As the Alberta World Cup Academy wraps up their third training camp of the year in preparation for the 2010-2011 season, one thing is clear: the combination of experience and enthusiasm that has been integral to the team’s past success is again in place.
Seven athletes and one coach are new to the team this year, and there are many likely candidates to fill the leadership roles left vacant by six experienced athletes who retired this spring after years of chasing the 2010 Olympics.
Among the new athletes to the team is 29 year-old Drew Goldsack, a two-time Olympian who has also competed at three World Championships. He is joined by 2010 Olympian Brittany Webster and multiple NorAm winner Graham Nishikawa among a key group who can provide the perspective gained from decorated ski careers.
On the other end of the age spectrum is seventeen-year-old Zach Holland, the youngest member of the team who is just beginning his international career, but has already successfully competed at the World Junior Championships. He is one of seven junior Academy athletes, three of whom are new to the team. The talent of this young group is highlighted by the fact that they are all also members of the Junior National Ski Team. The junior athletes on the team – Jordan Cascagnette, Janelle Greer, Annika Hicks, Zach Holland, Rebecca Reid, Bob Thompson and Heidi Widmer – bring a fresh perspective to the group that was on display at the most recent training camp on the Haig Glacier. They will all be targeting the World Junior Championships scheduled for late January in Estonia.
In between the junior athletes and the most senior athletes on the team, you’d be hard pressed to find an athlete that doesn’t already have extensive international experience under their belt. Among the group that will be targeting the Under-23 and Senior World Championships in 2011 are Joey Burton, Chris Butler, Kate Brennan, Jess Cockney, Sara Hewitt, Marlis Kromm, Alysson Marshall, Pate Neumann, Emily Nishikawa and Kevin Sandau. All of these athletes have extensive international experience well beyond their years and have competed at a combined 23 World Championships. Despite their age every athlete in this group would be an experienced leader on any other team. Look no further than Kevin Sandau, a newly minted member of the Canadian National Ski Team, who turned heads last winter by nearly qualifying for the 2010 Olympic Team at the age of 21.
The 20 powerhouse athletes on the Academy will be guided through the 2010-2011 season by returning coaches Mike Cavaliere (2006 Olympic Coach) and Eric Groeneveld. Joining this all-star team is 2006 Olympian Chris Jeffries who moves over from Foothills Nordic Ski Club after leading them to an 8th consecutive National Club Championship title in 2009.
It’s a tall order to build on the success that the Academy has garnered in it’s first two season, but this ambitious group is poised to do just that when they open their competitive season in late November. Until then there are thousands of hours of dedicated hard work ahead.
Alberta World Cup Academy – 2010/2011
Mike Cavaliere – Canmore, AB
Chris Jeffries* – Canmore, AB
Eric Groeneveld – Canmore, AB
Joey Burton – Kamloops, BC
Christopher Butler – Thunder Bay, ON
Kate Brennan – Pakenham, ON
Jordan Cascagnette (Jr NST) – Penetanguishene, ON
Jess Cockney – Canmore, AB
Drew Goldsack* (NST) – Red Deer, AB
Janelle Greer* (Jr NST) – Whitehorse, YK
Sara Hewitt – Canmore, AB
Annika Hicks (Jr NST) – Canmore, AB
Zach Holland* (Jr NST) – Canmore, AB
Marlis Kromm – Calgary, AB
Alysson Marshall – Salmon Arm, BC
Pate Neumann* – Caledon, ON
Emily Nishikawa – Whitehorse, YK
Graham Nishikawa* – Whitehorse, YK
Rebecca Reid* (Jr NST) – Rossland, BC
Kevin Sandau (NST) – Canmore, AB
Bob Thompson (Jr NST) – Woodstock, ON
Brittany Webster* (NST) – Caledon, ON
Heidi Widmer (Jr NST) – Banff, AB
NST – National Ski Team
Jr NST – Junior National Ski Team
* – First year on team
Source: Alberta World Cup Academy