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Alpine Canada loses quota spots



Heading into the 2010 Games, Canada had hoped to fill 22 quota spots in the different alpine disciplines and increase the team's chances of winning medals at home. However, a change to quota requirements by the International Skiing Federation (FIS) and poor results last season could shrink the size of our team by eight athletes, while making it more difficult to decide who gets to represent Canada in which events.

As host country, Canada is entitled to one space in every event but each entry also counts towards quota spots. Given the restraints of a smaller team, Canada may be forced to abandon certain technical events to increase our chances in speed events.

According to Alpine Canada Alpin spokesman Kyle Marr, there is still a chance for Canada if athletes perform well at the start of the coming season.

"It's important to note that this quota calculation done in November does not mean Canada will have 14 athletes at the Olympic Winter Games in Alpine. The final quota calculation does not occur until January," he said in a prepared statement. "Right now Alpine Canada Alpin is not disputing the new formula. We have chosen to pursue other means of increasing Canada's quota, for example by seeking a Host Nation Additional Quota. We believe the host nation should have a full team."

If the new quota system was final in November 2008, teams like Austria and Switzerland would have had 22 quota spots each, the U.S. would have lost two spots for a total of 20 and Canada would drop to 14 athletes.

The system is complicated, taking into account a basic quota, World Cup rankings and FIS point rankings to come up with a number up to 22 athletes. Canada first became aware of the system 18 months ago, which was brought in as a result of too many FIS athletes qualifying for the Games.

"We are working with FIS to find an appropriate solution, and we're confident that one will be reached," said Marr. "What's important right now is that our athletes focus on a good season of dryland training, on good workouts in the gym and strong cardio, before heading to South America for on-snow training this summer.

"It's going to be competitive to make Canada's Olympic Alpine Ski Team. The athletes are going to have to perform. And we believe that they will."

So far the quota changes have not been applied to other winter sports sanction by FIS, including freestyle skiing (and ski cross), snowboarding, cross-country, ski jumping and Nordic combined.

The Canadian Alpine Ski Team is currently dryland training. The men's team is currently on ice in Quebec, focusing on skating skills that translate to skiing.

"When you make a turn while skating, I think that is similar to skiing," said Julien Cousineau, who also held his wedding to coincide with the camp. "You have to be on your outside skate and you have to have the right angles in your knees and your hips.

"Skating also prepares you a little bit for ski racing. It always helps to get that little bit strong and it's a really good cardiovascular workout."

The skating motion is particularly important at the start of the race, when skiers can get in a few strides out of the gates to increase their speed.

"It gets really competitive," said Cousineau. "Some of the guys who are not great hockey players are really competitive. We don't like losing so it's always been interesting."

The camp was made possible with some funding from Own The Podium.

While the men's team is playing shinny, the women's team is in Calgary for fitness and testing.