October 25, 2011 (Barrie, ON) – A little over a year ago a group of like-minded coaches, parents and club officials in southern Ontario saw a need to provide greater high performance coaching and training support to young athletes who were committed to excellence in cross country ski racing. After months of discussion, planning, and fundraising the Southern Ontario Training Centre (SOTC) was born.
An initiative of the Hardwood Hills Nordic Development Centre (aka Team Hardwood) and other Founding Clubs (Kawartha Nordic Ski Club, Arrowhead Nordic, and the Waterloo Region Nordic Sports Club), SOTCʼs mission is to further the development of cross country skiing in Ontario by providing a high performance training centre for athletes who have graduated from high school and are committed to exploring their potential in the sport.
The vision is of a year-round training facility where, under the guidance of a full-time coach, athletes train with a group of competitive peers while engaging in post-secondary studies if they chose. A key feature of SOTC is that athletes compete as members of the SOTC team while also representing and accumulating points for their home clubs in Ontario Cup Series races and at the Canadian Championships.
One year later, the dream has become a very exciting reality. SOTC was formally launched in June, 2011, with the hiring of our Head Coach, Petr Jakl. Petr is a highly qualified nordic ski coach who has held coaching positions in western Canada, Quebec, and his native Czech Republic. Petr hit the ground running in June and began immediately to work with SOTC’s athletes and to set up the office and training facilities. All athletes are following a custom-designed annual training program and Petr oversees the execution of training sessions with the athletes on a daily basis.
There are currently 4 athletes enrolled in the SOTC program, representing 3 different Ontario ski clubs. Cam Raynor hails from Huntsville, ON, where he has raced for the Arrowhead Nordic Ski Club and Huntsville High School. Cam had a break-out season last year, finishing 4th in the Sr Boy’s individual race and anchoring the Huntsville team to a gold medal in the relay event. Scott Hill and Adam Birosh are from North Bay, where they compete for the North Bay Nordic Ski Club. Scott has been a member of the Ontario Junior Development Team and posted some solid race results last year as a first year Jr Male, despite struggling with injuries.
Adam is a member of the Ontario Ski Team and is the reigning Jr Boys overall champion in the Ontario Cup Series. Evan Odell is from Mississauga and races for Team Hardwood. Evan has made regular podium appearances on the university racing circuit the last two years (racing for Laurentian U) and was the overall Ontario Cup champion in the Jr Male category in 2011-12. All 4 athletes are exceptionally talented athletes who are completely committed to the program and to achieving their potential in the sport. Most are also enrolled in university-level studies on at least a part-time basis, at either Lakehead University (Orillia campus) or Laurentian University (through Georgian College in Barrie), both of which are within a 15 minute drive of SOTC.
SOTC is hosted by Team Hardwood, utilizing the world class trails and other training amenities at Hardwood Ski and Bike and the surrounding area. Hardwood offers 30kms of meticulously groomed trails in winter and 80kms of double and single-track trails for mountain-biking in summer, along with an on-site rental and pro shop, as well as a cafe. SOTC maintains an office, strength and conditioning room, and equipment storage space on site. Surrounding Hardwood are miles of quiet, undulating, newly-paved country roads that are perfect for rollerskiing and cycling. The greater Barrie and Orillia area, meanwhile, is a mecca for outdoor sports and boasts over a dozen cross country and downhill ski areas within a short drive.
Since arriving last June, Petr and the SOTC athletes have become fixtures on the trails and roads around Hardwood Ski and Bike, where they have been logging the miles running, mountain-biking and rollerskiing. In addition, the team has already participated in several training camps. Petr has planned and executed two team training camps so far, one at Horseshoe Valley in July, and a fall camp at the Craftsbury Outdoor Centre in Vermont in early October, held in conjunction with a Team Hardwood junior camp.
After 5 days of hard training, the camp at Horseshoe climaxed with some thrills on the high ropes course at Horseshoe Valley Resort. While the Craftsbury camp was plagued by cold wet weather, the team still managed to get in some quality training that included ski-striding to the gondola station at the top of Mt Mansfield in Stowe, and strength sessions in the sweet fitness room used by the Craftsbury Green Racing Project team. The SOTC squad also participated in the SOD high performance camp hosted by Team Hardwood in August, where, along with over 100 other aspiring elite athletes, they had the opportunity to train with emerging World Cup star Lenny Valjas and other top Canadian skiers such as Mike Somppi, Erin Tribe and Andy Shields.
While the fruits of all their training won’t be evident until the snow flies, their success in a number of recent races testifies both to their fitness and to the effectiveness of Petr’s coaching and training program. All four athletes, for example, have won medals in the popular and very competitive 5 Peaks Trail Running series. Finally, Petr and the athletes have also participated in a number of outreach activities, including a visit to Arrowhead Nordic and the joint training camp with Team Hardwood in Vermont. Additional outreach activities are planned for the winter.
Looking ahead, the SOTC coach and athletes will be traveling to training and racing venues across North America over the next few months. After an early season snow camp in late November at Foret Montmorency in Quebec, they will compete at the 2012 World Jr/U23 Trials in Callaghan Valley, BC, in early January, and then move on to a NorAm competition in Canmore the following weekend. Following this western swing they will return home, where they will prepare for the Eastern Canadian Championships at Nakkertok and the Mt Orford NorAm in February. In March the focus will be on the Haywood Ski Nationals in Mont Ste Anne. Watch for them this winter in their blue and orange custom-designed racing suits courtesy of Mt Borah!
Follow the team’s travels and race results this winter on the newly launched SOTC web site! The site already contains lots of information about the Centre, including program information, coach and athlete profiles, photo galleries, training updates and camp reports. Please visit the SOTC web site HERE, and check for updates regularly.
Finally, SOTC is still accepting athletes for the 2011-12 season. Athlete inquiries should be directed to Petr Jakl at 1-800-387-3775 or email@example.com. Athletes interested in applying to SOTC should send a letter of interest outlining their background in the sport, performance highlights, and future goals in the sport to: Petr Jakl, Coach, Southern Ontario Training Centre, c/o Hardwood Ski and Bike, 402 Old Barrie Rd, Oro, ON, L0L 2E0.
SOTC acknowledges the generous support of its sponsors, including: KRG Children’s Charities; Monette May & Associates; Dalton Pharma Services; and Gulfcom.