Canada now has three Training Centres spread out across the country—Quebec, Thunder Bay, and Whistler. The Callaghan Valley Training Centre (CVTC) is still in its infancy—after four years, it’s still trying to get its legs under it and prove itself. Despite having the perfect training site, an Olympic venue, and ideal conditions for athletes to develop into top-tier athletes, the Centre has been dogged with bad luck—three coaches in four years, a complete athlete turnover after just two years, and now uncertainty for some of its athletes to even get on based on funding issues.
Camille Cheskey is one of those athletes. Born in Waterloo, Ontario, Cheskey was one of many Canadian junior athletes with the “What now?” question when he graduated from high school. While Canada has a university Nordic skiing circuit, aspiring athletes are encouraged to forgo school to focus solely on skiing. When given the choice, Cheskey chose the Callaghan Training Centre over Thunder Bay’s National Team Development Centre because the mountains and a chance to train on the Olympic trails day in and day out was too good to pass up. Like, many training centre athletes, his goals include the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
Despite proving himself on the Ontario Cup provincial circuit, Cheskey had a disappointing first year with CVTC. Adjusting to life on the west coast, a new coach and racing at a higher level has left the 20-year old feeling like he has something to prove.
Now he’s hoping to join up with the CVTC for a second year but is still waiting for the Centre to decide whether or not they’ll take him. The Centre has seven athletes at the moment, and is waiting to hear back from funding to see if they can add him to the team.
Despite the indecisiveness, Cheskey is staying positive.
“It’s a feeling of frustration,” said Cheskey in an interview. “But it’s out of my hands so the only thing I can do is try as hard as I can to focus and keep motivated when everything else seems to be working against me.”
Fortunately, his training has not suffered from this slight setback, instead it seems to be keeping him motivated and inspired to continue. “I’m leaps and bounds ahead of where I was last year at the same time. I’m living and working in Whistler where the training possibilities are extraordinary.”
Cheskey is self-coaching at the moment as he waits to hear back from CVTC. He’s using training varieties, techniques and ideas from last year’s coach, Lee Churchill, to keep things exciting and fresh. After that, he’ll either be joining his teammates at the training centre or will be looking for outside help.
“Savio at the Nordic Shop [in Whistler] has been one of the key people in helping me with planning and mental support to figure out my dilemma,” he said.
In case things don’t work out quite the way he hopes, Cheskey’s got plans in place. He has work lined up for the summer and winter—he works at The Core, a rock climbing gym in Whistler, as well as the Nordic Shop—as well as training plans.
“I have a good friend from Sweden who’s planning to come back to Whistler and train so he’ll likely be my main training partner.”
The real thing keeping Cheskey west? “I just can’t get over the mountains,” he said with a big grin.
Update: Since the publication of this story, Cheskey has received word from CVTC that they are unable to take him on this year. When contacted about it, he said that it was actually a relief to know. “I can at least get on with training and life now,” he said.