A look at the 2012/2013 Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH) team. (Courtesy photo)

This is the second preview in a quick-and-dirty series about Canadian national-training centres. We asked coaches to send their 2012/2013 rosters and tell us what’s new for the coming season. We will be publishing additional reports over the next few weeks. Teams are presented in no particular order.

Team: Centre National d’Entraînement Pierre-Harvey (CNEPH), a.k.a. Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre

Coaches: Louis Bouchard (head coach), Godefroy Bilodeau (assistant coach), Vincent Renart (assistant coach), Lee Churchill (assistant coach/wax tech), Sacha Bergeron (World Cup wax tech, equipment/administration manager), Andre Renart (wax tech)

Roster: Alex Harvey (Canadian National Ski Team), Lenny Valjas (CNST), Frédéric Touchette, Aidan Lennie, Steffan Lloyd; Dasha Gaiazova (CNST)

Who’s new:

Gaiazova (CNST) in the 20 k classic mass start on Jan. 6 at U.S. nationals in Rumford, Maine. She finished fourth and later won the classic sprint. Formerly of Rocky Mountain Racers, Gaiazova moved east this spring to work with the Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre and its coach Louis Bouchard. (Photo: Flying Point Road/flyingpointroad.com)

Gaiazova, who left Rocky Mountain Racers in Canmore, Alberta, to head back to Québec. (A Moscow native, she moved to Montreal and later lived in Banff, Alberta.) In a CNEPH blog post, the 28-year-old wrote she switched teams, and coaches, to become a better sprinter, and is working with B2ten in Montreal and CNEPH in Mont-Sainte Anne and Québec City to achieve that.

“My coaches and I are going to try something different and focus only on specific ski sprinting,” she wrote. “I am excited to work on just one thing, one type of race, and I’m also very curious to see the changes this new focus will bring to my racing.”

Bouchard wrote in an email that he mentored Gaiazova in 2000 and they maintained a positive relationship since. Twelve years later, Bouchard, the new assistant men’s coach of the Canadian World Cup Team, invited her to train with him again this summer.

In addition to training in Mont-Sainte Anne, she’s also been working on sprint-specific power and speed in Montreal. According to Bouchard, B2ten has assisted CNEPH athletes for the last five years in areas such as mental preparation, physiology and World Cup funding.

“B2ten is a sort of a dream team capable of turning great athletes, some of the world’s best, into unbeatable champions,” Gaiazova wrote. “What can I say? When I train here I feel like I’d won jackpot in the lottery.”

— Lloyd, formerly of Nakkertok, recently joined the Pierre-Harvey development team after notching three NorAm top 10s in distance races last year. Bouchard wrote that he has good potential and is another positive addition to the team.

Who’s missing: N/A

Top results last season:

Alex Harvey leading Norway’s Niklas Dyrhaug in the men’s 15 k freestyle pursuit at World Cup Finals on March 18 in Falun, Sweden. Harvey ended up second to Petr Sedov of Russia and Dyrhaug was ninth.

Harvey won gold, two silvers and a bronze between the 2011/2012 World Cup and Tour de Ski, capturing his first victory in the World Cup Finals skate prologue in Falun, Sweden. He did so 25 years after his father, Pierre Harvey, whom the training centre is named after, won his first World Cup race in at the 1987 finals in Falun.

Harvey, 23, finished sixth overall in the World Cup this year, not far behind his teammate Devon Kershaw in second, and was 12th in the Tour de Ski. At Canadian Ski Nationals, he swept the three races he competed in.

Another 23-year-old World Cup skier, Valjas notched a career-best silver in March at the classic sprints in Drammen, Norway. A week later, he was third in the classic sprint in Stockholm and soon after emerged on the distance scene, winning bronze in the 15 k classic mass start in Falun.

A veteran national-team member, Gaiazova tallied two World Cup top 10s in classic sprints (eighth in Drammen; ninth in Rogla, Slovenia) and took second at Canadian nationals in the skate sprint.

Touchette has been battling injuries for the last two years, and according to the CNEPH website, he saw last season shortened because of “force majeure” – unforseeable circumstances that were out of the athlete’s control. He enters his eighth season with the team (same as Harvey) after pulling off four NorAm top 10s last year. According to Bouchard, the 24-year-old is in good shape now and could vie for a spot on the World Cup team next year.

Coach’s comment: With half of his seniors on the national team, Bouchard explained the focus is 2013 World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, and they’ll be ready.

“I think we have the strongest junior team in the country,” he added. “Raphaël Couturier and Alexis Turgeon can be really good [at the] international level soon, and also Anne-Marie Comeau,” all of which went to Junior World Championships last season.

“We try to prepare the next generation, so we want to use Alex, Lenny and Dasha for that,” Bouchard wrote. “So for sure in short term the biggest goal is the WC team, but if we want to be ready with the next generation (2018 and 2022), we need WC team close with my junior team … no secret sauce.”

With five young females, CNEPH has one of the largest junior squads in the nation, and Bouchard will continue to work with them for most of the summer. Once the World Cup season starts, he will head overseas while Bilodeau and Vincent Renart help the remaining skiers on the domestic circuit.


Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon (alexkochon@gmail.com) 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 Curated.com. 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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