The Whistler Nordics' Sea to Sky Devo Team is back on snow for the 2009-2010 season, first at a camp at Silver Star last week, then on the newly groomed Lost Lake trails on Tuesday night. In reality the team has been training a lot longer than that, with regular training sessions as far back as June.
"This program is fairly new and it's going to take some time to expand to an even bigger program, but everyone here has been training really hard through the summer with dryland training sessions and I think we'll see the results this winter," said coach Maria Lundgren. "We've actually been training since June all together - running, roller skiing, ski striding, swimming, biking, we've been in the gym. Cross-country needs so many cross-training sports in the summer, and we introduced them all. We're very motivated."
The Devo Team athletes train five times a week, three times with the group and twice on their own. One of those training days is a gym day and two are dedicated to technique. Athletes do a lot of their cardiovascular fitness on their own and are expected to get out skiing regularly during the winter, or to spend time running or in the pool. Every athlete keeps a training log that Lundgren collects to measure progress.
In the first year the program had six students; this year there are 11. The team is committed to travelling to Coast Cup events and older athletes will also get a chance to race at a provincial level B.C. Cup in Kelowna. The younger kids will take part in a qualifier to represent the zone at the B.C. Winter Games in Terrace in March. As well, athletes will compete in local events like the Whistler Loppet, Spud Valley Loppet and the 10 Toonie Race events hosted by the Whistler Nordics over the season.
The team is open to athletes who are 13 or older, although exceptions can be made by invitation. You also have to be a strong skier who is motivated to compete at a higher level.
The main competition for the Devo Team are the rep teams from other clubs around the province, although it's not all about winning says Lundgren.
"Hollyburn is probably our biggest competition, but there's a lot of good clubs in B.C.," she said. "Hollyburn is the closest one, so we've been doing a lot of training with them. That's important for the sport, to make friends with the other clubs. It's about training and working hard, but also having fun and making friends."
The team is supported through the Whistler Nordics, cross-country B.C. sponsor Haywood Securities and the Nordic Shop to some degree, but Lundgren said they will be looking for new sponsors to expand the program in the future. As well, she says it wouldn't be possible without parent volunteers, who work with Whistler Nordics skiers at all ages.