For years Canada has been churning out A-list snowboarders almost effortlessly, as kids from coast to coast converge on ski hills and in terrain parks to push each other to go bigger and faster. For the past two years, Quebecs Jasey-Jay Anderson has been crowned as the overall World Cup champion. Ross Rebagliati won the first ever snowboard Olympic gold medal in alpine. In the World Cup halfpipe and big air events, you can usually find at least one Canadian in the top 10.
But while the scene may be healthy now, the Canadian Snowboard Federation is determined to make sure that Canada puts athletes on the podium internationally in the future.
With strong national programs in the U.S., Europe and Japan to compete against, Canada needed to boost support for its own programs, especially at the development level up to now, the CSF has focused almost entirely on the management of the High Performance Program.
As a result, the Canadian Snowboard Federation and the Telus Whistler Sports Centre have teamed up to create a Sport Development Model that extends down to the provincial, regional and club levels.
"In the past, snowboarding in Canada could have been compared to going on a trip without a map," says Tim OBrien, a member of the CSFs executive committee. "This project is the creation of a map for all stakeholders in our sport."
At the 2002 Pizza Pops Canadian National and Junior National Snowboard Championships in Tremblant, Quebec, the CSF organized a meeting of the provincial team coaches and provincial sport organizations to discuss the need for a clearly identified structure for the development of athletes, coaches and officials from the grassroots level through the highest international level.
The CSF and Telus Whistler Sports Centre, under the direction of Todd Allison, will design the Sport Development Model with the assistance of Istvan Balyi, a renowned sports planner and author of the AIM (Athlete Integration Management) document for alpine skiing.
"What were doing is bringing in people from alpine skiing and freestyle skiing from around the country, the coaches, physios, team doctors, the strength and conditioning people, and adapting that knowledge to snowboarding at every level," says Allison, the manager of the Sports Centre. "Were bringing it right down to the club structure, so they can put more athletes on the podium."
There is currently only one snowboard club in B.C., the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club. The club has been successful in producing athletes that can compete and win at the provincial, national and international levels, and based on their example Allison would like to see more clubs around the province and Canada.