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A tribute to coaches

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They’re the ones who are always there for the athletes. They are the first up in the morning, the first on the ski hill, and yet still have time search for new ideas and ways to make us, the racers, go faster. Who are these people?

They are our coaches. From the first day you start racing there is a coach there to help you every step of the way.

Over the years I have benefited from some excellent coaching. I want to share with you some of the great coaches I have had the pleasure of working with throughout my career and what they have meant to me.

So what makes a great coach?

When I was a young athlete, an 11-year-old K1 racer, I had three of the greatest coaches at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club. They all had such different personalities, and I can remember them all distinctively.

On the weekends the skiers would break up into different groups, and the coaches would take us all over the mountain. We would have the best time on these little trips. This is how I learned how to really ski and how to adapt to different terrain and snow conditions.

A great coach has a true passion for the sport of skiing. Kids at the K1 level can sense this passion and develop their desire to learn from a coach’s energy. Coaches can make a real impact on every racer they work with.

Through my years with the ski club, the provincial team and now the national team, I have encountered and worked with many different coaches. Each one of them, whether they knew it or not, taught me something that I still carry with me today at the World Cup level.

The Whistler Mountain Ski Club provided a great atmosphere for my teammates and me to develop our skills. The coaches were enthusiastic and encouraged the racers at every turn. While the training was fun, they also made us work hard – if you want to make it to the top you have to be prepared to work hard and dedicate yourself to the sport.

A good coach will show you how to be the best you can be, and instil in you with a work ethic that will lead to success. There is no short route to the top of this sport.

A great coach will also allow racers to learn to think for themselves. It’s too easy for racers to get trapped into always looking to the coach for feedback and direction.

I started to do this under my K2 coach, Jordan Williams. He forced me to think for myself by continually asking me questions about what I was thinking and what I was feeling on my skis. I am a very quiet person so this wasn’t easy at first. But I trusted Jordan and could see that he believed in me. This made for the perfect learning atmosphere.

A coach needs to be able to see the potential in every racer he or she works with. Not every racer will become a champion, but they can all learn skills that they will have with them their entire lives.

My current coach, Jim Pollock, has had – and continues to have – the greatest impact on my skiing. Whether I am training on-hill or off-hill, I know that I have another set of eyes making sure that I am making smart training choices, and making the right changes in my skiing to be the fastest. If I start to lose my focus and drop my intensity he lets me know and I wake up! We work together as a team to find the best solutions.

Without these key coaches I wouldn’t be the athlete that I am today.

So a big thanks to all of the coaches out there who show up every day and make a difference.

And thanks to all the coaches I’ve had for their hard work, and the time and effort they put into me.

Skiing is a great sport that has provided me with many life skills that I can take with me into the world. Even if I didn’t make it as far as I have in skiing, I would still be using those skills today.

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