Note: This is the first of four previews providing an inside look at Canada’s national training centres and their respective senior teams this season. We asked coaches to tell us what’s new, whom to look out for, and the outlook on the winter ahead.
Team: Callaghan Valley Training Centre (CVTC)
Coaches: Chris Manhard (head coach), Maria Lundgren (assistant coach), Graham Maclean (wax tech), Shannon Thompson (mental performance coach)
Athletes: Martin Schrama, Paul Dupuis, Geoffrey Richards, Sebastien Dandurand, Andrew Avis, Sam Morris, Liam Patterson, Colin Foley, Benjamin Osorio
No women because there weren’t enough applicants, according to Callaghan Valley’s marketing and communications director Magi Scallion.
“It just so happens that in the past couple years we’ve not had enough female applicants to create a reasonable female training group,” she wrote in an email. “We would love to have more females on the team and are just waiting for the right opportunity and critical mass.”
Who’s new: Avis (from Goderich, Ontario) “Andrew is relatively new to the sport of cross country skiing as he came from a boxing and hockey background,” Scallion explained. “He’s fitting in really well and seeing some big improvements in training this year.”
Morris (West Vancouver, B.C.) “… A tenacious competitor and really enjoying the team dynamic,” she added. “He’s one of the younger members of the team but certainly not scared of taking leadership or duking it out with the older boys in time trials.”
Patterson (Thunder Bay, Ontario). “Thunder Bay is a real hotbed of skiing and Liam’s got some great experience and talent,” Scallion wrote. “He’s had some injuries and has not be able to run as much as the rest of the team, but is getting healthy quickly and is looking forward to a great winter.”
Foley (Ottawa) “… Very talented and driven,” according to Scallion. “We’re enjoying having his skill and passion around. Technique is a major focus for him this training season.”
Osorio (Huntsville) “Ben joins the U23 squad of the CVTC and is really enjoying training in a focused environment,” she wrote. “He’s going to see some big improvements this winter.”
Who’s missing: Yannick Lapierre and Sebastien Townsend (accepted at Alberta World Cup Academy in Canmore); Stefan Sander-Green (returned to hometown of Kimberley, B.C., and is training with local club there); Colin Ferrie (living in Kimberley, training with BlackJack Ski Club and head coach Dave Wood out of Rossland, B.C.); Fred Weaver (off to school)
Top results last season:
At 19, Dandurand, who previously excelled in nordic combined, earned three bronzes in each of the junior distance races at Canadian nationals in Whistler, B.C. Earlier in the season, he topped the NorAm junior podium at Western Canadian Championships in Grand Prairie, Alberta, where he won the skate sprint and 30 k freestyle pursuit for third overall in the mini tour. He also made the podium at the Ottawa NorAm, placing third as a junior in the 15 k skate.
Another junior, Dupuis, 20, was fourth in the NorAm skate sprint in Grand Prairie, and placed fifth in the 15 k classic there and classic sprint at the NorAm in Thunder Bay.
As a senior, Richards, 21, pulled off a top 20 in the classic sprint at Canadian Nationals and nabbed 10th in the Sovereign Lake NorAm 15-kilometer classic mass start early last season. Also 21, Schrama was in the top 25 at three NorAms last season.
“Everybody is in great shape and great spirits following a pretty hard training camp throughout September,” Scallion wrote, based on conversations with coach Manhard.
In early July, the team got together and down to business in Whistler, B.C., then flew to Park City for a camp later that month. Its athletes spent September touring British Columbia (plus a week on the Haig Glacier in Alberta), and later this month, they’ll head back to Canmore for a week on snow at Frozen Thunder before returning to Whistler for more skiing, weather permitting. In November, they’ll ski some more at Silver Star in Vernon, B.C., before the race season starts.
“Our goals this season are to qualify as many athletes as possible for U23 and World Junior Championships,” Scallion wrote, noting the team’s relative youth in its fourth season since its inception in 2010. “Medals at national championships are also important.
“One of our major focuses is team cohesion and having a positive, energizing, supportive team atmosphere,” she added. “We’re carefully monitoring this and our mental coach, Shannon, has been very useful to this regard.”
Bonus: For more on the CVTC, check out their introductory video.