For non-traditional cross-country ski nations like the U.S. and Canada, bringing home Olympic hardware is the benchmark for success. The World Cup, although prestigious among fans and athletes, doesn’t share the same fanfare. And just below Olympic success, and again, off the general public’s radar are World Championship results. Canada has Olympic nordic sport hardware: Beckie Scott’s 2002 gold, Chandra Crawford’s 2006 gold, and the duo of Scott and Sara Renner winning silver in in the team sprint also in 2006. Recent World Championship awards include Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw winning team sprint gold in 2011. Harvey followed that up with more world-champs hardware: a sprint bronze in 2013, a sprint silver in 2015, and bronze that same year in the 30 k skiathlon.
Canada’s cross country scene is not lacking for international medals. Yet in recent years, the sport has received a smaller piece of the sports funding pie from government entities like Own The Podium (OTP), and from independent sponsors. Canada is now emerging into the women’s World Cup ranks again, Dahria Beatty recently advanced to the sprint quarterfinals in Davos, Switzerland — she finished 25th on the day. But for many years as the men’s team was loaded with Harvey, Kershaw, and Valjas, on and off the record the sense was that the women’s side of the equation languished. The responsibility for developing the sport in Canada ultimately falls to Cross Country Canada (CCC), the national governing body for the sport.
CCC’s most recent CEO, Pierre Lafontaine, remained in the job for a year. Starting Jan. 1, 2017, the CEO role will belong to Shane Pearsall.
Sound like a new name in cross-country ski circles? It is. Pearsall, 58, does come to the job with administrative experience in sport, for three years he served as Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton’s (BCS) chief operating officer. In terms of connection to potential sponsors, Pearsall also worked in the oil and gas industry for 25 years including a long stint with AltaGas, a primary sponsor of CCC and its World Cup team. As an athlete, Pearsall was an elite hockey player and was a member of the 1980 Canadian men’s national team.
In this Nordic Nation episode, Pearsall answers questions about his vision for CCC and how he’ll measure success.
Have a listen by clicking play below or subscribe on iTunes here.