I miss Christmas every year – I was pretty excited that my mom made the journey out West from Ontario to enjoy Thanksgiving with Chandra and I. She spoiled us – whipping up no less than 8 pies during her 6 day trip, an amazing Thanksgiving dinner – and no less than two dozen of the world’s best cinnamon buns. Thank god the training load is high – or else it could have been messy… It was great to catch up with her though – and I feel very thankful that I am able to see my family throughout the “off season” even though my schedule is so busy and they live 3000km away.

“Spray Drag” and Frozen Thunder
Kuhner (my good friend and AWCA coach) organized an uphill grind-fest running race this year to raise money for the AWCA – and he put my ugly mug on the poster (of me rocking a stash’). I just wanted to take an opportunity to say that they did a great job with the race – and it was a leg and lung buster. Hopefully they make it a tradition! Thanks guys – glad I could deliver too – Babs gave me a bit of a scare at the end!

The day of the 7.5km uphill running race coincided with a Canmore nouveau tradition of it’s own – Frozen Thunder. Yes, the name makes no real sense – but we can all agree that it sounds cool.

Two years ago we were fired up when the Canmore Nordic Centre announced it would provide a whopping 400m of snow for the plethora of Nordic enthusiasts to enjoy in mid-October. The excitement to ski in October for a Nordic racer is like the excitement of a “gizmoto” reader getting their paws on Apple’s latest creation – pure unabashed jubilation.

Thanks to the Canmore Nordic Centre who have kept the project growing – last fall it was a 1km loop and this year they doubled down to provide us with a great loop of 1.95km.

Check out the video link from the Globe and Mail HERE.

To be able to ski on good terrain, on good quality snow, starting mid-October is such a huge asset. I’m so thankful for the crew up there at the Canmore Nordic Centre – they are leaders in North America – and how cool is it that Canmore is the only place in North America that does this?! Awesome! Thanks guys!

Yes – Canmore has been sweet. I think I’m a bit nostalgic right now because in only 12 days I will embark on a 5.5 month odyssey overseas as another World Cup race season is upon us. I’m sure I’ll miss home – but I’m really enjoying the days here in Canada before we get things rolling.

I’m so excited to get over there and make it happen. We have a great team and most are feeling great heading into the season. I can’t wait to see what “Team Canada” can do this winter in all categories.

I mean hell, I wouldn’t mind playing a few more ditties’ on the ol’ air guitar – or seeing my teammates melt imaginary faces on their imaginary axes this winter – if you know what I mean.

Heidi Widmer Blog – Santa Came Early!

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October 20, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Frozen Thunder, or Christmas as I like to call it, officially opened this past Monday and I couldn’t be more excited. I spent the previous week trying to shake a head cold, but was more than happy to welcome sub zero cold if it meant that Frozen Thunder could stick around. The trucks, cats and backhoe’s were working hard to wake the sawdust covered snow pile from it’s summer slumber in order to make a 1.5km ski trail for early season training.

Heidi Widmer’s September to Remember

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October 05, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Looking back on the spring and summer of training, I seem to only ever remember the blue skies and sunny days. Then I think a little harder and remember just how cold and miserable at times the spring weather was and how long it took for summer to finally arrive.

Fall, however, has more than made up for the slow start to summer. This September we were able to train in bluebird, bug-free and sunny skies until we forgot what a cloud or raindrop looked like. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good run in the rain and appreciate the humid air, but it was something else to have this long stretch of ‘Indian Summer’.

September was also a time to remember because it marked one year since I won the jackpot of a two-nights stay at the Foothills Hospital after crashing on my roller skis. Hooray for staying on my feet this year!

September also included…
– Plenty of long distance roller skiing in the Bow Valley (Highwood Parkway, Bow Valley Parkway, Banff Legacy Trail and Minniwanka Loop)
– The second annual presentation of Fast and Female Sports Day in Canada. Zumba, dancing, tag, running, yoga, snack time, drawing and glitter. Check, check and check.
– 5km Ambulance Chaser running race. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to chase down any ambulances, but all the money raised is put towards the EMS Foundation.
– I won the 5km Women’s race through Princess Island Park in downtown Calgary
– Canoeing with friends on Vermillion Lakes!

The Academy has been in the Bow Valley for all of September to take advantage of the training facilities and terrain close to home. Looking ahead to October, I’m excited to see the snow magically appear as the pile of sawdust covered snow is spread out into a 3km loop at the Nordic Centre.

The predicted debut date of “Frozen Thunder” is October 15th and I can’t wait to strap on a pair of real skis sometime soon! Other than that, I’m keeping busy training and brainstorming Halloween costume ideas.

Spray Drag Running Race with Devon Kershaw – Oct. 15

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September 10, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Come challenge 2011 World Champion and Canadian National Ski Team member Devon Kershaw in a running race up the Spray Lakes road! All proceeds go to helping support the Alberta World Cup Academy….

Race Information:
– Entry Fee $ 23.00 – registration on Zone4.com HERE, deadline is October 13th, 2011
– Bib pick up Friday October 14th between 12-5pm at Ultimate Fit Center on Main Street
– Last minute pick up can be done at Bill Warren Training Centre between 8 – 8:45am
– 8:15am debrief at cross country ski stadium at the Canmore Nordic Centre
– A van will be at the Nordic Centre parking lot and at each starting point for shuttling clothing to the finish line. Shuttling from the finish line to the Nordic Centre will be available.
– Awards and AWCA Team Launch and snacks at the Bill Warren Training Centre in the Haig room from 12pm – 2pm.

Start line:
– Men – Green gate about 400 meters from power plant spill way.
– Women – Rundle view Entrance.

Race finishes at the top of Spray Road by the dam for both men and women

Start Times:
– U 17 M – 9am
– U 17 W – 9am
– Open M (18-40) – 9:30am
– Open W (18-40) – 9:30am
– Masters M (41+) – 10am
– Masters W (41+) – 10am

Course Records:
– Graham Nishikawa – 29:23
– Madeleine Williams – 25:41

Course Maps
– Men 7.5km HERE
– Women 5km HERE
– Overall Course Layout HERE

Lactate Challenge
Lactate: During power exercises such as sprinting, when the rate of demand for energy is high, lactate is produced faster than the ability of the tissues to remove it, so lactate concentration begins to rise.

Think you have what it takes to have the highest lactate? $50 will enter you in the 50/50 draw which will measure your lactate at the finish line. The harder your push, the better your chances!

50% of entry goes to AWCA and 50% goes to the winner. Separate draws for men and women. Registration for Lactate Challenge on Zone4.

Hope to see you out!

Olympic and Paralympic Medallists Gather in Canmore for 4th Annual Right To Play Red Ball Celebrity Golf Classic

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June 21, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – A medal-winning lineup of Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes will gather with corporate Canada while teeing it up at Silvertip Golf Resort in Canmore, Alta., June 23 for the 4th Annual Right To Play Red BallCelebrity Golf Classic, presented by Samsung.

The Red Ball Celebrity Golf Classic will raise funds for Right To Play – an international humanitarian organization working to create a healthier and safer world for children through the power of sport and play. It is the second time the event has been sold out since two-time Olympic medallist and Western Canadian Senior Advisor for Right To Play, Beckie Scott, launched the event four years ago at the course minutes from the home training base for the nation’s Nordic athletes at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

“As Canadians we often take for granted how fortunate we are to have access to sport which plays such a critical role in our personal and social development” said Scott “This incredible gathering of Canadian role models will be used to celebrate their remarkable achievements in sport this year, while raising crucial awareness and funds in support of our Sport For Development and Peace projects in the most disadvantaged areas of the world. We look forward to once again celebrating the Red Ball Movement in Canmore.”

The celebration will officially kick-off on the driving range of Silvertip Golf Resort at 10:30 a.m. when some of Canada’s highest-profiled Olympic and Paralympic athletes, will participate in a unique closest-to-the-pin contest.

In addition to a wide-variety of on-course challenges and activities, the tournament will also feature extraordinary auction items, and music by one southern Alberta’s hottest bands – The Otherside.

A gala evening hosted by CBC’s Scott Russell.

Led by four-time Olympic gold medallist, Johann Koss, Right To Play is supported by an international team of more than 300 Olympic, Paralympic and professional athletes from more than 40 countries. Through sport and play programs Right To Play is empowering children and communities to look after themselves and each other.

Who: (30 Athletes Include)
– Beckie Scott – Cross-Country Skiing
– Kaillie Humphries – Bobsleigh
– Brian McKeever – Cross-Country Skiing
– Kyle Shewfelt – Gymnastics
– Alex Gough – Luge
– Robin McKeever – Cross-Country Skiing
– Jon Montgomery – Skeleton
– Cassie Campbell – Women’s Hockey

– Sara Renner – Cross-Country Skiing
– Helen Upperton – Bobsleigh
– Lyndon Rush – Bobsleigh
– Warren Shouldice – Freestyle Skiing
– Mellisa Hollingsworth – Skeleton
– Jeff Pain – Skeleton
– Emily Brydon – Alpine Skiing
– Thomas Grandi – Alpine Skiing

Where: Silvertip Golf Resort, Canmore, Alta.
When: June 23, 2010

Schedule:
– 9 a.m. Registration – Athlete Media Interviews Begin
– 10:30 a.m. Athlete Introductions – Media Photo Op
– 11 a.m. Golf
– 4 p.m. Cocktail Reception
– 5 p.m. Dinner and Live Auction

Fast and Female FitFest in Montreal – June 12

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May 16, 2011 (Montreal, QC / Canmore, AB) – La Belle Province will be getting its share of Fast and Female love on June 12, 2011 in Montreal when Olympic gold medalist in cross-country skiing and Fast and Female Founder – Chandra Crawford – sets to host a Fast and Female FitFest presented by Best Buy.

The event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. (check in at 3:30 p.m.) at the Mont Royal (Lac Aux Castors) and feature a series of inspirational and motivational activities for female athletes between the ages of 9 to 19. More specifically, girls will do a light run, dance and listen to a presentation by Crawford who will have her Olympic medal on site for pictures with the participants.

“I’m super pumped to be going to Montreal for a fun activity with the female athletes from this dynamic area,” said Crawford who took home a silver medal this season in a World CupTeam Sprint with teammate Daria Gaiazova held in Germany. “I look forward to meeting them and sharing with them my passion for sports and excellence,” added the full-time athlete who now has her sight on the 2014 Olympics.

As a non-profit and national program started in 2005 Chandra Crawford, Fast and Female is intensely focused on delivering effective programming to keep girls in sports. It is said that girls are six times more likely to drop out of sports than boys.

The registration fee for the youth activities is $15 per participant and includes a Fast and Female t-shirt, a Buff and access to the activities. The event is open to girls from all sports and will be held rain or shine.

Registration are being compiled online HERE.

The deadline to register online is June 10, 2011. On-site registrations will be at a rate of $20 per participant.

Please note that financial assistance is available for participants in need. Please contact info@fastandfemale.com to inquire.

This activity is made possible thanks to valuable local partners such as Ski de Fond Quebec and GLOBO Shoes. Fast and Female’s national sponsors – including Best Buy, Buff Multifunctional Headwear, Clarins and Cold-FX – are also providing key resources to make this event possible.

For a complete list of Fast and Female national program supporters and sponsors, please click HERE.

Chandra Crawford’s Off Season Update!

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May 04, 2011 – Chandra Crawford has updated her blog documenting the flurry of spring activity during her off-season. She has been busy with Fast and Female events, fun cross-training activities, and a well-deserved luxury vacation in St. Lucia with Devon Kershaw. Also included in her May update are some great photos and a schedule of Crawford’s upcoming training camps and engagements. Read more at www.chandracrawford.ca. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/chandracrawford

Job Opportunity – Coaching Development Coordinator at CCC

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April 16, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Cross Country Canada (CCC), the National Sport Organization for cross-country skiing in Canada, is currently seeking to fill the position of Coaching Development Coordinator (CDC). The national office is located in Canmore, Alberta. It is required that the successful candidate work out of this office.

General Responsibilities
This Coordinator position is designed to support CCC’s coaching development system up to the international level. Coaching development is fundamental to CCC’s ability to improve the capacity and productivity of the various components of the sport system that facilitate athlete development.

A successful candidate should possess:
– a solid understanding of CCC’s Long Term Athlete Development Guide (Cross-Country skiing – A Sport for Life);
– NCCP training in cross-country skiing;
– the ability to prioritize tasks and achieve high standards and timeliness of all work products;
– all standard Microsoft office software understanding and have website content management skills;
– current NCCP (new system) Learning Facilitator training in cross-country skiing (preferred); and
– polished communication in written and oral form in English (essential) and French (preferred).

The Coaching Development Coordinator will be provided with employee benefits in accordance with the standard benefits provided for CCC employees. The starting salary will depend on the qualifications and experience he or she brings to this position.

Please click on Job description for more information. Applications should be in the form of a letter of application, with CV and three references, submitted by e-mail to:

Cross Country Canada/Ski de fond Canada
c/o Cathy Sturgeon
Director – Administration and Communication
csturgeon@cccski.com

Deadline to receive applications and references is April 29th, 2011.
Cross Country Canada would like to fill this position by the middle of May.
CCC is an equal opportunity employer. This position is financially supported in part by Sport Canada.

Canmore Nordic Polar Cup – CCC Ski Tournament Report

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April 14, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Walt Disney once said ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’. I’m not sure he was referring to a trip around the world, becoming dogsledders, salt mine workers, or alpine racers, but on Mar 4, the Canmore Nordic Ski Club Track Attack skiers did just all those things and more.

The day started with some face painting in the team room where four teams emerged – Team Moustache ‐ with great looking moustaches I might add; Team Whiskers – the cutest group of puppies around with long black whiskers; Team Snowflake – with very fashionable snowflakes on their faces (including one unibrow); and Team Polar Bear – wearing great looking bears. Thrown in there were a few painted flags on faces and well, you can probably picture it, these kids were ready for action.

There were three events that the teams competed in – the Yukon Quest Dog Sled Challenge; the Siberian Salt Mine Relay; and the Holmenkollen Downhill Quest. The dog sled challenge saw the kids become puppies (they sure loved to bark) and complete a team pursuit race, complete with pit stop, gear change and technique change. The Salt Mine Relay was lots of fun and saw the kids complete a continuous relay where every skier on each team completed a leg of diagonal striding, double poling, and step doubling poling. The downhill quest was a terrain park downhill sprint tournament complete with timing, heats, roller coaster bumps, and speed. Events were timed and great prizes were awarded for team spirit, an aggregate award based on results and technique, and participation awards from Cross Country Canada. Polar Cup(cakes) and lots of cookies, snacks, and hot chocolate were enjoyed by all – thanks to our fabulous parents for contributing those. Thanks also to parents and coaches who did the organizing and help guide the around the world adventure.

The energy and imagination of the event matched the enthusiasm and smiling faces of the kids having fun on skis.

The ski tournament is becoming an integral and important event in the yearly calendar of the Canmore Nordic Track Attack skiers. Last year’s Ski Rodeo and this year’s Polar Cup are going to be hard to top. But something tells me that the world may need to be saved in 2012 by a group of strong, fit, skiing superheroes! No need to worry, I have a feeling that a group of 50+ superheroes will arrive just in time at next years event!

Results HERE.

2011 Haywood Ski Nationals Recap

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March 25, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Nationals week has now come to an end in Canmore and what a great week of ski racing it was! Although my personal racing was a disaster, it was great to be a part of such an outstanding event.

The 10k Skate:
In a word: Ouch. The day started off well; perfect weather, perfect snow, perfect conditions for a ski race! After flying through 7km with the lead, followed closely by George, I felt like I had paced myself perfectly to contend for the win. At points early in the race I felt as though I was skiing too easy but could tell I was skiing well as I had managed to get within a few seconds of my 30-second man (Graeme Killick). Little was I aware though that the wheels were about to come off in a big way!

Perhaps my pace was too high for the grueling course, or maybe my lack of quality training over the past month started to show… whatever it was, my body checked out early. Feeling like someone had thrown out the anchor at full throttle I began to die a quick and unexpected death. There was little I could do but dig deep and try to minimize the damage. Despite redlining most of the last 2.5km I watch in dismay as Killick skied away from me and my split times steadily got worse.

I suffered to the line for 4th place, losing 30 seconds to Grey and Gkill (Killick) who skied an incredible final lap. There’s nothing worse than blowing up in a race, especially when you have the energy to keep pushing, but the body just won’t go. It’s like being chased in a dream, no matter how fast you try to run, it seems like you just can’t go as fast as you need to!

This is most certainly the most I have made myself hurt all year. Lying on the ground at the finish, feeling like my head was about to explode, all I could do was hope such a hard effort would stimulate the body to perform better for the rest of the week.

The 15km Classic:
If the 10k was rough, this race was nothing short of a train wreck. Warm temps, icy tracks and new snow made for a waxing nightmare. With cool mornings and rapidly warming temperatures, the few cms of fresh snow in the early morning was icing on the cake of suffering. As the Alberta World Cup Academy wax team scrambled to anticipate the rapidly changing snow conditions and make the all important klister or hardwax decision, I began warming up for the type of classic conditions I always dread. Faced with having to make a last second guess on what the weather was going to do and which skis were going to be the best- I chose wrong. I was banking on the sun continuing to shine and temperatures rapidly rising, so went with a heavily klistered pair of skis. The weather wouldn’t cooperate though and I ended up with a painfully slow, icing, draggy mess. After losing 12 seconds to the leaders in the first 1.5km (most of which was downhill) I knew I was in for a hard day at the office. Most of the field struggled with the wax but it was apparent that the top 3 (all waxing together) had nailed it, gapping the rest of the field by a whopping 1minute and 40 seconds!

The Classic Sprint:
I would have paid good money for the usual hard and fast ‘Canmore Snow Conditions’ this week however the Classic sprint day brought more of the same difficult conditions. More fresh snow overnight and rapidly warming temps once again left me scrambling to find a ski/wax combo that was working well. After having adequate skis in the morning qualifier but a disappointing result, I returned in the early afternoon to much different conditions. Warm sun and some lingering fresh snow had made for a glazy hard to kick track. I tried a few different options and settled on what I thought was going to be my Ace in the hole… Hairies Skis. With a relatively easy course and not being able to kick my hard wax skis, I figured hairies would be the ticket… I was wrong again. Kicking poorly and not gliding as well as others, I struggled through the rounds on hairies and ultimately went down in a crash on one of the two hairpin corners to end my day. In the words of Forrest Gump: ‘That’s all I have to say about that.’

I do have to give a shout out to AWCA teammates Jess Cockney and Joey Burton who put on a gun show out there, double poling their final rounds finishing 4th and 10th respectively. Also a shout-out to Lennardis Valjas, freshly back from Europe, who was strong all day winning the qualifier and going on to take a commanding win in the final.

The Mass Start 50km Skate:
Finally!! Hard fast conditions had at long last shown up for a race in Canmore! The 50km is by no means one of my strengths but being as it was the last event of the National Champs and even more importantly the last time I’d line up at the start with long-time teammate George Grey, it was a race I wasn’t going to miss. And what a race it was! Fast conditions made for 25min 10km laps and a winning time of just over two hours! I was finally able to find a great pair of skis and would say that I probably had the best skis in the field. Even the fastest skis in the world wouldn’t help me though as my legs started to give out on me at around 40k. Brutal cramping (as is a normal occurrence for my sprinter legs in long races) caused me to lose contact with the lead group of 12 who had been skiing together since the 15k mark. I hobbled to the line for 11th place, pretty happy with my result in a race that is often complete hell for me!

A huge congratulations goes out to neighbor, teammate and friend, George Grey, he finished off a brilliant career with a big win in the 50k-his final race. That win was on top of two National titles won earlier in the week, an incredible final week of racing for George and I couldn’t be happier to see him go out on such a high note!

It was with a heavy heart that I watched George make his final trip to the top of the podium, we have had so many great times together over the years I’m sad to see him leave the racing scene. The race trails just won’t be the same without him. I know that many great things lay ahead for George and wish him all the best in his future endeavors!

Overheard:
“Mmmkayyyy” -George Grey

In the Tape Deck:
Artist: Robortom, Track Paganini Rocks (Feat. Au Revoir Simone)
Artist: Cold War Kids, Track: Hang Me Up To Dry

On the Tube:
The secrets of a great workout:

McKeever Recruits Childhood Ski Friend Carleton for at IPC Nordic Worlds

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March 22, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Brian McKeever will lean on childhood ski friend, Erik Carleton, to guide him to the top of the podium at the IPC Cross-Country Skiing and Biathlon World Championships in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, March 30 to April 10, Cross Country Canada announced today.

With Robin McKeever, who has guided Brian to 10 Paralympic medals including seven gold and three at the 2010 Games in Vancouver-Whistler, forced to the sidelines with a torn ACL, the legendary brother tandem tapped on the shoulder of the 33-year-old Carleton to carry the torch and lead the visually-impaired Brian in the cross-country skiing events at the 2011 World Championships.

“I was surprised and shocked when the McKeevers first asked me, but this is a great opportunity for me and one that I could never turn down,” said Carleton. “It is an honour to race with Brian. He and Robin have done so much for Para-Nordic sport, and I just hope to do whatever I can tohelp continue to build on what they have already accomplished.”

While Robin will return to guide his brother along the road to the 2014 Games, the elder McKeever was also named coach of Canada’s Para-Nordic Team this fall.

“Erik is a very talented, and dedicated athlete and a great friend who I know will do everything he can to ensure we have the opportunity to hear the Canadian anthem being played at the World Championships,” said Brian McKeever who has never worked with another guide other than his older brother since he began competing in Para-Nordic skiing prior to the 2002 Paralympics. “This is obviously a new beginning, but our goals will not change. We are focused on gold, and I’m excited to be heading to Russia knowing I have a great friend and hard-working athlete guiding me to the podium.”

Carleton and the younger McKeever are longtime friends who were introduced to skiing at the same time when they signed up at the same time for a Jackrabbit ski program in Calgary. The two began racing together at the age of 13, and the friends became roommates when they moved to Canmore after eventually qualifying for the National Development Team.

While McKeever’s accomplishments are well documented having won everything on the table in Para-Nordic sport including earning a spot on Canada’s 2010 Olympic Team, Carleton has had numerous top-10’s as recently as this season while mucking it out on the Haywood NorAm Series throughout hiscareer. A part-time database administrator with a degree in computer science from the University of Calgary, Carleton’s best results as a senior racer came at the 2000 National Championships when he won two bronze medals.

“This is a new experience for me racing internationally so I’m nervous about maintaining my form through the travel and time zone changes, but I am also extremely excited,” said Carleton. “Brian and Robin are connected in a way that I will never be able to replace, but I am confident I can ski a pace that will help Brian perform at his best and reach his goals.”

The newly-formed McKeever-Carleton duo will lead a high-powered Canadian contingent into the showcase event on the 2011 IPC calendar. The Canadian squad will include a group of six athletes who have combined to win medals at the Paralympics, World Championships or World Cups.

Six-time Paralympic medallist, Colette Bourgonje will be the lone athlete entered in the women’s sit-ski category. Saskatoon’s Bourgonje, who has competed in six Paralympics in both winter and summer sport, captured a silver and bronze medal at the Vancouver-Whistler Paralympics. Chris Klebl, of Canmore, Alta., who sits fourth overall in the men’s sitting class, has a World Cup bronze medal to his credit this year.

Rising young star, Mark Arendz of Springton, P.E.I., who has enjoyed a dream season in 2011 where he finished second overall in the IPC Biathlon World Cup standings in the men’s standing division will be gunning for his first World Championship medal. With a goal of following the legendary path set by Brian McKeever, the 21-year-old Paralympian shocked the world by winning three gold medals, two silver and two bronze medals this year.

Jody Barber, of Smithers, B.C., who has five IPC World Cup medals to her credit, rounds out the Canadian squad. Barber, who is a 2010 Paralympian and also an accomplished Para-Triathlete where she won a bronze medal for Canada at the 2010 Triathlon World Championships, will compete in the women’s standing category in cross-country skiing.

The Canadian contingent will depart for the IPC World Championships on March 23 where they will take part in a training camp prior to the weeklong competition, which kicks off March 30, 2011.

Juniors at Haywood Ski Nationals – More Photos

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March 21, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Here are some more great photos from Saturday’s Junior and Juvenile races at the 2011 Haywood Ski Nationals in Canmore, AB.

Junior Teck Sprint Results and Photos at the Haywood Ski Nationals

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March 18, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – The Juvenile and Junior categories competed in the 1km Teck Classic Sprints yesterday at the 2011 Haywood Ski Nationals with Quebec’s Emilie Stewart-Jones of Nakkertok winning the Juvenile Girls race and Angus Foster of Big Thunder taking top spot in the Juvenile Boys competition. Alexia Rancourt of Mont Ste. Anne won the Junior Girls title with Julien Locke of Black Jack snapping up the victory in the Junior Boys race. Today is a rest day at the Nordic Centre before racing wraps up tomorrow with the mass start long distance skating events.

Full Results HERE.

Results (brief)

Juvenile Girls
1. Emilie Stewart-Jones
2. Sophie Carrier-Laforte
3. Anne-Marie Comeau

Juvenile Boys
1. Angus Foster
2. John Connor
3. Olivier Hamel

Junior Girls
1. Alexia Rancourt
2. Gabrielle Lemire
3. Camille Burbidge Izquierdo

Junior Boys
1. Julien Locke
2. Simon Lapointe
3. Fred Weaver

Canadian Olympian XC Skier George Grey to Retire

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March 17, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – When two-time Olympic cross-country skier George Grey hits the start line for Saturday’s 50-kilometre skate-ski race at the Haywood Ski Nationals, it will be his final competitive trip around the famed Canmore Nordic Centre.

After racing on the World Cup for nearly a decade against the top athletes on the globe, and competing in the Torino and Vancouver Olympics along with five World Championships, the 31-year-old Grey, of Rossland, B.C., has decided to retire.

“For me the timing just felt right,” said Grey, who started skiing when he was four years old, and racing at age seven. “In the last two years I felt like I accomplished many of my career goals and reached a performance level that was as high as I could attain. I am now looking forward to being a husband, father, and to new challenges and experiences in life.”

“I reached a peak in 2010 and thought maybe, just maybe, if I skied one more year I could contend for a medal in 2011 at the World Championships. To be able to hang in for one more season and experience the World Championships in Norway, and see Devon and Alex become World Champions, was an incredibly memorable final season.”

With Canada’s Beckie Scott having just broken through to win Canada’s first Olympic medal in the sport, Grey emerged onto the National Ski Team in 2002 with a group of bright-eyed, energetic young men from across the country poised and determined to follow Scott’s trail to the international podium.

Devon Kershaw was the first to find his way onto the podium. Kershaw became the first male in more than a decade to mount the international podium in 2006, and it didn’t take long for the others to follow suit. Four years later, Grey enjoyed a breakthrough moment of his own with his most memorable races coming at Whistler Olympic Park. The veteran teamed up with National Ski Team rookie, Alex Harvey, in 2009 to win a World Cup bronze medal in the sprint relay at the Olympic Test Event in Whistler. His best Olympic and individual career finish was eighth during the pursuit competition in 2010 when all three Canadian men finished in the top-10, and all four in the top-20.

“Getting my hands on just one medal was such an incredible high for me, and sharing it with such a talented athlete and friend in Alex made it even sweeter,” said Grey, whose best individual result outside the Olympics was a ninth-place finish at the Tour de Ski prologue in 2009. “My fondest memory has to be the 30-kilometre pursuit race with Ivan (Babikov), Alex (Harvey), and Devon (Kershaw) skiing right at the front of the pack with me. We were showing the world that we had finally arrived, and what we were capable of as a team. It was a career best for me, and to do it at a home Olympics with three of my buddies was amazing.”

After 10 years of blood, sweat and tears, Grey leaves the sport with the Canadian men’s squad amongst the best in the world.

“When I joined the Canadian men’s team we were described as ‘Canada’s most anonymous athletes,’ he said. “Now our team has World Championship medallists, World Cup medallists, Tour de Ski medallists. We have delivered a solid team. I know Canada is in good hands and there is loads of great talent coming up the system so I will sleep well.”

While racing was such a small part of his career, it was the countless hours of training with his friends and teammates that taught him to be patient, driven, tough and most importantly, goal-oriented along the journey.

“I get nostalgic thinking about all the hard training days that I endured with teammates at my side,” said Grey, who cites five-to-six hours of roller skiing in the pouring rain, nearly 50 kilometres of running and stomping their way up to glaciers as some of the most grueling training moments. “Only with your closest teammates is it possible to repeat training days like this every other week. My team and I have shed more sweat and spit on mountains than most would ever think possible.”

With the last goal remaining in his career to ski to the top of the podium on Saturday at the Haywood Ski Nationals, Grey would like to stay within sport if there is an opportunity to do so in the future, while also studying in the securities industry.

“The 2010 Olympics were sensational. The World Champs this year in Norway were staggering, but I am more than happy to wave a warm good-bye and smile at all the precious memories that I have accumulated. Thank you to everyone for your incredible support. My father always told me it is the process and not the outcome. I have fully realized that now, and I will never forget those who have helped me along this incredible ride.”