Canadian National Team Taking New Form

Alex KochonMay 8, 20125

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

Alex Kochon ( is a former FasterSkier editor and roving reporter who never really lost touch with the nordic scene. A freelance writer, editor, and outdoor-loving mom of two, she lives in northeastern New York and enjoys adventuring in the Adirondacks. She shares her passion for sports and recreation as the co-founder of "Ride On! Mountain Bike Trail Guide" and a sales and content contributor at When she's not skiing or chasing her kids around, Alex assists authors as a production and marketing coordinator for iPub Global Connection.

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  • Martin Hall

    May 9, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Very interesting article—first off is there a mens team??
    As it is for sure right now there is not a women’s team.

    Note: This is a brief update on the status of the Canadian National Ski Team. Stay tuned for more details to better explain the changes and transition.

    So, who is the team—-as Dasha says—oh, I’m on the team—but I’m doing it my way—same old Dasha.

    It looks like Chandra has the wander lust also—lets just extend the sign-up date until next year.
    So we have:

  • Martin Hall

    May 9, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Team Jones—who is official
    Team Dasha–official/un-official–depending on who is talking

  • Martin Hall

    May 9, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Team Chandra–where ever she is—sort of gives you the feeling she may strike out on her own

    It is apparent that very little was done to involve the ladies in the off season in the decisions as to the make-up, coaches, and direction of this program.

    WHAT A MESS and I thought things were bad last year.
    Sorry for the multiple entries—too many phone calls and I’m pushing the wrong buttons—just like the guys in Canmore.

  • chadsalmela

    May 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    No disrespect, Marty, but if last year was so bad, I’d take that kind of bad any day. The infrastrural layout of the national program–where X athlete or Y athlete decides to train and which coach they are working with–shouldn’t be the measure of bad or good. I think the results should speak. If this is truly bad, then it will show in the results. But young adults today have been raised in a completely different world than those of the ’70s and ’80s. What was a national “team” then doesn’t necessarily presuppose that is what is necessary to succeed today. In fact, its probably contrary. When Bauer was the best, was the Czech program great top to bottom organizationally and programatically? Is Poland right now? Norway, Sweden, and maybe at times Finland (but not recently) could be the only countries who don’t face the same organizational “mess” you describe. See Lallukka press from this winter in Finland or Jauhojaervi’s struggles with the National Team for the last several years under one of the most respected ski coaches of all time. I’m not even bringing up Russia.

    I think last year’s success for Canada can be seen as a victory for the staff in managing modern high-level success. All the rest just makes Justin’s job more about communication and management than if he had a neat package of athletes in Canmore. And besides, it’s not about the coach. It’s about the athletes. Nobody wants it more than them, and they make their decisions accordingly. None of this is any different than like programs around the world.

  • Martin Hall

    May 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Chad—you have your perspective and it may be the modern way—but disorganization is not the foundation of success, not in my book anyway—if you read closely I made no comments about the men’s program other then it would have been a whole Canadian program if the women had been handled equally, rather then given them the short stick. The men went to Europe knowing they were going to be in Europe all winter—except for Babikov who did it the old fashion way—going back and forth at least twice if not 3 times, and his results in the 2nd half of the year looked like the old fashion results—they sucked. Most likely he didn’t make the qualifers for the 2nd half of the selection process for the team, but that will be overlooked.
    On the other hand the women were given the option to go home—no chance for them to stay in Europe like the boys and miss the altitude training at Seiser Alm and the bus rides, or the 20 hour flights both ways back and forth to Canada and then back to Europe(oh,its such fun) and the exposure to all the hundreds of healthy people they get to share their space with—a cross country skiers suicide trip. That’s the old way—staying in Europe is the new way—or maybe it was an experiment—the women did it the old way and the men the new way—we now have an answer.
    Yes, they(Canadian women) sprinted well, as a matter of fact very well—that’s obvious—-but Crawford was on a mission to improve her distance skiing—that was clearly stated in blogs and releases through out the year—that focus was dramatically short circuited by the the head coach. If you look at Kikkan 4 yrs ago(2009)—she was were Crawford and Gaiazova are now, in distance skiing,—great sprinters, but not cutting it in the distance category—one top 30 finish in the last 3 and a half years. Also, Kikkan was missing multiple qualifiacations in the sprinting. The biggest addition to her program since, has been the addition of more distance races and racing them—which has made her a better sprinter . Women’s sprinting has no dedicated sprinters like the men do–if there are, its the 3 Canadian girls because they were held out of distance races and sent back to Canada during the mid-winter—but as the distance racing has taken Kikkan from being a bottom fish to the top of the elite skiers in all disciplines, it’ll do the same for the Canadian women. The other places the women were short changed was in the number of races they missed, the training days they lost to travel, and recovery time they lost to travel. That’s a formula for success. They lost another year of building towards Sochii.
    My model teams are the Norwegians and the Swedes—we sure look to these countries as to how it is done and talk all the time about how good they are and about the history of where they have come from and it has bred lots of success for lots of years. I may be old fashion( I don’t think all of what you are talking about Chad, has changed that much,really) , but being organized and having equeal programs for the whole team sure seems like the model any one would want to have.
    What has gone asunder is the lack of leadership by the admin people at CCC responsible for this team and the coaching staff. It started over a year ago with the ladies and continues to brew there at a hotter temperature today.
    Even the American’s have a model program, with way fewer dollars than other programs at their level in the world and with athletes who are strongly behind these efforts and showing good success.
    There are more problems brewing around the corner for the Canadian Team— just a feeling.

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