Note: This is a brief update on the status of the Canadian National Ski Team. Check out this story with more details on the changes and transition.
Four days after Canadian National Ski Team members were supposed to have submitted their signed contracts, at least one athlete has not formally accepted a spot on the 2012/2013 World Cup team, and as of Tuesday, there was just one women on the team.
According to head coach Justin Wadsworth, Chandra Crawford had not yet returned her contract, but officials at Cross Country Canada extended the deadline to give athletes more time during what they considered a busy period. Perianne Jones signed on for another season and would attend the upcoming ski team camp in Bend, Ore., from May 16-28.
Despite making the red group and qualifying for the World Cup team, Dasha Gaiazova decided to train outside of it, at least until the fall. Cross Country Canada’s high performance director Tom Holland said she was “getting some testing outside of the World Cup program. After that period, we’ll assess how she interconnects with the national ski team program, but it is going outside the World Cup team program, which is a very set program.”
He said the goal with any athlete was not to rush them in their decisions and find the best fit for them.
Gaiazova said she would spend several weeks this summer training with Louis Bouchard, head coach of the Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre, but declined to confirm she was joining his team. Wadsworth said she’d be considered more of a development athlete, and Holland explained she would inevitably be back with the World Cup team this fall.
“There’s no conflict at all. I’m on the team and everything,” Gaiazova said. “To which capacity that still has to be determined.”
While the exact breakdown of athletes was uncertain, the national team will be seeing structural changes by splitting its men’s and women’s teams into separate training groups. Wadsworth said he will remain head coach while leading the men’s team as well, with Bouchard as an assistant.
Former senior development coach Eric de Nys will take over as women’s coach, with Torbjorn Karlsen as a special consultant. Coaches will travel with their respective teams to separate camps throughout the summer, giving the women more opportunities to train with the Americans. At their home base in Canmore, Alberta, athletes on the women’s World Cup team will be able to train with Alberta World Cup Academy women, specifically Alysson Marshall and Emily Nishikawa.
“Since they’re right here almost in the same building with us, we decided that instead of having two separate women’s programs, we really wanted to join [them],” Wadsworth said. “You can almost look at the Alberta World Cup Academy women’s team as part of our national ski team women’s team.”
Marshall and Nishikawa will travel with the women’s World Cup team to camps as development skiers. Wadsworth said the arrangement was mutually beneficial — if some of the women in Europe weren’t racing the World Cup on a given weekend, they could return to Canada for solid training and domestic race support.
“I think it’s exciting,” Wadsworth said of the new structure. “Unfortunately right now there’s only one woman on the team, but we’re gonna keep growing the team for the future here and hopefully they’ll see this team is going to be world leading.”
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.