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Whistler skiers step up training, commitment

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Club offers high performance programs to athletes

As one of the strongest ski clubs in the province, the Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) has produced its fair share of champions, regionally, provincially, and nationally, many of whom have gone on to compete at the international level.

Three club alumni are currently on the Canadian Alpine Ski Team (Mike Giannelli, Jeff Hume and Britt Janyk) and three are on the national development team (Michael Janyk, Christina Risler and Benjamin Thornhill). Nanaimo’s Allison Forsyth, one of the top female skiers in the world, also trained with the club for a period.

There is always room for improvement, however. Whistler Mountain ski coach Jordan Williams is confident that the club is on the verge of a breakthrough season, largely due to the level of commitment made by the athletes themselves.

"We had a large demand after last year from racers who wanted to train full time this summer," says Williams. "Basically you had a choice. You could race on weekends or three or four days a week, or you could go even further."

The club created two programs: a part-time program that caters to athletes committed to other sports and school, or who aren’t as serious, and a full-time program that included two training sessions per day, five days a week, another half-day of training, and just one day off.

"What this has done is given us more of an opportunity to demand more from the athlete, and not just live with the day-to-day progression," explains Williams.

"For some kids it was a little too much, and some kids could have done more, and I think that’s based on their level of maturity. They tend to let go more, they work harder, and it’s a natural thing.

"Through our goal-setting focus, the kids tend to push themselves to be a little more mature than they need to be – because I guess society doesn’t expect you to be very mature anymore. You can see these guys thinking ahead, and learning more than their peers, and really taking advantage of the opportunity. It’s not the coach whipping them anymore, they’re coming to the coach for information or assistance."

It’s also forced the coaches to push themselves to be better at what they do, says Williams, and to make sure they have that information and assistance ready.

The training itself this off-season was a mix of dryland and on-snow, with camps in Europe and New Zealand for the top FIS level racers. In addition to physical conditioning, Williams says he likes to mix it up with a series of challenges.

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