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.

Kip Harrington has lived most of his life on ski hills. Growing up in a ski racing family in Sault Ste. Marie, the winters were long and the snow was plentiful. Like most Canadians, he dipped his toes into the hockey pool amongst many other sports, but the skiing bug took a bite and that was just the beginning of a lifelong career in alpine skiing. Through passion and perseverance, Kip has worked with the Ontario Ski Team, the Canadian Alpine Ski Team and even the British Ski Academy, which has given him a worldly view of the sport he truly lives for.

Kip is currently the High Performance Director here at AOA. On most days you will find him out on the slopes, taking in as much as he can from the athletes, coaches, families and volunteers who are training, competing and cheering. While his own journey started at 18 when he started coaching full time, his climb was long and slow but has taken him on a trip of a lifetime.

“I started at Searchmont, as a club coach. Moved on to become the Northern Ontario Team coach for 6 years, then the OST coach for 8 years and then to the National level coaching with Alpine Canada. I’ve been to several World Championships, many World Junior Championships and an Olympic Games. I’ve even spent some years in Europe with the British Ski Academy. All spread out over the past 35 years that I’ve been coaching. It’s incredibly rewarding.”

The slow and steady journey came to him naturally. Coaching was never something he really thought about, but he wouldn’t do it any differently. His dream was not specifically to become a World Cup coach but his life led him to that exact spot. He liked what he did with such enthusiasm and dedication, he worked hard and doors opened for him at the right time in his career. Kip has a zest for life and an incredible appreciation for the sport and ski community combined.

If you’ve ever had a moment to chat with Kip, you’ll understand why his journey has been so prolific. When he’s coaching and out on the field of play you can see how he takes all aspects of ski racing in. He loves working with kids, being in the mountains, and just being with a community of like-minded individuals doing something they all enjoy and working together to be the best that they can be – together. Community was something that was terribly missed last season with the absence of racing and Kip can’t wait to get out there and meet all of the new faces and reconnect with familiar ones. 

“Working with kids from all walks of life and seeing them develop – you see them mature and tackle challenges. All great skiers that I have had the privilege of coaching, start to pull away after a bit, not in a bad way, they have learned from you what they can on the hill and they want to start making their own decisions. Years later, I might see them again at a World Cup and their level of understanding is so different and rewarding to see. It’s all fantastically fun and such a great thing.”

When he’s out on the slopes, Kip feels energized. In his current role some things are necessary but not always super fun to do, but getting out there on the hill with the athletes, coaches and families – their energy is infectious. As a coach, his role is a little like being a parent. You go on a journey with the athletes, you care about them, you see them struggle through injuries,  you see them through successes and failures, but the athletes really rely on you to be steady as a coach. When they feel a rollercoaster coming on, you are there to keep your cool and help them walk through it.

Through the years, Kip has made countless memories, but what really resonates with him are the connections he’s made. Building relationships with athletes not just when they are racing but when they are off the hill, he truly gets to know them and by extension he gets to know their families and the energy they pour into the sport. For Kip, it’s about camaraderie and community. 

“The key is to keep an open mind. The potential of these athletes is unbelievable, they’re still learning and growing. It’s so important for us to build more opportunities for them to develop and be together as the season rolls on. Huge kudos to the athletes, coaches and families who have made this season happen – in one way or another we must find a way to rise from what we’ve gone through in the past year. From what I’ve already seen, you are as strong, if not stronger, out there than ever before.”

Kip, more than anything, is looking forward to getting to know everyone this season. It’s important to him to motivate and provide guidance, but most importantly have rewarding experiences that help kids be successful as athletes and in life. There are important things we can accomplish together, we’ve just got to get out there and do it! 

For more details on how you can become an AOA coach, please click here.

The Ontario Ski Team (OST) has remained hard at work from the close of the 2021 competitive season through to the present. As with anything in 2021, there are headwinds and challenges. OST coaches Cam Stephen and Cam McKenzie have kept the team strong by maintaining focus on preparation, health, wellness and adaptability. OST athletes Steph Currie, Ashley Campbell, Zach Temertzoglou, Kyle Blandford, Aleksas Valadka and Colin Kress, have demonstrated their resilience and passion over and over, even at the most difficult times. 

The first priority for this season was physical and mental fitness. Our Sport Science and Sport Medicine programs are designed and quarterbacked by the Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario (CSIO), and delivered on the ground through Active Life Conditioning (ALC) in Collingwood, Ontario. It has been fantastic to have the support of both the CSIO and the team (Sarah Applegarth, Rob Buxton and therapists) at ALC. The athletes are largely centralized in Collingwood and with the training base just up the street from the Alpine Ontario office, our coaches are able to be on the ground with the athletes and trainers on a daily basis, throughout the year.

On snow, training began with a 5-week block at Saas Fee, Switzerland. Weather and snow conditions were amazing, and with access to training in the summer months largely reduced to central Europe, the team trained side by side with the best in the world. Subsequent stops included indoor slalom training at Snow World in Belgium, grand slalom training at Hintertux, Austria, Colorado, USA, Nakiska, Norquay, and Panorama. Early performances in competition have been strong from team members and our NCAA alumni (Declan McCormack, Justin Alkier, Mack Wood).

Unfortunately, several of the athletes have been working through injuries, big and small, and we have had unusually ample opportunities to test our medical and Return to Sport policies. Medical and sport science support from the CSIO is best in class and between our Integrated Support Team (OST staff, CSIO, ALC, and mental consultants) we remain fully committed to return all of our athletes to successful competition. The athletes themselves have demonstrated amazing patience and perseverance to return to peak form that we can all admire. It isn’t easy!

“Being a ski racer is a marathon, not a sprint. We are still working through the bumps and challenges, and stops and starts brought about by the pandemic,” says Kip Harrington, High Performance Director, Alpine Ontario. “But stay with it and those bumps will flatten, and your hard work and commitment will pay off. Focus on the things you can control – improve skill, get fit, and above all, enjoy it!”

There are few things in life that are like going outside every day with a team of friends, and doing everything we can do, at a sport we love, to be the best that we can be, together. Let’s make the most of it!

Nathalene Hagar got hooked on skiing as a student while she was in Calgary on a four month co-op term. Paskapoo Ski Hill (now known as Canada Olympic Park) had an amazing 10-day package for $100 which included everything from bus to the hill, rentals, lift tickets and lessons. What better way to entertain yourself during a winter in Calgary? 

“It was a great investment, and many thanks to somebody’s mom who helped me click into those bindings for the very first time,” Nathalene says.

Who knew her new found love of skiing would lead her to being an official one day. 

As an active official since 2003, Nathalene was first introduced to the Alpine Ontario community through her kids who took an interest in ski racing at Toronto Ski Club. Now, Nathalene has honed her craft while working at World Cups, Nor-Ams, Nationals and Provincials, wearing many different hats, with a strong background in timing and race administration. 

“There is great satisfaction in completing a race – working with the entire organizing committee and crew to provide an excellent competition experience for the athletes, coaches, officials and supporters,” says Nathalene as she speaks to her favourite part about being an official.

Timing is where Nathalene shines. It’s a hobby that she has a great talent and dedication for. People who know her can tell you that she can discuss timing for many hours on end. Her timing team is inspired by Formula 1 pit crews when they have to replace a broken finish post and re-align the photocells – they are always thinking of the athletes in spandex who are waiting at the start. Tenacious and full of passion, Nathalene is a staple on the slopes.

Nathalene is also privileged to work with a remarkable group of leaders in alpine ski racing who comprise the Officials Education Working Group. While working with them,  she continues to help develop resources for officials in Canada, always giving back to her community.

There’s very little Nathalene doesn’t enjoy about being an official. She loves taking a moment to take in the breathtaking beauty of each ski resort she has had the honour of visiting and then sharing those experiences with friends and family as wonderful memories. The only thing that’s a little challenging are the very, very early mornings!

If there was one thing Nathalene would love the ski community to know it would be this:

“I would encourage people to help out at a race – there is a role for everyone, and many hands make light work! Our community is full of people who are there to support our sport. I have checked with my (now adult) children, and they and their teammates appreciate that their parents and many others spent hours preparing, then standing out there on the hill in sun, rain, snow and sleet, and then tearing down. Dress for success: layers, fresh dry socks and gloves, a cozy neckie.”

Nathalene is looking forward to this season and hoping for a more normal season than the last 20 months or so. She is such a pillar in our ski community and it will be fantastic to see her back out there alongside all of you this season! Make sure if you see Nathalene out on the hills to say hi and if you are curious about being an official or the skill of timing – she would be happy to help you learn more! For more details on becoming an official, please click here.

Known for their dedication in giving back to communities and championing inclusivity, the power of sport, and investing in our ski communities both on and off the hill, Mackenzie Investments continues to be a valued partner of Alpine Ontario. In this edition of RACELINE, we had the chance to sit down with Alyson Fuller, who is the Director of Sponsorship and Community Engagement with Mackenzie Investments and an avid fan of the slopes. She shares a keen love of skiing, something that she’s enjoyed from a young age and gives us the inside scoop on what Mackenzie Investments has in store for this season! A little hint: Top Peak is back!

Born and raised  in Ontario, her winters were chock full of days out in the Laurentians, carving out her love of skiing. Now, she works with some of Canada’s top ski athletes like Olympic Silver medalist Brittany Phelan, who Mackenzie sponsors and is incredibly proud of her achievements and partnership.

Her days working at Mackenzie Investments perfectly combines her zest for skiing with her career. The great thing about skiing overall is that it’s a great way to connect with friends and family while doing something healthy and enjoying the outdoors. Mackenzie has been a sponsor of skiing for more than 20 years in Ontario and continues to build on that legacy by supporting athletes from grassroots to the Olympians while investing in the future of our sport. 

Mackenzie Investments has always believed in investing in surrounding communities. “Whether you’re an avid racer, a fan cheering from the sidelines or just learning the sport, we love seeing how invested communities are and how this brings people together on and off the hill,” said Fuller.  “We value our partnership with Alpine Ontario and the support it provides young aspiring ski racers.” 

This season, Top Peak is back! You can expect to see Mackenzie back with a light activation due to the ongoing pandemic. “We will be at select ski hills across the country with our infamous ski buffs and encouraging people to sign up and participate in year two of Mackenzie Top Peak,” added Fuller. “And watch out for the golden buff this season! As we distribute them, we have several ‘golden buffs’ where you can win a $500 RESP or RRSP.”

Top Peak is a program built to challenge Canadians to show us how invested they are in their communities. And in turn Mackenize will invest into the winning community with $50,000. Registration opens December 27th. Additionally, clubs can expect an email from us with more about the program and a step by step on how to register and encourage sign up and participation.To learn more about Top Peak and how you can enter, please  visit mackenzietoppeak.ca!

 

Mackenzie Investments is a leading Canadian investment management company with more than one million retail and institutional clients. The firm is an Alpine Ontario Premier Partner and has been a proud supporter of Canadian snow sports for more than 20 years, investing in athletes and para-athletes from young amateurs on the hill, to Olympic and World Cup champions competing on the world stage.

The Southern Ontario Division (SOD) ski team started the 2021-22 pre-season with the selection of new members and the return of last year’s athletes who persevered through ski hill closures and being split up for training due to hill/guest requirements and precautions. 

Their first gathering was in June for physical testing, to get to know each other and start some mental preparation training. As summer flashed by, prep for snow began and ski bags were packed, vaccinations were updated, along with all proper COVID requirements and the team was off to their first foray for many into international territory in over a year – Saas Fee, Switzerland for a 16 day camp.

Going into the Fall and Winter months, the balance of school and ski racing became a new challenge but the challenge was accepted by team members and the second prep camp was underway in Austria during the last 2 weeks of October. Back in Canada, SOD athletes headed west for their third preparation camp in Panorama BC where they were met with the unbelievable floods that took out much of the province. Panorama was not affected but the travel there was, and the team arrived 2 days late but set straight to work! Training in different weather (very wet and raced much of the time soaked!) and terrain was a challenge but improved development. The performance of the SOD athletes was impressive considering the tough weather conditions.

They continue to work with athletes on what their intentions are versus what they expect or what they think others expect of them and try to create more reflection opportunities for the athletes to allow them to look back and learn from certain situations where they might have had a difficult time. Learning from our mistakes or struggles is a big part of moving forward in this sport and helping in this area can make a difference in mindset. 

Now currently off to Mont Tremblant, Quebec for a pre-Christmas training camp, racing and then coming home for some time with friends and family for the holidays. Being able to train at home and race on our home hills will feel quite different for this team but very much needed for the athletes and the coaches. Looking ahead to what the season will bring, they feel resilient and ready to deal with it!

Click the image below to learn from one of Sporting Life’s experts, Ski Technician Boyd Callaway on all things skis, proper preparation and how Sporting Life expertise and technology can help with your performance.

As the first flakes started to fall, there’s an undeniable feeling of excitement of getting out on the slopes. After what feels like forever, clubs around Ontario are gearing up and getting back to snow under our skis. While the pandemic put a damper on our past season, the spirits of our athletes and coaches are at an all time high. Through perseverance, resilience and a positive mindset we are back on our skis and ready to rumble. With World Cups and NorAm racing well underway, many of the AOA member clubs are on snow or on their way to camps. We are inspired by what we are hearing from our members and clubs as they get the season started! 

As the National Ski Academy heads back to snow, they are thrilled to be together again on the mountain like so many of us! The beauty of teamwork and camaraderie is celebrated as they enjoyed being together again for incredible pre-season conditions at Sun Peaks and Nakiska. Like many of us, it just felt good to have the skis in the snow again doing what they love and being surrounded by their teammates once again. While the pandemic may have been a struggle for all of us, in the spirit of perseverance NSA used the time to switch things up and plan for travel in 2022 including Saas-Fee, turning lemons into lemonade. As for right now, the feeling of being back on the snow is like no other and almost feels surreal. 

Sharing in the excitement are London Ski Club and Georgian Peaks. With the season inching closer and closer both clubs are eager to get out there on the snow every chance they can get. London pivoted with the times and have been doing some socially distanced dryland training – proving their passion for skiing and getting them ready for the minute snow starts to fly. They’re pumped for the new season more than ever and eagerly awaiting what this year holds, making up for any lost time on the slopes.

Georgian Peaks have 55 OCUP racers hanging out in Sun Peaks loving every inch of snow and training they can fit in and 265 athletes aged 6-16 who are waiting with anticipation for their annual Tremblant camp – it just feels invigorating to be back out on the hills. Energized and ready for the upcoming season, the overwhelming feeling of being back and seeing familiar faces has been wonderful and everyone is grateful to be back.

Ontario, we are set for a stellar season of snow and ski! We hope that you feel as passionate and empowered to get out there and enjoy what this season has to offer. We cannot wait to see you out there! 

To stay up to date on what our clubs are up to this season, stay tuned to the Division News section in our Raceline newsletter bi-weekly. Don’t forget to send us pictures and updates on how you are celebrating being back this season. Stay safe and we hope to hear from you!

We believe in connecting like-minded athletes across the province and are adapting the program to work within our current constraints and bring value to your training and season preparation.  In 2020 a similar program was operated for U16’s and results showed on the snow with better conditioned and prepared athletes.  The concept has been expanded to U14’s for 2021 so more athletes can focus on their off-season conditioning for the winter racing season.  Starting a structured, alpine ski specific, off season conditioning program earlier in an athlete’s athletic pathway will result in more fun and achievement on snow.

The 2021 program will offer the following and will be available for all athletes born 2009-2006:

  • A periodized fitness program running from mid-May through mid-November. The program will include the program handout including links to videos for each exercise, bi-weekly Zoom workouts, fitness benchmarking, fitness testing protocol and a discount for individual programming and workouts with Active Life Conditioning.
  • Access to in person conditioning camps in the summer facilitated by Active Life Conditioning in Collingwood – all subject to public health regulations and protocols.  This is an additional fee and registration is now open.  Register here.
  • On-line webinars with Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario practitioners including sports psychology, nutrition and exercise physiology.
  • Leadership from AOA Athletics staff and exposure to Ontario Ski Team coaches and athletes
  • Access to summer school credit to take the pressure of school in the winter season

This program is open for registration now and the program will begin mid-May.  The first month of the program will be weekly Zoom workouts to solidify safe technique and live demonstration of the program movements by the lead trainer at Active Life Conditioning.  Zoom workouts will be bi-weekly July onwards on Wednesday afternoons.

Cost of this program is $475 plus HST and click here to register.

Please note: You must be an AOA member to register and participate in this program.  Participants will have to register for next season 2021-22 come the new 2021-22 registration cycle, starting July 1, 2021 as well.  U16 athletes will need to register and participate in the U16 OCUP Conditioning Program to be considered for the U16 High Performance Program.

The zoom workouts will start May 18/19 with Rob at Active Life Conditioning for the next 5 weeks.  The zoom links will be sent out on Mondays for that weeks workouts.  U14 starts Tues May 18 6:30pm and U16 starts Wed May 19 6:45pm.  The workouts will continue weekly until June 15/16.  Then a few times per month in July and August and then again with more frequency in the fall.

As far as the equipment you do not need to have everything right away – any mix or a combination will do for the beginning of the program, however, these equipment add-ons will greatly benefit the program outcomes.  To prepare for the start of workouts next week you will require the following:

  • Enough space to freely move around to perform small setup agility drills and a ceiling high enough that some jumping can be performed
  • Varying weights of dumbbell’s or kettlebell’s ranging from light-moderately heavy (10-40lbs, pairs if possible)
  • Yoga Mat or other soft/cushioned surface for ground based exercises
  • Resistance Band Pack – varying tensions – click here for example
  • Bodyweight Rowing/Pull-Up Option – Parallel Bars, TRX, Gymnastics Rings etc. – click here for example

If you have any questions about the program please contact Robyn at [email protected]

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:  [email protected]
Phone: (705) 444-5111 x133