This is the fourth and final preview in a quick-and-dirty series about Canadian national-training centres. We asked coaches to send their 2012/2013 rosters and tell us what’s new for the coming season. Teams were presented in no particular order.
Team: Callaghan Valley Training Centre (CVTC)
Coaches: Chris Manhard (head coach), Graham Maclean (assistant/wax tech), Maria Lundgren (administrator/part-time coach), Neil Manhard (part-time wax tech)
Senior roster: Geoffrey Richards, Yannick Lapierre, Martin Schrama and Sébastien Townsend
Who’s new: Townsend and Lapierre (from Nakkertok)
Who’s missing: Colin Abbott (Yukon Elite Squad), Jeff Kerkovius (back to university), Jeff Wood (University of British Columbia), Adriene Underhill (retired), Kajsa Heyes (ankle surgery), Olivia Nesbitt (Rocky Mountain Racers)
Top results last season: Shortly after his 20th birthday, Richards won the junior men’s 15 k skate race at Canadian Ski Nationals in Mont Sainte-Anne, Quebec, by about a minute. He had previously placed second in the junior men’s 1.4 k skate sprint at nationals, and was 16th in the pursuit at the Junior World Ski Championships in Erzurum, Turkey.
Kerkovius notched silver at nationals in the junior men’s 10 k classic race, just ahead of Schrama, who was third.
A CVTC junior squad member, Stefan Sander-Green was the second Canadian in the junior men’s 30 k classic mass start at nationals and fourth overall after two Norwegians.
Abbott had what coach Manhard called an “excellent year as U23,” finishing ninth at nationals in the open men’s 50 k classic mass start and consistently placing within the top 20 on the NorAm circuit. Originally from Whitehorse, he’s returning to his roots in the Yukon Territory.
Coach’s comment: “New and notable seems to be a emergence of a gentleman’s club,” Manhard wrote in an email, adding, “(this term I use very loosely).”
With four men on its senior roster and five junior males, this team doesn’t have a single woman, and Manhard explained why.
“With one coach for a centre, it was very difficult balancing the boys training and social environment and the girls training and social environment,” he wrote. “With only the boys to manage it has given me more of an opportunity focus on each athlete do a better job.”
He went on to state that a smaller team has been “far more manageable this year,” and he’s pleased with the group: “[They’re] very close in abilities and they work well in training to push each other every session.”
In the program’s third year as a national-training centre (based in Whistler, B.C.), Manhard commented on how far it’s come and the struggles it has endured.
“When I moved to Whistler, I was the first person in the athlete village (Olympic Village) and to see it now is quite amazing,” he wrote. “Creating the centre has been wonderful and stressful. There always seems to be more to add to the program and getting to know the Whistler locals has been slow so most of the time it tends to be the athletes and me.”
Team members live in athlete townhouses about 20 seconds away from Manhard’s home, making for “24-7 immersion,” he wrote.
“The rest of the training centres coaches have been very helpful and supportive in every way,” he added. “If I am having a problem with anything, I know that I can phone either the national team or training centre coaches and discuss the issues and options. I am happy where the training centre has made it to and despite a few setbacks along the way, the centre has grown tremendously and I am very happy to see where it is now.”
This season, Manhard’s especially impressed with his junior skiers and is excited to see who will lead them once racing starts.
“[Former nordic-combined skier Sebastien] Dandurand has been the skating leader in time trials and [Paul] Dupuis has been the double pole champion so far,” he wrote. “The seniors have stepped up their game, but Geoffrey continues to lead the pack in the time trials.”
However, Manhard didn’t overlook Townsend, who’s coming off an arm injury from last season and missed most of the time trials.
The CVTC started its training season with a week of skiing at Callaghan Country Lodge in Callaghan Valley, B.C., according to Richards. In July, they completed two Yo-Yo sessions at lower and higher altitudes between Canmore, Alberta, and the nearby Haig Glacier. They also spent a few days backpacking and running along Mount Assiniboine on the Great Divide.
“Training so far this summer has been amazing,” Richards wrote in a message. “For me, the best season so far, Chris has really stepped this up this year and taken us to lots of cool new places to train.”
On a coaching note, when it comes to the role of Maclean (also a national-team wax technician), Manhard explained he is part-time and mostly involved with camps, early season work, and equipment management.
“He will be on the world cup for part of the winter and he is helping manage the tech side of Sochi [Olympics in 2014],” Manhard wrote. “We sit down at the beginning of the year and go over where my needs are the greatest for support and he fills in where possible.”
Lundgren could be working nearly full time next year to offset the seasonal absence of Maclean, but she recently had a child and has mostly been on administrative leave.