Note: This is the second of four previews providing an inside look at Canada’s national training centres and their respective senior teams this season. We asked coaches to tell us what’s new, whom to look out for, and the outlook on the winter ahead. 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), Francois Pepin (assistant coach), Charles Castonguay (assistant coach), Lee Churchill (assistant coach/wax tech), Sacha Bergeron (World Cup wax tech, Andre Renart (wax tech)
Senior roster: Alex Harvey (World Cup Team), Raphaël Couturier, Simon Lapointe, Alexis Turgeon;
Dasha Gaiazova (World Cup Team), Cendrine Browne, Anne-Marie Comeau, Maya MacIssac-Jones, Frédérique Vézina
Who’s new: The entire women’s team, minus Gaiazova, moved up from CNEPH’s junior ranks to the big leagues, including Browne, Comeau and Vézina. Formerly with Rocky Mountain Racers in Canmore, Alberta, MacIssac-Jones made the Quebec training centre this season.
Who’s missing: According to head coach Louis Bouchard, three of the team’s senior men (Frédéric Touchette, Aidan Lennie, Steffan Lloyd) went back to school. World Cup skier Lenny Valjas moved to Canmore to train with the national team.
Touchette joined the Laval University ski program, Lennie is coaching for Skibec in Mont-Sainte Anne and Llyod is in Ottawa.
Top results last season: The Canadians were out for medals at World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, and Alex Harvey (the son of Pierre Harvey, whom CNEPH is named after) delivered with a bronze in the classic sprint. Earlier in the season in Val di Fiemme, Valjas and Harvey, now 25, placed second and third, respectively in the Tour de Ski 15-kilometer classic mass start.
Gaiazova, 29, tallied bronze in the February pre-Olympic team sprint with teammate Perianne Jones in Sochi, Russia. In January, she placed fourth in a World Cup classic sprint in Liberec, Czech Republic.
Also in Liberec, Browne, who turned 20 last month, notched 15th in the 5 k skate race at Junior World Championships. In turn, she earned a spot on Canada’s senior development team.
Couturier, 20, also made the national senior team this year, after placing 17th in the 20 k skiathlon at Junior Worlds.
Bouchard is a pretty busy guy between heading CNEPH in Quebec City/Mont-Sainte Anne and working with the World Cup team as an assistant men’s coach. This season, he explained in an email that he’ll be in Europe with the World Cup team all winter starting Nov. 10, when he flies with Harvey to Davos, Switzerland. As a result, Pepin, Castonguay and Churchill will be more responsible for the NorAm team.
When it comes to training camps, CNEPH goes big. This year, the staff brought its team to Montreal for testing in June and France in July to learn about altitude training and coping with jet lag. Earlier this month, they wrapped up another altitude camp in Canmore. Browne and Couturier were invited to the national-team training camps in Bend, Oregon, in June and New Zealand for on-snow training in late August.
In terms of goals, Bouchard laid them out pretty clearly: one Olympic podium, one top 20 at Junior Worlds, and one top 20 at U23 World Championships.
One good starting point: most everyone on the young team has already made it to Junior Worlds.
See also: Callaghan Valley
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.