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ALPINE CANADA ALPIN – Calgary, Alta. (June 15, 2016) – Ski cross stands as one of the newest additions to the winter Olympics, making its debut in 2010. As we look to the 2018 PeyongChang Olympics, ski cross will be entering its third Games, with Canada Ski Cross looking to repeat the successes achieved at previous Games. With a relatively new sport like ski cross, athletes and organizations stand to gain a tremendous amount from developing innovative strategies and programming, which are deemed critical for international success. This insight has driven Alpine Canada Alpin and the Canada Ski Cross program to create a Centralized Training and Education Program in Calgary, Alta., which will allow athletes to simultaneously pursue post-secondary education and high performance sport.
This program targets ski cross athletes from across Canada who are three to six years from Olympic success and have demonstrated extraordinary potential. Leveraging Calgary training facilities, including the Canadian Sport Institute (CSI) Calgary and local ski resorts, the athletes will take advantage of state-of-the-art services while completing their post-secondary education at institutions like the University of Calgary and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).
“We believe we can create a better athlete through this Centralized Program and target all aspects of an athlete’s development, including strength and conditioning, mental strength, sport-specific skills of ski cross such as starts and jumping, alpine technical skills, all while developing the academic and athletic character of the athlete,” said Willy Raine, Ski Cross Athletic Director at Alpine Canada Alpin about his brainchild project. “Based on our knowledge of the Canada Ski Cross World Cup team, which is currently ranked number one in the world, we have identified gaps in younger athletes and believe this program directly targets the next generation of ski cross successes while offering the athletes an opportunity to pursue post-secondary education.”
With a dedicated Centralized Program coach, athletes will train over 100 days on snow along with 32 days dedicated to ski cross specific competition. The Centralized Program offers junior athletes across Canada a pathway to the national team and will encourage athletes to continue competing in ski programs through high school, which will bolster alpine programs across Canada.
Along with coaching support from Alpine Canada and AAP funding from Sport Canada, which aids in the financial cost of living and annually to tuition, the program aims to reduce the cost for athletes to train at an elite level without compromising the integrity of the training programs. Without this program, it costs approximately $250 a day for athletes to be training and competing while ‘on-theroad’.  Having a Centralized Program that brings gym and on-snow training into one region greatly reduces the costs to the athlete and the organization.
Each of the athletes in the Centralized Program also receives support from the Government of Canada through Sport Canada’s Athlete Assistance Program. The direct monthly support helps these athletes focus on their training by assisting them with their living, training and education expenses.
“Canada has had great success in emerging alpine sports—including ski cross, where our athletes Ashleigh McIvor (Vancouver 2010) and Marielle Thompson (Sochi 2014) won back-to-back Olympic gold medals in the women’s competition,” said the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Canada’s Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. “As the single largest investor in our country’s sport  system, our government believes in supporting Canada’s most promising athletes as they pursue their dream of competing for Canada on the world stage—and inspiring Canadians, especially our young people, along the way. Congratulations to Alpine Canada and our ski cross athletes; we look forward to watching this program evolve and seeing the pipeline of athletes working towards podium finishes continue.”
The U.S.’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been turning out high performance athletes with degrees since 1906 across a myriad of sports. Both Kevin Drury and Dave Duncan pursued an education through the NCAA pathway during their alpine careers before transitioning to ski cross. They are shining examples of athletes who pursued and are pursuing an education while competing and succeeding on the world stage.
“Competing at an NCAA level while achieving an education was the best decision for me at that stage in my career,” said Canada Ski Cross athlete, Dave Duncan. “It’s importance to have a balance between competitive athletics and achieving a degree. It can prolong your athletic career while giving you the peace of mind that you’ve planned for the future. There’s a lot of empowerment that comes from knowing you have opportunities after sport and have set yourself up for a successful transition.”
Twenty-year-old Trent McCarthy from Spruce Grove, Alta., will be taking part in the Centralized Program this season. He will be completing a B.Sc. Construction Program Management at SAIT while being a member of the Canada Ski Cross Team.
“Pursing both goals at the same time gives me a balanced life without burning out,” said McCarthy of his decision. “I can put all my energy into ski cross and my education without fearing about what the future holds. I know that when my time comes to an end on the  Canada Ski Cross Team, I’ll be prepared for a career in the future.”
Own the Podium also believes in creating a pathway for Canada’s elite athletes that will generate success both on the podium and in life following elite sport. “The Centralized Program is a great example of an organization ensuring that athletes that are involved in later maturation sports have access to the type of services which can not only make them more successful athletically, but also ensure they have a more fortified after-sport pathway,” said Peter Judge, Director of Winter Sport at Own the Podium. “It’s essential for Canada’s continued high performance success that mature athletes within the system have a more sustainable pathway.
“We believe there is an opportunity to create a new athletic pathway where athletes can continue their post secondary education while developing the athletic skills needed to be successful on the World Cup, World Championship and Olympic stage,” said Raine. “This program will enable athletes to set a foundation for their athletic careers while ensuring they have educational foundations needed for life post athletics. We want Canadian athletes to be the best people possible and we believe that pairing elite ski cross training with devoting time to pursing an education, will create the most successful athletes. We are confident that the program offers a beacon for athletes across the country to aspire to. It will be the reason athletes continue with ski racing through high school and we hope to see an uptake in ski cross nationwide.”
Below are the 2016-17 members of the Canada Ski Cross C and D Team. These athletes are in addition to the A & B members previously named. Asterisks indicate the athletes that will be targeting World Cup races. It is also indicates which athletes will be taking advantage of the Centralized Program based in Calgary while pursuing and education.
2016-17 Canada Ski Cross National C & D Team
Name, Hometown, Birthdate
Men’s Team
Ian Deans, Lake Country, B.C. 09/04/1991 *
Kristofor Mahler, Markham, Ont. 26/02/1995 *
Tristan Tafel, Canmore, Alta. 26/02/1990 *
Zach Belczyk, Banff, Alta. 19/06/1996 *Centralized Program
Matthew Brady, Burlington, Ont. 19/09/1994 *Centralized Program
Reece Howden, Cultus Lake, B.C. 12/07/1998 *Centralized Program
Ned Ireland, Lake Country, B.C. 16/06/1994 *Centralized Program
Trent McCarthy, Spruce Grove, Alta. 14/06/1995 *Centralized Program
Kevin MacDonald, Mississauga 16/02/1993 *Centralized Program
Ladies Team
Britt Phelan, Lake Tremblant, Que. 24/09/1991 *
Zoe Chore, Cranbrook, B.C. 26/02/1998 *Centralized Program
Tiana Gairns, Prince George, B.C. 01/07/1998 *Centralized Program
Courtney Hoffos, Windermere, B.C. 30/08/1997 *Centralized Program
India Sherrett, Cranbrook, B.C. 29/05/1996 *Centralized Program
Alexa Velcic, Calgary, Alta. 12/03/1997 *Centralized Program


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