COLLINGWOOD, ON (May 25, 2021) – Alpine Ontario Alpin’s (AOA) Board of Directors are pleased to announce the appointment of racing veteran and community leader Patrick Biggs, as Executive Director effective June 1, 2022.

An ambassador for our sport and accomplished business leader, Patrick has had a long and storied career in the ski racing world.  Biggs’ alpine journey started out on a small hill outside of Ottawa and he progressed through the National Capital Division (NCD) regional team, Ontario Ski Team, and the NCAA before joining the Canadian National Alpine Team and representing Canada at two Olympics.

“I’m incredibly passionate about our sport, building a strong community and bringing the joy of racing to athletes, clubs, coaches, officials, volunteers and our partners across the province,” said Biggs. “Whether it’s creating more athletic opportunities, supporting clubs and coach education, or introducing new families to our sport, I’m looking forward to working with our team and stakeholders to shape the future of ski racing in Ontario.”

Patrick competed on the World Cup circuit for eight seasons and had two top 10 finishes at the World Championships. Since graduating from Dartmouth College in 2012, Patrick has become a successful entrepreneur and artist while volunteering and acting as an ambassador for the sport. He’s also held seats at various regional and national ski organizations over the past 10 years including seven years as a coach and Program Director at the largest ski club in the Ottawa/Gatineau region, the Camp Fortune Ski Club.  Recently, Patrick has been working on successful brand collaborations and creative projects while supporting the National Capital Outaouais Ski Team and working as a coach developer and facilitator with Alpine Canada Alpin.

“Patrick is a product of our alpine community – an athlete, coach, club member and leader that grew up in the system, and competed at the highest levels,” said Linsey Ferguson, AOA Board Chair. “He’s a creative and dynamic leader known for his ability to connect, inspire and build an inclusive vision for our sport – we’re excited to have him at the helm as we chart a new course.”

After a challenging yet rewarding return to racing in Ontario, AOA remains focused on enhancing the race experience for our members and the alpine community. Core to our long-term success will be a renewed focus on communication, strategic planning, and resourcing.  AOA is also dedicated to delivering enhanced coach education content, club development initiatives, Safe Sport protocols and a robust athletic pathway that connects our community and progressive programming with dreams and podiums. AOA will be making more announcements in the coming months as we prepare for the season ahead.

 

About Alpine Ontario

Alpine Ontario Alpin (AOA) is the Provincial Sport Organization recognized by Alpine Canada Alpin (ACA), Canadian Snowsports Association, Ontario Winter Games, Canada Winter Games, and the Ontario Government.

Made up of a dynamic and passionate team of professionals, AOA is responsible for bringing the joy of ski racing to athletes, families, coaches, and clubs – from start gates and podium finishes to careers and community. And we’re on a mission to empower a safe, inclusive, and integrated alpine sport ecosystem, for everyone. Racer, ready.

J-Craft is known for creating exceptional watercrafts used for water skiing, wakeboarding, barefooting – you name it! For decades these boats have been part of the culture and tradition of sport on Ontario waterways. With their exceptional quality, drive and precision,  J-Craft is the best of the best when it comes to navigating the water and creating the right conditions for that ultimate wake.  The iconic brand is making a resurgence in the area thanks to Chris Holmes and his small but mighty team. We sat down with the folks of J-Craft to get a glimpse into their studio and why supporting the ski community is important.

The parallels of being on the water or being on snow when it comes to skiing are limitless. Both sports have a need for speed, endurance, and skill. It takes the right conditions on the field of play to have a successful run and the essential and intricate design elements of a J-Craft boat enables the skier to have the best on-ski or barefoot experience for recreational or competitive use on the water. The handmade quality and engineering of their crafts allows a fast speed, plus an easy to maneuver machine that creates a softer, smoother wake so that people of all ages and athletic levels can get out and enjoy the waves.

“It’s about getting outdoors with friends and family and enjoying what nature has to offer. In the winters we’re out on the snow, in the summer we can’t wait to get out on the water,” says Chris Holmes, President of J-Craft. “Just like you need the right skis and equipment to be out on the slopes, you need the right boat to make the right wake for those skiing on the water. That’s where J-Craft really comes in and shines.”

Not only does J-Craft specialize in motorized boats, but J-Craft is also a builder of custom canoes, produced in “limited builds” in accordance with a client’s specific requirements, great for wilderness adventures or casual cottage jaunts, their vessels are top notch. There might even be electric-powered boats on the horizon, so stay tuned.

With the end of ski season just around the corner, many of us are starting to think about our time off the hill and our time on the water at the cottage or beach. Many ski racers hang up their speed suits and trade them in for swimsuits and head out onto the lakes and rivers for some fun. Don’t be surprised if you see a few J’s out there this summer.  J-Craft shows their support for the ski community while they’re on the snow all season and they look forward to seeing you out on the water soon!

Click here for more info on J-Craft and to explore what the J-Craft studio has to offer.

It’s been nothing short of an incredible month for Jack Crawford. The newly minted Olympic Bronze medallist who spent his childhood shredding at Georgian Peaks Ski Club in Collingwood just picked up some new hardware in Norway  – a silver medal in Super G. It’s been a wild ride for Jack, who took some time in between racing in Norway and France to answer some Q&As with AOA about his journey.

 

What was your initial reaction when you realized you had won bronze in Alpine Combined at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games?

I was a little stressed when everything was going on. I was  worried that my run wasn’t quite good enough as the guys started to slowly slide in behind me. It all started to become more real as the race went on. But when I actually stepped up behind the podium that’s when it finally started to feel real. It was all around an exciting moment and the cherry on top for the Olympics personally. Downhill was one I really wanted and was SO CLOSE. To have those 3 guys just ahead of me, that one definitely stung a little bit but it kept me hungry. Then I go into Super G and have just as close of a race. So going into Alpine Combined – it would have eaten at me to not have gotten that medal with everything so close in the Games. The bronze helped me mentally push forward and keep pushing for the rest of the season.

 

How heavy is that bronze medal? Is it tough to race with? Do you ever take it off?

I’m planning on bringing it home to my parents. They are one of the main reasons why I’m here today, so they deserve to have it. I’ve never been a huge fan of wearing the medals. I’ve always been someone who wears them in the moment and then takes them off right away. I’ve never been someone to wear and show off what I’ve done. If you ask me, I’ll always let you see it and hold it – it’s pretty cool, but I’m not one to bring it around and show it to people who don’t know who I am.

 

What is your process of getting ready for a race?

That’s a hard one to answer for me. The process – I have the things that I do everyday. Recovery, warm up – all of that pretty much stays the same and is a little bit dictated on how my body is feeling on that day. Other than that, whatever mood I am in, I’ll listen to different music and get into a head space where I’m calm, relaxed and enjoying what I’m doing. I focus through inspection and through my warm up, but in between that I’m not focused on ski racing at all until the 5 minutes before I push through the gate. I try to keep it really light and fun because at the end of the day if you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing, then what’s the point.

For me overthinking and over-preparing  is something that is very real in our sport and it’s almost easier to be fast when you’re just not thinking and just doing what you know how to do.

 

What is your favourite part of racing?

Skiing, for sure! There’s so much to love about it, but for sure when you’re skiing at the highest level the feeling of coming down some of those big courses and flowing at some of those crazy speeds, there’s nothing quite like it. And when you’re on the World Cup tour it’s super easy to take it for granted because if you actually think about it, not too many people actually get to ever ski those courses.  For me, it’s really all about being grateful and getting to have the opportunity to be on these courses that only 60-70 people a year get to ski and getting to do that year in and year out in my career? That’s pretty incredible.

 

What do you think about as you’re sitting in the start hut before runs?

I try to stay loose and stay relaxed until about 5-10 minutes before. Once I’m in the start house I think about my few key points that need to happen for me to be successful. I’m never thinking about winning or anything like that, I’m thinking about what needs to be accomplished to win that race. And if you trust your plan and you trust those things that work for you when you push into that start gate, the majority of the time you’ve put yourself into a position to do well in that race but you never expect to win the race. You put yourself in the best place that you can.

 

Do you have any special routines or things you do before a race like listen to pump up songs?

I kinda jump between music genres. So nothing specific. A lot of EDM, lo-fi beats. It ranges from super hardcore EDM all the way to mellow chill music depending on how I’m feeling or that certain day.

 

To what do you attribute your success? How do you transition this success to future success?

Something I have always been told by so many people is that “hard work always pays off”. And it seems like such an easy thing to say as a coach or a person. Hard work does pay off but you have to be willing to put it in and I think a lot of people who think they work hard, think they do enough, it is never enough. When you’re low and things aren’t going well and you’re not winning and you’re not even contending with those top athletes, you just continue to put in the work and continue to be dedicated. You will see results at some point. Nothing is guaranteed but if you’ve ever thought you’re doing enough or that you’ve done enough to get to where you are, it never is. The hard world does pay off but you can never think that you’re working hard because if you think you’re working hard then you’re not working hard enough. Always keep pushing.

 

What are your favourite ski racing memories?

There are many. All my first best races, the first time down each track, all of those are memories I hope will stick with me forever. For sure this past Olympic Games and this past race series. Things will come close, but this past weekend in Norway was a huge, huge step in my career and my team. Cam Alexander, one of my best friends over the past few years, watching him get his medal and being able to share a second place over this weekend is a memory I’ll never forget. I don’t really see much else topping that. Being able to share massive parts of both of our careers in the same venue, on the same weekend is pretty phenomenal. I’ve heard people say that success is more fun when it’s done as a team and I can certainly agree with that. When the whole team is skiing well and getting results, of course you want to be the top guy. But even if you’re not, seeing people on your team get those big results is so much more fun to celebrate when you’re with people who are also having fun. If you’re the only one seeing results and everyone else is struggling it’s not quite the same.

 

If you could give one piece of advice to 15 year old Jack, what would it be?

You don’t actually have that much time, so don’t waste it.

 

What’s next for you and what are you excited about?

I’ve got one more race weekend where I need to be locked in, but this has been my first real season on the World Cup tour. The last few seasons I was in the top 30 in Super G and Downhill was a work in progress, but this was the first year where I was a competitor from the start the season in both Downhill and Super G. One of the biggest things I’ve always wondered is why the World Cup athletes rarely make it to Canadian Nationals or Spring Series. I still think we should try our best to go to those events, this year it unfortunately doesn’t work out with other events, but it makes sense to me now why athletes don’t make it there. The amount of mental stress and fatigue that you go through in a World Cup season is hard. I need to stay focused. I have high expectations this coming weekend. But I’m so excited to just go home, see my girlfriend, see my family and decompress for a few weeks before getting back into ski training and dry land to prep for next season.

 

How can Canadians and Ontarians support your journey?

Just tune in!! I grew up in Ontario, I have so many family and friends and amazing people behind me there and I spend quite a bit of time in BC. A lot of my friends are out there and a lot of people support me there too. Honestly, if people are watching and enjoying what they are seeing and really want to tune in and want to get their kids into skiing, that’s kinda my dream. As much as I want to be the best ski racer in the world and have success, there’s also something about passing on what I’ve learned and what the older guys have passed down to me. As long as kids, families and people are watching and being inspired, that makes me happy.

 

And last but not least, will the moustache make a comeback?

Some people like the moustache, others not so much. I was indifferent. It’s been a fun little thing I’ve been doing all season. For sure next year, maybe every year. I’ll probably have one in Lake Louise and I’ll probably keep one every now and again. It’s all just for fun, for sure no superstition around it!

 

Jack is headed home to Canada in soon for some much deserved time with family and friends. He now sits fifth in the World Cup in Super-G and 14th overall. With an exceptional season under his belt this year, we cannot wait to see him fly down the slopes next season!

We recently sat down with Alexia Tam, Alpine Canada’s Manager of Safe Sport to learn a little more about the importance, the resources and how to navigate the world of safe sport to ensure the safety of our ski community. 

What is safe sport?

AOA, together with ACA, is committed to being a national and international leader in advancing inclusive, healthy, rights-based, safe sport for all individuals. Specifically, we strive to be an equitable and inclusive community, rich with diversity, protecting the human rights of all persons and based upon understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of every person. We believe every athlete from grassroots to the national team should feel safe in their sport journey along with their coaches, officials and family.

 

So what does safe sport include?

A safe sport environment is one in which all sport participants recognize, and report acts of maltreatment and prioritize the welfare, safety, and rights of every person at all times. Under the safe sport umbrella also includes responsible coaching, equality, diversity and inclusion, and concussion awareness. Everything from abuse, harassment, bullying and injury. A huge part of safe sport is education and awareness, in Alexia’s position she often works with organizations like AOA and smaller individual clubs, along with the National team to create and distribute all safe sport programming.

 

What is the best way to approach safe sport?

Getting out and being connected! It’s so important to stay engaged with not just the athletes but parents and coaches. Everyone plays a part in safe sport. The end goal is to create the best sporting environment where everyone can be their best versions of themselves both on and off the slopes and that includes being safe, inclusive and welcoming. Athletes, parents, coaches and officials should all feel comfortable approaching a member of their community that makes them feel safe when bringing up any questions or concerns. You can also report maltreatment yourself. More information on this can be found on ACA’s website here

 

How is safe sport changing?

There has been a progressive shift over the years from reactive to preventative. Organizations, like AOA are seeing the value and benefit of investing in resources upfront to create a system of support ahead of time. Ideally, we are working towards a culture with zero negative experiences throughout one’s sporting career. There’s still a lot of work to be done going forward, but the commitment to make safe sport a top priority is driving the change we need. It’s about changing the narrative of safe sport from being something negative, to something positive that we should all feel safe and treat one another with kindness and respect, no matter our role. It’s all about teamwork, communication, education and understanding.

One of the most important aspects of safe sport is creating a welcoming, inclusive and kind community that enables athletes, coaches, officials and parents to work together and create an environment free of maltreatment that supports everyone in becoming the best they can be anywhere in life.

Alexia will be the facilitator of the Women in Ski Racing Initiative event –  Investing in our Future: Keeping Girls & Women in Sport on March 14th at Georgian Peaks Ski Club. She welcomes you to join her and ask any questions you may have on safe sport at the event. 

For a list of amazing resources and information you can visit the ACA Safe Sport Resource page here or the AOA Safe Sport resource page here. If you wish to take the free Coaching Association of Canada’s Safe Sport training  you can do so here

Sporting Life has been a pillar for Canadians when it comes to ski apparel and equipment. Living the Sporting Life is about taking everything in and enjoying every minute of it including ski, aprés ski and the little moments in between. As a proud partner of Alpine Ontario, they have been a key player in the success of our athletes and coaches on and off the slopes, making sure they are outfitted, have their skis tuned and boots fit, and have access to experts at their stores for all of their ski equipment needs.

Sporting Life’s store in Collingwood has been a community cornerstone in Collingwood for 20 years. Store Manager Andy Hotson has been there since 2002 and became store manager in 2014. He has seen generations of families come through the doors, making sure they have what they need to have a fun and fruitful ski season.

In early 2020, the iconic Sporting Life store had a major fire. It wasn’t until the next morning that they realized it was a complete loss. 

“The community is what gets you through. I remember people stopping me on the street the next day, making sure I was okay and that staff were safe. They continued to check in whether they saw me on the hill or just getting groceries, always asking what the next chapter was and if a new store was in the works.” said Andy.

He knew that with the overwhelming support of the community there was no question that they had to rebuild and the plans were set in motion. In the meantime they opened up a temporary location. By early December 2020, the temporary store was up and running, fully stocked with skis, boots, poles and accessories enabling them to suit up their customers and continue to maintain the incredible relationships they had built with their local neighbourhood, including Alpine Ontario.

Sporting Life has always put community first, helping local families get the gear they need to enjoy the outdoors. Whether that’s skis or boots, they have experts on staff to help you find what best suits your needs when it comes to hitting the slopes.

In the spring of 2021, reconstruction at the Hurontario location began in the midst of the pandemic, supply issues and restrictions. The new store opened its doors on November 27 last year, welcoming the community back to a place that, while brand new, it felt very familiar, like home. The full team of staff are back with their personal knowledge and expertise that has helped many including some of Canada’s top athletes. They have even added a brand-new Wintersteiger Jupiter ski-tuning machine.

Ready for you this ski season and for many seasons to come, Sporting Life is a place where community comes together, sharing a passion for the outdoors.

You can stop by the new shop at 222 Hurontario Street in Collingwood or shop online at www.sportinglife.ca

It’s interesting to reflect on how coaching education has changed significantly from the mid 70’s. My first 2-day coaching course was with the Alpine Coaches Association of Ontario. We didn’t have a lot of reference material at the time, just showed up, skied and learned how we could ski better. The following winter was the start of my coaching education pathway. I signed up for the Level 1 Canadian Ski Coaches Federation (CSCF) course. We were presented with a quarter inch thick manual with information on the four levels of coaching, race organization and FIS rules, ski preparation, a few ski drills and physical conditioning exercises. As I continued to learn from other coaches, I obtained my Level 2 & 3 CSIA and then Level 2 CSCF as coaching had integrated with the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP). Coaching education took on a whole new form, still with a lot of emphasis on technical skiing, but now there was a broader range of information and larger manuals relating to coaching and skill development. I continued the education pathway attaining my Level 2 and 3 Race Officials courses and then Level 3 CSCF Coach Certification. A few more educational courses in recent years allowed for transition into a Performance Level (PL) Certified Coach and NCCP – Master Coach Developer.

In the early 80’s I was inspired to become a CSCF Course Conductor/Examiner after passing my Level 3 Coach course. The hard work began with learning how to deliver course materials effectively, understanding teaching and coaching methodology, physical and psychological training principles and honing skiing skills. Course conductor training was usually held in Quebec or Alberta ahead of skiing season in Ontario. Attending courses over the years, it allowed me to better understand the challenges coaches face from other regions in Canada. Over the years we have transitioned from Course Conductors to Learning Facilitators (LF’s) and Mentors. Our Canadian sport organizations changed the coach certification levels from Level 1 to 4 Senior Coach to Entry, Development, Performance and High-Performance Level designations, more integrated with the NCCP, Coaching Association of Canada and Sport Canada requirements. 

Changes to the coaching course format have been improving significantly. In the early days of examining, we had one Level 1 course at Mount St Louis with 125 candidates and 14 examiners. You can only imagine how we monopolized an entire ski run for a good portion of a day for ski offs. Then, everyone was evaluated on a skiing level scale of 1-10 over four skiing skills. Can you imagine lining up 125 candidates at the top of a hill and standing around waiting for your turn? Course candidate numbers are more reasonable now and the ratio of facilitator to candidate is 1:8 ideally. Why? To create a more inclusive interaction and the ability to share experiences and knowledge amongst the group. Today, evaluations have been updated to different skill levels: Initiation – Needs Improvement, to the Meets Expectation categories of Acquisition, Consolidation and Refinement.  There’s more room for relevant critique and discussion for self-improvement. It’s the change towards more competency-based education that has made a huge difference in the delivery of course information. While high standards of skiing are required for each level, it’s the overall coaching knowledge and how to coach better that is the base of our success. It allows us to work more effectively with our athletes, share in their success and provide better skill training through coach mentoring programs.   

It is my hope Alpine Canada and Provincial Sport Organizations will formulate a return to pre-season on snow training for club coaches. It’s a great way to start the ski racing season with relevant technical discussions/coaching ideas and principles, with the opportunity to tune up your individual skiing. We can still reference material in books and manuals while the preferred methods have changed to on-line seminars and meetings. There is still nothing better than on snow training to solidify technical skills or training concepts. There are many more online courses one must to be compliant and meet annual certification standards. While time consuming, it protects the athletes, coaches and organizations supporting ski racing. Safety of our athletes in training on and off the hill helps our programs, skill development and is a significant step forward. 

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to facilitate Entry and Development Level Courses across Canada and gain so many friendships along the way. To those senior & head coaches/instructors, mentors, coaching partners, friends, fellow facilitators, athletes, parents, Alpine Ontario, Alpine Canada and NCCP – THANK YOU for contributing to my passion for coaching over all these years. Much of what I have learned through coaching, I have been able to transfer into life and business skills. I may have hung up my facilitator helmet after 36 years but will continue to be involved with ski racing and coaching for many years to come. Set your goals and you can achieve them! 

For those just starting, in a full-time coaching career or a weekend coach – learn from your mentors/peers, try things outside your comfort zone in a safe environment, support your athletes and programs. Be sure to have fun along the way and ensure your athletes are engaged. Remember to thank coaches or mentors who will or have helped you achieve success along your journey.  Coach with passion, commitment, and purpose, while continuing along your own coaching pathway. Good luck!

Known for creating communities that are meaningful, purposeful and incorporate the unique needs and lifestyles of the people who live in their neighbourhoods, Georgian Communities truly creates a home like no other.  For those who see skiing as a lifestyle, Georgian Communities curates and delivers not just a place to live, but an entire experience set to make and cultivate memories for years to come. As a proud partner of Alpine Ontario, they see the importance of supporting an alpine lifestyle both on and off the slopes. In this edition of RACELINE, we got to chat with Leanne Mackle, General Manager, Sales from Georgian Communities to get an inside glimpse of what’s to come and how they want you to live remarkably.

Leanne is a strong believer in community. Building lifelong friendships and connections are important to her, which is something she also loves about the ski community – it’s the camaraderie, competition and most of all the friends and family you get to spend time with on the hill who make it so incredible. Après isn’t too bad either!

Her love for bringing people together and being involved in the community are values she shares with the team at Georgian Communities. A family-oriented company that sees passion in purpose and wants to build a lifestyle within it’s communities by catering to the needs of those who live there. 

The main focus at Georgian Communities is to ensure the overall experience, from sales to closing your dream home, is an enjoyable, above and beyond experience for all homeowners. 

“Our homeowners are always looking for that “community” feel with that ideal location that is close to their home club but also incorporates everything the area has to offer including amenities and unique experiences,” says Leanne. “When you create the right home for the right family, you  know they are going to build so many memories there on and off the hill. It’s really amazing and heartwarming.”

Whether that means a designated place to hang your skis or a beautiful hearth with a warm cozy fire crackling away for after those long days on the slopes, Georgian Communities takes pride in making that happen. Their homes often come with larger kitchens and great gathering areas for you to mingle with family and friends with plenty of space to entertain. Mudrooms to put all your gear and garages built for ski tuning are also a must.

This season, Georgian Communities is looking forward to getting back to some form of normalcy and being able to come together and gather again with our racing communities at races, fundraisers and other events that have been affected by the pandemic. Georgian Communities is always growing and they are excited about their newest, upcoming community that will be coming to Craighurst in 2023 which will bring families closer to the ski hills, spas, golf courses and embracing the natural beauty of a small town with infinite possibilities!

Click here for more info on Georgian Communities and to explore what  their communities have to offer!

Like our partners and community, Alpine Ontario Alpin is committed to gender equity. AOA is proud to announce that we’ve teamed up with Mackenzie Investments to deliver the Mackenzie Together Women in Coaching Project, which will take place during the Women’s Nor-Am in Collingwood (Feb 7-11). The benefits of gender equity are extensive at the leadership level, in coaching and officiating, in the workplace and in sport participation.  

Click here for more on why organizations have much to gain by committing to achieving gender equity.   

AOA and Mackenzie Investments will be hosting 15 female coaches during the 2022 Women’s Nor-Am who will connect, learn, and grow alongside mentors including Jenni Stielow, ACA Senior Manager of Coach EducationRick Cook, ACA Master Coach FacilitatorSarah Edwards, AOA Manager Coach Education and DeliveryKip Harrington, AOA High Performance Director and Cam Stephen, Ontario Ski Team Women Head Coach.  Coaches will be provided access to the Nor-Am field of play to observe, participate and learn about high performance coaching and sport, de-brief with Ontario Ski Team and Alpine Canada coaches. They will also improve their course and environment setting, assessment skills, and be evaluated for certification.  

AOA is thrilled to bring the program back after the inaugural Women in Coaching program during the 2020 Women’s Nor-Am.   Thank you to Mackenzie Investments, Alpine Canada Alpin (ACA) and the Government of Ontario for their support for this initiative.  Welcome to the following coaches who will be participating in the program, Roxanna Ameli, Laura Berry, Riley Donovan, Ally Dandy, Elsa Farnsworth, Geneviève Fortin-Robinson, Sue Greenberg, Mary Beth Hemphill, Claire Horton, Tori Johnston, Sarah Kennedy, Kiersten SutherlandCatherine Strus, Tannis Toohey and Kathryn Tarrant.

AOA is also participating in the Same Game Challenge alongside 43 sport organizations committed to gender equity.  We’re currently gathering insights and data to better define our future equity initiatives and programming.  If you are interested in being a part of the process, stay tuned to Raceline and our social channels for opportunities to contribute. 

I need to concede, right from the outset, that I am not a very good skier.  I need to do that because some of the people who read Raceline have seen me ski and have tried to teach me.  They are good skiers. 

 My children, however, are good skiers. In large measure, they are good skiers because they have pounded gates on the icy slopes of the escarpment.  Or they have done hundreds of repetitions.  I’ve seen the confidence that it builds.  I’ve seen the discipline that it builds.  I’ve seen the social connection that it builds.  And I’ve seen the joy that they get, as young adults, from a day on the runs, knowing they can handle what a hill or a mountain throws at them.  

My oldest dropped everything, in the middle of a pandemic just over a year ago to take a job with a fintech company in Berlin.  It has been a bit isolating and far more distancing than we would like.  A couple of weekends ago, he sent pictures from a mountaintop in the Alps.  He had travelled, by himself, from Berlin on a Friday night.  On Saturday morning, he was in his happy place, on the top of a glacier, sun beaming in.  I’m sure it was both foreign and familiar.  You don’t get that feeling without the confidence that comes from the time and the coaching that goes on all over the slopes of southern Ontario. 

So that is a big reason why Fasken’s association with Alpine Ontario makes me smile.  I’ve stood at the bottom of slopes, waiting for a kid to appear over a hill, hoping he makes that first gate.  I’ve run the coats down the hill.  I’ve stood on the steep slope of a hill, monitoring gates, trying to figure out whether both of those skis went around it.  I’ve been that parent.  I’ve also been lucky enough to stand at the top of a glacier occasionally and that is quite a feeling as well.

I know our association with Alpine Ontario makes a lot of our colleagues smile.  Some have been that skier,more have been that parent.  We are all fans of children and young adults achieving at a high level or simply doing their best, whether it is through skiing, another sport or through some other confidence and skill building endeavour.

As for “what’s next”, we at Fasken are very much looking forward to the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing. Our involvement with the Paralympics dates back to Sydney 2000 when one of our Partners, Marc-Andre Fabien jumped into action and supported now Senator Chantal Petitclerc retain the gold model she had won. In addition to his responsibilities as a Fasken Partner, Marc is also the current President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. We have been only too pleased to expand our support of Canadian athletes by becoming the Official Legal Services Partner of both the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees in recent years.  Our Fasken colleagues will be cheering on Canada’s winter athletes, across the sports spectrum, in the weeks to come.   

To learn more about Fasken, industry thought leadership and their free legal webinars through the Fasken Institute, you can click here. 

Hello All, 

Writing to you from a snowy day here in Collingwood at the AOA offices. This is my third season with the Ontario Ski Team, but with the world being what it has been over the last three seasons, we thought it was time for me to say hello! I am an Ontario boy who grew up in an army family with several moves around Canada and Europe. My family was definitely a skiing family, but we were never a racing family. Growing up, skiing was spending weekends at our local hill and the odd ski trip over school holidays. Ski racing was never a game that occurred to me to play as a kid, but man did I love to ski.

Skiing started to get more serious when we moved to CFB Borden where I completed an instructors in training course at Ski Snow Valley and helped out with the cubs as part of my community service requirements for high school. The next season I completed my CSIA Level 1 and then later my CSCF Level 1. By the end of high school, I was coaching on weekends. With an internship requirement in university, I took the opportunity to work at the National Ski Academy on their strength and conditioning programs and then had the good fortune to work with the FIS groups on snow.  Upon graduation from university, I went west to work with several clubs, the Alberta Ski Team and Alberta Alpine. I also coached in New Zealand for four years in our off-season.

Most recently I spent most of December with the Canadian Alpine Ski Team women’s tech groups in Europe. For close to  four weeks, I travelled with the team in Italy, Austria, and France. It was a humbling and eye-opening opportunity to see how the game works at the highest levels. The effort, work, determination and resiliency that the National Team athletes put in day in and day out was simply amazing to see! It’s pretty awesome to work with some of the best in the world as they chase their dreams of being the fastest in the world.

As a guy that didn’t ski race it’s amazing to think about the journey over the last 20+ years.  It’s pretty neat to have the opportunity to return to my roots and see many of the influential mentors and coaches from my early days still out at our local clubs. To all those that took the time to help me to improve my basic skiing and coaching skills, I can’t say enough other than thank you! Without the daily coaching sessions as a young guy I would never be where I am today. To those in our coaching ranks, I would say anything is possible if you are willing to work, learn, be comfortable with a little bit of discomfort, and chase new experiences. 

Although ski racing is the context, it continues to be the people that make the sport special for me. The connections I have made with so many people in Ontario, Canada, and around the world are truly special and extraordinary. I count myself lucky to work in the sport, with our athletes, coaches, parents, officials, administrators, sponsors, and volunteers. It’s easy to forget it in these crazy times but it’s the people that make ski racing the greatest game on earth.

If you ever see the Ontario Ski Team around, don’t hesitate to come say hi!

If you would like to learn more about coaching and how you could become one, please click here.