Submitted by SOD Program Director, TES Hynes…

The first thing you need to know about FIS/U19 is that it is not complicated! Whether you dream about winning an Olympic medal, getting an athletic scholarship or just racing locally with your friends there is a program for you in Southern Ontario.

Surprisingly our top-ranked Ontario FIS athletes and their parents tell us all the time that racing in U19 is easier to manage than the U16 O-CUP program. The U19/FIS program is simply a continuation of what the athletes are used to but without all the pressure of qualifications. Athletes are generally more relaxed and tend to enjoy the sport more while developing life-long friendships.

Here are the U19 options….

CLUB U19/FIS RACE PROGRAMS (Provincial FIS Card):

U16/U19 SOD Cup blended series. This will include 4 racers on weekends only. U19 aged athletes receive a Provincial FIS card with their registration which also allows them to race in any FIS race in Ontario.

CLUB U19/FIS PROGRAMS (National or International FIS Card):

These programs are open to all graduating U16s and would be slightly more competitive than option 1 but requiring more time on snow and likely pre-season ski camps. Typically, these clubs stay within North America for training camps and race in Ontario and Quebec. Athletes in these programs are required to purchase a National or International FIS license.  There is an option for athletes in these programs who are tracking well to join the SODST on race series or projects. This is a great option for athletes who have not yet ruled out the SODST and potentially OST in the future.

SOUTHERN ONTARIO DIVISION SKI TEAM (SODST)

The SODST is a program for those who potentially aspire to make the Ontario Ski Team and beyond. This program includes selection criteria. There are two levels of qualification to the SODST: Performance Level (PL) and High-Performance Level (HP).

        Performance Level criteria for graduating U16 Skiers (YOB 2004) is as follows:

  • Selection to U16 Nationals.
  • Top 20 overall at U16 O-Cup Finals (Eastern Finals qualifying list).
  • Top 15 in one event at U16 O-Cup Finals.

High-Performance Program criteria for graduating U16 Skiers (YOB 2004):

  • Top 10 at U16 Nationals (top 5 in one top 10 in 2 disciplines).
  • Top 10 at U16 Eastern Can-Am (top 5 in one top 10 in 2 disciplines).
  • Outstanding performance(s) at Whistler Cup.

The SODST has a comprehensive summer dryland program with satellites in Collingwood and Toronto. For the 2020 summer, the team will be offering a high school credit through Simcoe County (SCDCSB) which is Grade 12 Leadership (PLF 4M).

To learn more about the SODST, in general, please visit http://www.sodskiteam.ca/ and to download the selection document please click here>

NOW FOR THE BIG QUESTION: WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL?

We recognize that balancing any competitive winter sport with high school is a juggle. Our feedback of athletes in FIS/U19 tells us that they find balancing school no different than U16 O-CUP. The big difference for the athletes is that in U19/FIS each race series is a standalone series that is not a qualifier for the next set of races so athletes can focus more on school when they must.  Athletes tend to have more flexibility to pick up or drop races based on their schooling or other mitigating factors. For any competitive athlete (skiing or hockey, etc.) it is imperative that they form a close relationship with their high school guidance team. SOD and/or AOA can help explain the sport to guidance staff if supporting letters are required on PSO letterhead.

QUESTIONS?

If you would like more information or support plotting out your U19/FIS racing pathway that includes post-secondary school opportunities please do not hesitate to contact the SOD office, we are here to help support all programs within our division.

TES Hynes
SOD Program Director
Email:  tes@alpineontario.ca
Phone: (705) 444-5111 x133

By: Jean Allen (originally written in 2009) edited by Dave Campbell 2020

On February 8th at Craigleith we hosted the 2020 Raymond James Women’s Nor-Am Dual SL event. This marks over 35 years for Jean Allen being involved in running ski races at Craigleith.  It started as a great way to get skiing privileges at a private club as a member of Craigleith race crew.  Later, once she had kids in racing, she became a team manager for Nancy Green and Mackenzie teams (which is a great way to get involved and help support your children and the sport). As her children got older her involvement in the sport also evolved to higher levels of racing until she became the Chair of the Race Organizing Committee (ROC) for FIS and NORAM races held at Craigleith.  She also went on to take her Officials levels and has a Level 3 National TD designation.

One of the biggest challenges in running a race at the higher levels is finding enough people to volunteer to work on the hill.  It takes about 75 people to run a good quality slalom race.  The jobs vary from gatekeepers to working on crew fixing gates and keeping the course in good condition, side-slipping, timing team plus the officials.  A quote from Jean; “I have has always thought that if you have a kid in the race you should be prepared to help run the race on the hill.  The Lake Louise NORAM downhill is run for the most part by parent volunteers.  We really need your help at these races.”

Some more words from Jean: So, what do you, as a parent, get out of volunteering?  “You get the best seat in the house!”  It’s amazing to watch the kids right there on the side of the course.  They are fantastic athletes and you get a real appreciation for what it takes to succeed at this sport.  Many people tell me they are nervous about helping out in case they mess up a call on a gate, or fall in the course while side slipping.  No worries, there are always lots of people to help you and the organizers will always teach you what to do.  If you are not a strong skier there are still lots of jobs you can do.  There is a great camaraderie amongst the volunteers and we all work as a team to put the race together.

As you get more involved in the sport you should consider taking officials courses.  This may sound intimidating but it is an excellent way to learn and understand the rules of the sport and the points system.

Alpine Ontario runs several Level 1, 2 and 3 Official’s courses in the fall that are listed on the events calendar www.alpineontario.ca/calendar.  You will learn many things such as why the top point holders should finish in the top 10 or what the “c” value is.  It all helps to connect with your teenage athlete, especially when they are going through a slump.

The bottom line is that without parent volunteers ski races will not happen.  We really need the next generation of parents to step up to the plate and get involved in running races.  Over the years I have had a lot of fun and met lots of great people from across Canada and the US.

To help improve your child’s racing experience this winter get involved by volunteering and creating the best possible atmosphere for your child’s season. Let’s come together to make this winter the best season ever! If you are interested please email your Club’s RA or Alpine Ontario to find out more and how you can get involved. ~~ Jean 

Submitted by AOA High-Performance Program, Kip Harrington

Hello ski friends, and welcome to ‘Mid-Season Deep Thoughts, 2020 edition‘. There is a growing vision for ski racing in Ontario, which includes a detailed High-Performance Plan. Before I get to that I would like to talk about my good friend, former athlete and colleague, Johnny Davidson.

Son of Murray and Debbie Davidson, Johnny grew up in Ottawa. He started racing at Camp Fortune Ski Club, then went on the NCO team, the Ontario Team, then the University of Vermont NCAA team. I think there may have been a year off to live and race in Europe at some point. Then Johnny coached the UVM NCAA team while earning his MBA before joining me to coach the Canadian Men’s World Cup Technical Team and Development Team. An unforeseen twist and opportunity led Johnny to coach in Norway, where in a few short years, with a ton of hard work and success he worked his way up to the Norwegian Men’s World Cup Team. Pretty cool right? Johnny’s success is a great indicator of his passion and hard work (and it doesn’t hurt that he is one of the nicer people you will meet). He now works with some of the best skiers in the world. By that, I mean one of Johnny’s racers (age 20) started 34 at Kitzbuhel and won the first run before finishing 4th.

It was Johnny’s birthday a couple of weeks ago so I sent a message with good wishes and we got to talking. I congratulated him on his success and asked what he was working on with his racers. He said: “We are focused on doing the basics to a high standard consistently.” Now, isn’t that interesting? Skiers, among the very best in the world, focused on the basics. He also said that the Norwegian development system is strong.

I started thinking about Norway. Their population is about 5.5 million, or about 1 million less than the GTA. Ski racing is not Norway’s premier sport, that goes to Nordic skiing. Their alpine ski racing population is probably smaller than Ontario’s, and it is limited to a few regions. Yet, they consistently win at every level – World Junior Championships, Europa Cup, World Cup, World Championships, Olympic Games. How do they do that?

There is a PowerPoint presentation called “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast” that outlines the “Attacking Viking” approach and culture. Not to spoil a good read but it makes bold statements like:

  • The Greatest Secret in Sport: Hard work = Good Results”.
  • We will train more with greater variability and with Better Quality.” 
  • “We use our physical conditioning programs to nurture and develop a culture of discipline and hard work.” 
  • “Dare to forge your own path.” 
  • “What was good enough yesterday is not good enough today.” 
  • “Alpine Ski Racing is a Team Sport.” 
  • “You are not good until you make others good.” 
  • “Take ownership of the team’s well-being and performance.” 
  • “Grit: We never give up. There are no excuses.” 
  • “Each Individual establishes the foundation for the next generation to do an even better job.”

Powerful stuff. And it is clearly working. Norway is consistently among the top alpine ski racing nations in the world. So, this is where we get to the main deep thought of 2020. Why don’t we in Ontario try to be the best in the world? I mean, we are a province, not a nation so it is beyond our scope but why wouldn’t we set out to prepare our athletes to be the best in the world? It might seem lofty but we have great athletes and coaches, and clubs and support. What is stopping us?

Looking at the Norwegian strategy document it seems lofty, but when you break it down, the words or ideas that stand out are pretty straightforward… hard work, training, physical fitness, discipline, teamwork, cooperation, innovation, ownership, pride, legacy, and culture. Easier said than done, but this is not a complex strategy. And we know from Johnny D that on hill their focus is on the basics. So again, why would Ontario not be able to do the same?

Over the last few years, Alpine Ontario has been developing a strategy for developing athletes, that has involved outreach with as many clubs and coaches as possible. And, more recently we have moved that forward to start building a more detailed High-Performance Plan, with guidance from the community, and experts in the field. It will lay out a multi-year road map. Spoiler alert, it will include many of the same basic ingredients and principles as the Norwegian culture document.

Now, for any parents reading this, we understand that developing world champions is not the primary reason (or even second or third reason) you put your kids in ski racing. We know that. But we also firmly believe that providing the best possible athletic preparation will enhance their overall experience. It will make them better skiers, more physically fit, more disciplined, more successful, better skiers for life and all-around better prepared for life.

One of the biggest concerns that parents have with supporting their kids in pursuing ski racing at a high level is the impact on academics. There is no doubt it requires hard work and discipline. But in most cases, the experience seems to push athletes to be better prepared academically, not worse. As an example, 5 of the 6 athletes on the current Ontario Ski Team have applied this year to Universities like Harvard, Boston College, McGill, University of New Hampshire, Middlebury. Several plan to continue racing while at school, or defer and continue racing full time. The point is, our racers aren’t just managing athletics and academics. They are thriving at both.

I have no hesitation stating that the goal of our High-Performance Programs is to develop World Cup and Olympic ski racers. But the broader vision is that all of our racers should truly understand and thrive in the sport. And whether they race until they are 16-18-20 or 35, if they work hard and really want it, they can compete with anyone in the world. We will need to aim higher, try harder, and above all work together. We need a strong system. So, we have our work cut out. But who doesn’t like a challenge?

“Ski Fast and Have Fun.”

Thanks for reading

Thanks so much.

Kip

 

As the excitement builds towards next week’s 2020 Raymond James Nor-Am Cup AOA caught up with Georgian Peaks/CAST racer Ali

LIENZ,AUSTRIA,28.DEC.19 – ALPINE SKIING – FIS World Cup, giant slalom, ladies. Image shows Ali Nullmeyer (CAN). Photo: GEPA pictures/ Daniel Goetzhaber

Nullmeyer. Ali, along with Erin Mielzynski, Roni Remme, Candace Crawford, Amelia Smart and Laurence St-Germain will be in the gates next week.

 

Q: How does it feel to come 16th in a World Cup?!! (Congratulations!)..Ali placed 16th in the recent Flachau, AUT Slalom.

A: It felt awesome to get my first World Cup points! I had a challenging couple of weeks, just barely missing the second run for a few races in a row, so it was really cool to throw it in there. Flachau was such a cool race with a lot of fans so to do it there was an added bonus!

 

Q: How have you overcome serious injury?

A: I injured myself in 2017 right before the start of the World Cup season. I tore my ACL and meniscus in both my knees in Soelden, Austria while training for the World Cup opener. It has taken a lot of hard work and time to get back to where I was skiing before my injury. There have been so many people involved in my recovery who I couldn’t have done it without. Between the physical injury and mental struggles of coming back from it, I have to thank my family, friends, coaches, doctors, physios, etc. for sticking with me and helping me continue to pursue my dream of competing at the World Cup level.

 

Q: Do you rely on your teammates for anything specific?

A: I rely on my teammates to take my mind off of skiing. We are all working so hard and are so focused on skiing that it’s important we take time to do other activities. It is always fun playing games or exploring with my teammates.

 

Q: What on-snow drills do you practice all the time?

A: I have a couple of drills that I do every day. One is just traversing across the hill, rolling my knees and ankle slowing two or three times before changing direction and doing it back the other way. Other than that, they change depending on what I am working on throughout the season.

 

Q: What are some of your critical habits for success?

A: Although it can be really challenging some days, I think it’s important to look at every day as a positive learning experience. Even if you didn’t ski well or as fast as you wanted, there are always things to take away from every day of training. I think this has helped me a lot over the years and especially through my rehab.

 

Q: How much do you focus on your fitness and dryland?

A: I’ve always focused a lot on my dryland however I have been much more in tune with it since my injury. Making sure that you are strong enough is crucial in our sport and maintaining this strength throughout the season is really important as well.

 

Q: You have always been known to hold a clean edge and carry speed like nobody else. How did you obtain this superpower?

A: I guess just years of practice! I think it’s something I’ve always had and I’ve been able to build off of it over the years.

 

Q: Did you ever ski downhill on cross country skis?

A: I skied on telemark skis down Champlain one time when I was younger. It was not very pretty…

 

Q: What’s your favourite GP moment?

A: I loved training on Riot as a little kid. You could get so many runs in and it was always so fun!

 

Please join us as we cheer on Ali next week during the Raymond James Nor-Am Cup. Full details and schedule here>

 

Submitted by Stefan Overgaard, Owner of SXS Fitness in Toronto

Increase your calcium intake and protect your bones NOW!

During childhood and adolescence bones are growing at a very fast rate and their bodies are working hard to achieve their peak bone mass. The more we can support this process the better off they will be in the future. Prevention of osteoporosis is really best done in our youth! One great way to support bone health is to encourage healthy eating, particularly increasing calcium and Vitamin D intake.

Health Canada reports that Canadian youth are eating inadequate levels of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium and phosphorous. On top of that, youth athletes have increased nutritional needs compared to their more sedentary peers. Two nutrients of particular concern are calcium and iron. Inadequate calcium intake impacts bone health and has also been linked to shin splints and stress fractures.

To increase calcium intake, eat high-quality organic dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, kefir), leafy greens, broccoli, figs, oranges, almonds, legumes, chia seeds, and seafood. You can also eat foods fortified with calcium like non-dairy milk products, cereals and tofu. Another great approach to supporting bone health is to DECREASE or ELIMINATE soft drink intake. Most sodas, especially colas, are acidic. The body naturally removes calcium from our bones to create a more alkaline environment. The Oslo study shows an association between higher soft drink intake combined with low fruit and vegetable intake leading to lower bone mass density.

So, the next time you are deciding what you want to eat, remember your choice can affect you in so many ways! Not only in the immediate future, impacting your energy levels and digestion, but also long-term effects such as bone health. Say no to the pop, chips, candy, baked goods, fries, and processed food and YES to fruits, vegetables, foods high in calcium and of course, working out hard in the gym!

Visit www.sxsfitness.ca

References:

Antonio et al. Essentials of Sport Nutrition and Supplements. Humana Press, Totowa NJ: 2008.

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/food-nutrition-surveillance/health-nutrition-surveys/canadian-community-health-survey-cchs/canadian-adolescents-meet-their-nutrient-requirements-through-food-intake-alone-health-canada-2012.html#a4

Arne Torbjørn Høstmark,1 Anne Johanne Søgaard,1,2 Kari Alvær,2 and Haakon E. Meyer1,2 The Oslo Health Study: A Dietary Index Estimating Frequent Intake of Soft Drinks and Rare Intake of Fruit and Vegetables Is Negatively Associated with Bone Mineral Density. Journal of Osteoporosis; Volume 2011, Article ID 102686, 7 pages. http://dx.doi.org/10.4061/2011/102686
https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/a-guide-to-calcium-rich-foods/

https://www.dietitians.ca/Downloads/Factsheets/Food-Sources-of-Calcium.aspx

Submitted by Stefan Overgaard, Owner of SXS Fitness in Toronto

Fall is coming to an end, the snow is flying, holidays are around the corner and all of this signifies the arrival of the ski racing competitive season.  If everything went well with your fitness routine you are wrapping up a 3-month dryland training block where hopefully you’ve seen some significant gains (which should be reflected in your fitness testing).  It’s a great feeling going into the competitive season knowing you are strong and ready.  However, the work is NOT over. Fitness gains made in the offseason will diminish significantly if you don’t maintain it.   In other words, if you stop training now you will start deconditioning and lose strength and power which reduces performance and also increases the risk of injury.  This is not to say all your hard work in the offseason is out the window and all for nothing but you will most certainly see a difference.  Think about how your body feels during and after a workout when you haven’t been in the gym for even a couple of weeks- probably you feel weak to the point of frustration during the workout and extremely sore for several days after.  Now think about not training for the entire winter and what happens to the body.

The biggest challenge isn’t convincing athletes of the importance of maintaining fitness levels rather it’s finding the time and managing their schedule to ensure that they are able to do so.  I understand that this is no easy feat in particular for athletes in U16 and up to where this is particularly important.  Starting with the Christmas holidays where you are surrounded by family and friends with parties and engagements plus an intense week plus on hill training camp.  Then moving into January you get exams, February brings a busy race schedule and you get into March with 1-2 weeks of spring break plus the race season ramping up further. By the time you get to April, it’s pure survival… This is not to mention the huge workload that’s taken on for all the missed school plus trying to maintain some sort of social life.  No question, the reality of trying to squeeze in a regular workout routine over the competitive season is difficult.

What many don’t realize is to maintain a level of fitness over a period of 3 months does not have to be a full-blown workout routine.  In fact, pushing too much in the training can be counterproductive as the added fatigue from higher volume training will take away from on hill productivity.  Doing less volume but still at a relatively high intensity is best for preserving your gains without overdoing it and affecting on-hill performance.  Getting in for a workout 1-2 times per week is all you need but you to do need that EVERY week.  You miss a week or two and this strategy will start to become ineffective.  Take the time and make the training a part of your weekly schedule.  Winter is a chaotic time and if you just hope for the best and try to train where can, you’ll hit April with doing a handful of proper workouts while feeling weak and tired.  Mark down the days you plan on training and make it happen!

The big take always here is as follows:

  • If you don’t maintain it you will lose it.
  • Training 1-2 times a week will allow you to sustain fitness gains achieved in offseason.
  • You must train consistently; you can’t miss weeks at a time.
  • Your workouts don’t need as much volume, but still relatively high intensity (e.g push hard but don’t do as many reps or for as long, you want to simulate the body but don’t completely fatigue it).
  • Winter is crazy busy if you don’t make training a part of your weekly schedule the likelihood of keeping up with the training is very low.

www.sxsfitness.ca

 


DECEMBER 12, 2019 — This week AOA caught up with Ontario’s only female Ski Cross Head Coach, Victoria Fenninger. Victoria is a well-recognized face on the racing circuit and recently completed her Performance Level (PL) Training Coaching level. Here is her story and a glimpse into Ontario and Canada’s Ski Cross pathway.


Q: Before we talk about SX as a sport can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be the only female SX Head Coach in Ontario. 

This is my fifth season as Program Director and Head Coach for Fenninger Racing based out of Sir Sam’s Ski Area in Haliburton. We have a travelling ski cross team that ranges from U12 to FIS. Fenninger Racing supports athletes at local Ski Cross and Alpine races and select races on the FIS and NorAm circuit. We also run local training for athletes from U8 to Masters racers at both Sir Sam’s in Haliburton and midweek SL training at the Earl Bales Ski Centre in North York.

I started coaching at Sir Sam’s 20 years ago and was promoted to Head Coach for their in-house race programs for 4 years before starting Fenninger Racing. Skiing has always been at the centre of my family’s life. My parents met skiing at Mont-Sainte-Anne.

I have three sisters and we all started skiing at 2 years old. We are all racers, coaches and instructors, including our parents. Sir Sam’s has had a dedicated Snowboard Cross (SBX) track for over 20 years. We grew up racing Boardercross before Ski Cross (SX) was a sport. For years, I competed in Ontario Snowboard (formerly Association of Ontario Snowboarders) and Freestyle Ontario events. I won a few local SBX events and a Slopestyle event but chose not to travel the full circuit because I was already committed to coaching skiing most weekends. When SX became a sport, Sir Sam’s was one of the first Ontario resorts to host a yearly open SX race in conjunction with SBX races.

I still love racing and try to find races that fit around my coaching schedule. When possible, I head to Whistler for the Peak to Valley where I have a few top 10 finishes and a third-place team result. I have also won the Queen of the Hill at Sir Sam’s for eight seasons!

Q: It seems like it was a natural progression for you to start a SX program? 

Yes, I guess it was. Because of my history racing SBX and SX and my history as Head Coach of the in-house Alpine programs at Sir Sam’s, I was approached by a couple of families with racers that wanted to compete in SX events outside of our local races that needed a local AOA sanctioned club to do so. I talked to Sir Sam’s about the option but they did not have the resources to start a travelling team. They agreed that I was the right candidate to take on the role but suggested that I create a race club separate from their ski school.

Before I started Fenninger Racing, our racers from Sir Sam’s did well in local ski cross events. In 2012 we sent some local racers to train with Podium of Life at Mount Washington where they competed in their first out of province SX event and one of them placed 2nd in the U14 category.

The success of the Canadian Ski Cross team at the last few Olympic Games has inspired a new generation of athletes and opened another avenue to bring new participants to the sport of skiing. Athletes on the Canada Ski Cross Team have a strong GS race background and continue to develop their GS and SL skills alongside their SX training. For any athlete that is interested in racing ski cross, it’s important to highlight the importance of training other alpine disciplines, especially GS, in order to hone the skills required to ski a SX track adeptly.

 

Q: If you could have anything you’d like in this sport, what would it be?

Great question! Two things:

  • Grassroots programs with a unified pathway to support SX athletes across Canada. Western Canada already has a head start on this. Their Western SX series hosts events across Alberta and BC for U12, U14, U16 and Open categories. They also maximize course builds by coordinating FIS SX events at some of the same venues. Alberta has also integrated the Alberta Ski Cross Team members with their Alberta Ski Team allowing them to share resources between Alpine and SX. It helps that Canada Ski Cross and Alpine Canada are based out of Calgary. They are an amazing resource for all the local clubs.
  • Integration of SX events with Alpine events. I would love to see a SX and GS double event. Athletes could use the same pair of skis for both races – no need for multiple sets of equipment. It would also be great to see more creative GS training environments using SX and GS gates with varying turn shapes.

 

Q: What do you think about the state of ski cross in Ontario specifically?

It’s great to see Ontario offering FIS, NorAm and World Cup SX events in the past few seasons. It means that athletes in this region don’t have to travel to western Canada or the US in order to get FIS starts. This makes it much more cost-effective to work on building FIS SX points. I used my experience as an official at previous World Cup SX events to bring the first FIS SX event to Sir Sam’s back in 2017. It was the first year we had an Eastern FIS series in Ontario. Ontario Snowboard has also done a lot to help build ski cross in Ontario. By hosting combined SBX and SX events across Ontario for U12, U14, U16 and Open categories, it allows SX racers access to events that we would be unable to host without the funding, equipment and experience of the organizers and volunteers at Ontario Snowboard. We do seem to be hitting critical mass though as the SX participants are outnumbering SBX participants at some events. I expect sometime in the near future, as SX event turnout continues to grow, Alpine Ontario will have to work with Ontario Snowboard to begin organizing and hosting events separate from the Ontario Snowboard series, however, this would require a significant investment in equipment including a start gate that can be transported to different event locations.

It would be great to follow the Alberta Alpine model and build more provincial support from SOD and OST for ski cross racers moving from U16 to FIS.

Alberta has become a ski cross hub, and from a cost perspective, have enough athletes to make it viable for coaches to travel with the team to races on the FIS and NorAm circuit. It would be great to see more ski cross athletes able to represent their home province at the FIS and NorAm level. Compared to a couple of seasons ago, we have made a huge step in the right direction in terms of how many new coaches and officials are now trained for SX events. Now we just need to develop those coaches and officials and create opportunities for them to learn from those with more experience in SX events.

And in Canada?

There has been some amazing progress in Ontario over the last few years in the U10 – U12 age range of events but we are still behind compared to the western provinces for infrastructure for U16 and FIS level athletes. At spring training camps in Alberta, the track is built by Alpine Canada/Canada Ski Cross (CSX) for the CSX spring camp for the national team and the development team tryouts. Alberta Ski Cross and local clubs piggyback on the camp and have access to a well-built track and GS lane for usually about a week of training. Olympic, National and Development team athletes using the same training environment as U16 and FIS athletes is an amazing opportunity to grow the sport. The younger athletes get to see what top athletes in the world look like training on the same features they train on. It’s also great for the younger athletes to be able to see role models and what the next levels of skill look like compared to where they are in their skill development. It’s rare to see the integration of this many levels of athletes all in one training environment. It creates a tightly knit ski cross-community and helps reinforce the pathways to success and highlights each of the stepping stones. It’s also a great opportunity for the coaches of athletes at each of these levels to interact, share, and learn from each other.

 

Q: Words of advice for other ski clubs who might not yet have a Ski Cross program.

You don’t need a dedicated program or even a ski cross track to train for SX events. Smaller hills can be an ideal setting for SX training. Even if the athletes are not interested in competing in a SX event, the training will help them become a more versatile skier.

Here are some training ideas that could be implemented at any hill:

  • Set brushes on natural bumps, rollers and varied terrain (no need to build anything)
  • Free ski on ungroomed or uneven terrain
  • Get creative with GS sets, change up the turning radius throughout a course
  • Find a hill to set a fallaway (negative) turn in a GS course
  • Have athletes chase each other in a course
  • Find flat terrain and practice gliding, tucking, maintaining speed, drafting, and generating speed on small features or even grooming imperfections.

Q: What’s it like being a female ski coach in a very male-dominated industry?

I sometimes have to be blunt and direct than I like to be in order to be heard at coaches’ meetings. When people first meet me, because I have a slight build and look younger than I am, I am often discounted, and most people don’t realize that I’ve been actively coaching for 20 years. I find that once I get a chance to work closely with other coaches, they get a better sense of my experience and I have fewer issues. I don’t try to prove anything by talking about my experience. I find it much more effective to lead by example and be a great coach and foster a positive team culture. No one can argue with results and my team has had some amazing results.

 

Q: Words of advice for other women who coach.

Stand up for yourselves! If you have the experience and knowledge to contribute, make sure you do. We need female voices alongside other voices to grow the sport. Take advantage of any opportunity you have to learn and broaden your coaching experience. Work with as many experienced coaches as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Continue to learn and be open to new ideas and opportunities. We need more females as role models in our sport. There are disproportionately more male coaches than female coaches, especially at higher levels. Having a competent female coach may be the difference for those looking to be athletes and also future coaches.

 

Q: What’s the hardest part of coaching?

Seeing an athlete move on; it’s bittersweet. I spend so much time really getting to know my athletes. I learn how to best motivate, encourage and impart information for each unique athlete. It’s a very personal relationship a coach builds with each individual athlete. I support all the athletes I used to coach and always wish them well in their future endeavors.

 

Q: What’s the easiest and most rewarding part of coaching?

Seeing current and former athletes finding success in both skiing and life. I love being able to watch an athlete improve and grow as an athlete and a person. It’s amazing to see an athlete honing a new skill, especially one that they initially struggled with but then begin to see the results of their hard work.

I also love to hear positive feedback from parents. I had some parents come to talk to me at the end of the season to thank me for the noticeable improvement in both their kids’ skiing skills. They also added that since they joined the race team, their confidence had noticeably improved along with their grades in school. To me, the best reward a coach can receive is to hear that they are positively contributing to their athlete’s lives. That’s what makes this all worthwhile.

AOA Q&A’s are completed by Communication Manager, Kristin Ellis. 

Kickstart Your Season at Our Back to Snow Camp!

At Alpine Ontario, we are excited to host a 2-day Back to Snow Camp in partnership with the Glacier Ski Club and Mt. S.t Louis Moonstone (MSLM) for U10/U12/U14 athletes, their coaches, and officials. This is your opportunity to try out your new gear, hit the slopes, and prepare yourself for a great season ahead. You’ll even learn from the best – AOA’s U12 Athletic Consultant Bennett Carter and the Head Coach of the Glacier Ski Club – Mitch McDermid – will be just two of the leaders running the camp.

Kickstart Your Season at Our Back to Snow Camp!

  • Who—All U10-U16 athletes are invited to attend along with all coaches and officials
  • What—Back to Snow Athlete, Coaching, and Officials Camp
  • When—Friday December 6 through Saturday December 7, 2019
  • Where—Mt. St. Louis Moonstone
  • Cost—For athletes, the 2-day price is $170, and for coaches, the price is $50 per day

What will you get out of this 2-day Back to Snow Camp? For starters, both athletes and coaches will come away from this inaugural seasonal camp even better and more confident when it comes to cruising down the slopes on their skis. On top of this, together, athletes and their coaches will learn more about the SUPER CAMP approach, which is designed by the province’s top coaches and instructors.

Note that if you are an athlete, you can attend without your coach, and if you are a coach, you can still attend without your athletes. Develop your skills and become an even better ski racer by joining us at our Back to Snow Camp – register today!

Submitted by Stefan Overgaard, Owner of SXS Fitness in Toronto

Testing is done! Now What?

Fall testing is now behind us, so now what? What is the best way to make the most out of the testing experience? There isn’t much point in doing testing if you just show up, do the testing and ignore your results. The whole idea of testing is to take a ‘snapshot’ of your current fitness level and identify your strengths and weaknesses. From there build and execute a plan focusing on those scores which will increase fitness levels and ultimately improve performance and reduce the risk for injury.  It’s that simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy…  We highly recommend carefully going over scores and looking at what areas you need to improve on. Maybe it is cardiovascular, mobility, strength or power that needs focus. After identifying areas, SET GOALS for the next testing period.  Go through the process with your coach if you can.

Setting goals on what you would like to improve and, by how much, is a great next step. Remember when setting goals we want them to be “SMART”:

S-specific
M-measurable
A-attainable
R-relevant
T-time bound.

When creating your goals for the spring testing try to keep things SIMPLE as well! Don’t over complicate what you are focusing on, or your goals. If your lowest scores were in the box jump, create a goal to get 8 more jumps for the next testing. You can also look at the testing norms and set a goal to get to the next colour (red to yellow, yellow to green).

PLANNING and accountability are also very important factors to consider. We all have set goals with great intentions of making gains whether it be in school, sport or life in general, but unless you have a plan you are far less likely to achieve it; “If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail”. Create a schedule of what you will do and when you will complete it in order to achieve your goal. Make sure you track your progress and set mini-goals to achieve between now and the next testing.  Back up this planning by having someone (peer, coach, parent) follow up on your progress and try to follow your with your plan at least once a week.

Remember, testing is a tool we use to identify fitness levels, the real work is the determined execution of a properly laid out fitness program.

 

Submitted by Stefan Overgaard, Owner of SXS Fitness in Toronto

Fall flavours have arrived! Pumpkin is everywhere; in your pie, muffins, coffee, so why not your smoothie as well? Pumpkin’s bright orange flesh means extra antioxidants and phytonutrients. Pumpkin is very high in Vitamin A, C, Riboflavin, copper and manganese.  It also is high in dietary fibre, which helps the body in many ways from balancing our blood sugar levels to aiding in a smooth and easy “number two”. No one’s favourite topic, but extremely important for your health?.

This smoothie recipe below also has a healthy dose of coconut milk.  Although high in saturated fat, it is mainly composed of medium-chain triglycerides which are processed differently in the body and translate to less fat storage and more energy production.  It will help you feel full and give you added energy for your day!  A final point is, beware of imitators- the flavour shot inside your latte won’t contain all the amazing nutrients real pumpkin has to offer.  Stick with the real thing and enjoy the natural flavour and all the benefits that come with it.

Try out this creamy smoothie in the morning to get your day started right.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (chill in the fridge overnight)
  • 3 frozen bananas
  • ¾ cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon ½ tsp, cloves ¼ tsp, nutmeg ¼ tsp)
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract

Optional:

  • 2 scoops of protein powder (vanilla flavoured- whey/vegan)
    • You will likely need to add about ½ cup of extra liquid if adding protein powder

Directions:

  1. Place bananas in a blender, pulse, then coconut milk, pulse, then the rest of the ingredients
  2. Blend until smooth
  3. Add milk of choice (dairy/coconut/cashew/almond/rice/oatmeal) or water to thin if desired

Recipe can be found at: https://beamingbaker.com/vegan-pumpkin-pie-smoothie-paleo-vegan-gluten-free-dairy-free/

If you have specific questions about this article or SXS ski-specific training please feel free to contact Stefan directly stefan@sxsfitness.ca