Ontario Ski Team Summer Training Group

Ontario Ski Team Summer Training Group
Jenn Warren – SOD Team Coach

The Ontario Ski Team staff is operating with the following priorities: 1) COVID safety 2) Safety in our day to day programming 3) Coaching and performance. And the principle that we will do whatever we can safely do in the pursuit of performance. Starting in May, and in the months leading up to the camp the team worked within COVID restrictions and guidelines to bring the group together for training to build the work ethic and team culture, and to develop the best practices related to

COVID (in and out of training environments) that will help keep them safe throughout the season.

The next step was to tighten our bubble for two weeks, followed by a covid test, face mask, hand sanitizer and practicing social distance. This was all before we departed for the Ontario Ski Team (OST) summer training groups camp in Zermatt/Saas Fee.  The “new normal” brought some challenges, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome with Cam Stephen’s meticulously detailed Covid mitigation plan.  Learning the plan, understanding the protocols and following the steps was the first indication that this camp would be an amazing learning environment.

The Ontario Ski Team coaching staff- Cam Stephen, women’s head coach and Cam McKenzie, men’s head coach.  “The Cams” foster an environment of excellence.  There is no time wasted and everything runs like clockwork. I felt so lucky to be part of this staff and spent much of my time listening and learning from them.  On snow and off snow there were awesome tips to add to my coaching toolbox.

Off Snow, I became more familiar and comfortable with two amazing apps, the first being Smartabase, the (health) tracking app that is used by both the OST and the Southern Ontario Division Ski Team(SODST).  It is an amazing tool to monitor nutrition, sleep, fatigue levels as well as daily training loads and workouts. The second being Coach’s Eye. Coach’s Eye can share video, share comments, and draw directly on the screen to illustrate line and tactical approach.  Two amazing tools for coaches to help athletes be better. Another off snow activity that I really enjoyed was the daily dryland session, I was interested to see how “the Cams” approached their dryland sessions based on the level of wellness they could see in the Smartabase app, if the level of fatigue was high it would be a stretch, or yoga or even a relaxation session.  If the athletes showed good energy, then it might be an agility or power session.  All this mixed in with some super fun games of soccer, cage and volleyball.

On Snow there was so much to take in.  I am always looking to improve my eye, so watching the athletes ski, and listening to “the Cams” corrections and feedback was so awesome.   Luckily, we were seeing the same things!!  Having technical conversations with the athletes, “the Cams” and our guest speaker British National Team athlete Alex Tilley introduced some new language that I am excited to use with the SODST athletes.  The concept was not new but the way to present it is was.  We often talk about flow from one turn to the next, it is in the split second of a flat ski that links the turns together, Alex uses the term the diagonal, she thinks about moving her body (or center of mass)along the length of the ski to ensure she doesn’t move inside too quickly.  Cam Stephen liked to use the word deliberate, (moving away from the term patience as the idea that patience is waiting without movement). A deliberate move across the rise line, with a good angle of attack (or entry point) so that top speed can be achieved without the gate interrupting the flow of the turn.  In order to achieve this the athlete must have a strong position over the outside ski to stand against, resist the pressure while moving the hips towards the next turn. Pretty fun to break down the turn with a top 10 World Cup racer!

A big thank you to ‘the Cams” for letting me listen in on all their sessions.  Also, a huge thank you to the athletes of the OST summer training group, I learned so much from you guys.  I truly admire your dedication, your focus, your effort and your hard work in Switzerland.  I would be remiss in not mentioning how much time and commitment you all put into to your training before hitting snow.  I believe that most people in the ski racing community do not see or understand the level of strength and fitness that FIS athletes require BEFORE they train on snow.  This group of athletes trained 5 days a week, 2 hours a day for 3 months before departure.  Impressive but necessary when skiing at altitude for 21 days. Well done team!