Connecting with the Ontario Ski Team
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!