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First Person: Ken Read

Ski team on track. Despite injuries, 2004 was a good for Canadian ski racers

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That’s the kind of building block you need, and I think that’s a testament to the program Max Gartner (vice president, athletics) is building with his coaching staff, and they’re the one’s who deserve all the credit, working with the athletes to get the kind of results that we’re getting.

Pique : How important are sponsors and new sources of funding to success?

KR : This past year we didn’t really have too much in the way of significant new sponsors, so once again it comes back to the commitment that some of our major sponsors, especially CIBC and General Motors, made by stepping up early.

With that I say that we’re into year two of the rebuilding process, and that process has been enabled because so many of these commercial partners stepped up early. They didn’t wait until the Olympics, they came in right after the Olympics and that’s a really gratifying part of those relationships, the recognition of the time it takes and the patience it takes to invest in our athletes, of not expecting an immediate payout.

Pique : You can see that the team is improving slowly with the program, but I was wondering if you had any goals for the upcoming season?

KR : The coming season we will continue to try and build momentum, we know we still have a lot of work to do.

The number one goal, as always, is to make sure that we have the resources and are delivering the resources to our top team to ensure that they are able to perform.

We’re trying to build a much bigger emphasis on sport sciences and information so that we move another step beyond what is currently being offered, to continue to look for those last few hundredths of a second for our athletes.

Our second big goal is to continue to build the athlete development system, which we know is the foundation of ensuring that we have a successful team in 2010. Right now I estimate that we have no more than half of the athletes on the team that would be on our Olympic team in 2010. The other half are going to come from the provinces and the ski club programs, so that’s why it’s important to continue to build up from a sensible ski race calendar with a strong program that’s reaching down with coaching education and resources as we can direct them.

The third goal is that we want to start working more closely with our events people, beyond just simply having the World Cups in Lake Louise. We have to start training officials for events, and really look towards being prepared in 2010. In that respect we’re looking to work closely with our provincial support organizations, in particular B.C. Alpine, to make sure that we do a good job.