The Canadian Alpine Ski Team is holding its head high after the 2010 season, despite missing the podium during the Olympic Games - sometimes by mere hundredths of a second.
The team was plagued by injuries last season and went into the Games without four proven medal contenders in John Kucera, Kelly VanderBeek, Jean-Philippe Roy and Francois Bourque.
While some Olympic hardware would have been nice, it's just one event for Canada's alpine racers, who are now hard at work training for the 2011 World Cup season and FIS World Championships. Overall the team is still on the young side and extremely skilled, with medal contenders in all of the speed events and solid prospects in the technical events.
The smaller, post-Games team is in Calgary this week for fitness testing and dryland training, the first of several camps taking place in the off-season. New exercises like yoga and martial arts have been added to the training camp to improve core strength, flexibility and focus, building on the success of other alternative training methods - like playing hockey for several weeks in Quebec last season to improve starts and edging. Athletes have also spent time in the gym lifting weights, on the soccer field, on bikes and doing other activities.
Future camps will take place on snow in the southern hemisphere, usually in South America and New Zealand.
"This is basically the first training camp of the four years ahead of us," said Alpine Canada Director of Sports Matt Price. "There will be a lot of different things happening that will most definitely interest the athletes. The guys went through four years of intense preparation focused on the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and now that process starts again."
Tyler Nella, a member of the development team who joined the Olympic squad last season, was excited after taking part in a martial arts workout last week.
"It's something new, we don't have a lot of experience in this," he said. "So you just go as hard as you can and try to get the best workout you can. I think we've all had a lot of fun with it and got a lot out of it, doing movements that we don't normally do."
The Canadian Alpine Ski Team finished the 2009-2010 season with four World Cup wins, the most gold medals for the team since 1984, and a total of eight World Cup medals - well below the 2008 record of 14, but slightly above average. Erik Guay also finished the season with three podiums in the final week, and the overall super G title. He was the first Canadian to win an overall title since Steve Podborski in 1982.
The World Cup season gets underway in October in Austria.
B.C. Alpine announces summer training group
B.C. Alpine announced its summer training group for the B.C. Ski Team this week. The group will be joined by members of the national development team, including Elli Terwiel, Georgia Simmerling and Whistler's Victoria Whitney.
Alpine Canada is decreasing the size of its team this year and B.C. Alpine is stepping up to continue support for those athletes.
"We're tremendously excited to work with Elli, Victoria and Georgia again," said B.C. Alpine CEO Bruce Goldsmid. "But we're going to find the balance between providing every opportunity for them to reach the World Cup level again with providing a development-level program for our up-and-coming skiers."
The three skiers will be part of a new "Prospect Program," which will include Sasha Zaitsoff and Whistler's Morgan Pridy.
As well, the B.C. Team will include Whistler skiers Conrad Pridy, Ben MacLean, Willy Konantz, Alecia Willis, Jocelyn Ramsden, Kailee Darlington and Broderick Thompsen. Other members of the team are Tyler Werry, Sarah Freeman, Celine Rytz, Sarah Elliot, Rebecca Bermel, Mackensey Young, Alexandria Pankratz and Mathieu Leduc.
B.C. Alpine also announced that the new men's head coach will be Richard Brandon Dyksterhouse, the new women's head coach is Gregor Druzina and Aaron Speden the new women's assistant coach.