None of the candidates for the new Canada Ski Cross team are strangers to the sport, but things will be a lot different this December when athletes head up to the start gates.
For the first time ever athletes will be competing as a team, with skis expertly tuned by a team technician, and bodies kept healthy by a team physiotherapist. Behind them will be staff coaches, and an organization dedicated to providing Canada’s best ski cross athletes with all the physical, mental and financial support they need to succeed.
“One of the biggest changes this year is that we’re now part of a team,” said Whistler’s Davey Barr, who has been competing internationally in ski cross for the past seven years. “We have support coming in from every angle instead of being on our own and having to search for all that support. We have team members that we can rely on, and ask questions, and train beside, which is something most of us have never had.”
Barr’s list of career achievements includes everything from podiums at the X Games, to a win at the U.S. Freeskiing Nationals. Last year he was one of a handful of Canadian skiers to qualify for the inaugural ski cross world championships.
Once ski cross was confirmed as an official Olympic discipline for 2010, Barr decided he was going to do his best to represent Canada.
“When it was first announced for the Olympics I was excited, but even then I didn’t really know what was going to happen,” he said. “Now all of a sudden we have a national team and support. It’s pretty cool to be involved with something that’s so new from the very beginning.”
Barr says the decision to create a national ski cross organizations will improve the way he prepares for races.
“One of the main things that will be different for me this year is just having a coach to advise me, and just the ability to watch video at the end of the day to see where the passing opportunities are, and where all the fastest lines are,” said Barr. “Before you just had to try to picture it in your head, and hope you got it right.
“The technical support is also huge for us, waxing our skis and keeping them tuned for the exact conditions. Getting the hole shot is one thing, but if you do get out of the gate in second and your skis are running, and the guy with the hole shot’s skis are not running, then you’re going to pull ahead.