A few years ago a young, talented freestyle skier by the name of Dale Begg-Smith - born and raised in Whistler - made the difficult decision to leave the Canadian national program and represent Australia in international competition. At the time he was busy with his computer business, and didn't fit into the national model when it came to coaching and camps. He wanted to do things his way, which the team could not allow out of fairness to its other athletes.
Since then he's won an Olympic gold medal and numerous World Cup medals and titles for Australia, a huge loss for the Canadian program.
Last week Canada was on the verge of losing its top up and coming cross-country athlete following a spat over coaching. Alex Harvey, who was on the podium twice this season and in the top-20 countless times, insisted on retaining Louis Bouchard as his personal coach, despite the fact that Bouchard is not part of the national team or program. Harvey was a member of the development team at the start of the season, and was only promoted to the senior team at the end of the year.
He asked to retain his personal coach and program in Quebec, and for the option of missing national camps. But that request was denied by Cross Country Canada on the grounds that they need their senior athletes to train and work together as a team.
That sparked a crisis, as Harvey was demoted to the development squad. Harvey would still be able to compete in the 2010 Games, but it would cost him funding, access to camps, and other forms of support provided to national team athletes.
On Friday the two camps reached a compromise. Harvey will be able to join the senior team and continue to train under his current coach, but will also be required to attend three of four national camps leading up to the 2010 Games. He was also given clearance to train in Austria in October instead of joining the team at an altitude camp in California.
He will attend the team's first camp next week at Silver Star Mountain Resort, which Harvey originally opted out of to reduce the time he'll spend travelling this summer.