Wadsworth Says Nothing’s Final on Hetland, Rest of CCC Team-Staffing Decisions

Alex KochonApril 15, 201415

Justin Wadsworth’s not sure how it got out there, but he said incorrect information reached the press on Tuesday regarding the Canadian World Cup Team’s coaching and waxing staff for the 2014/2015 season.

Le Journal de Quebec first ran a report about Alex Harvey being at the center of controversy, stating that Norwegian Tor Arne Hetland — who most recently worked as the Swiss sprint coach — was replacing Wadsworth as head coach.

FasterSkier called Harvey to confirm and couldn’t immediately reach Wadsworth. Harvey said he understood that Hetland be would more of a co-head coach with Louis Bouchard, now a national-team coach and head of the Pierre-Harvey Training Centre. He thought that Hetland, who did not renew his contract with Switzerland’s national team this spring, according to FIS, would write training plans for his three Canmore-based teammates: Devon Kershaw, Ivan Babikov and Lenny Valjas.

Soon after the story was published on FasterSkier, which has since been removed and revised, Wadsworth emailed to state there had been a big misunderstanding. “This is not the case [about Hetland being the new coach], and the Quebec reporter who wrote the article called later to get the fact straight,” he wrote.

Upon a follow-up phone call, Wadsworth could not elaborate on details of Cross Country Canada’s (CCC) decisions regarding team staffing because they hadn’t been sorted out yet, he said.

“We’re far from making any official decisions on anything,” he said. “I’m not really sure why that news came out like that today. It’s definitely not something that’s true right now.”

In terms of his role with the team, he said it’s in the beginning stages of negotiation. Nothing has been decided regarding whether he’ll work directly with developing athletes or not, as previous reports suggested.

“We’re a long way away from things happening in our organization,” he said. “We’ve talked to Tor Arne, but there’s no contract. But my position is up in the air — I’m gonna remain head coach as long as we can figure out a [solution].”

Internal meetings will continue next week and Wadsworth said CCC would likely make an official announcement the following week — the last few days of April.

Asked whether any of the reported additions to the team’s waxing staff had been made, he said, “We have not finalized anything with anyone yet.”

That includes Fabio Ghasifi, an Italian wax tech who’s worked with the Japanese World Cup team since the 2002/2003 season, according to Japan’s head coach Hisashi Yamaguchi. Ghasifi was initially reported to replace Sasha Bergeron, a glide-wax specialist who worked primarily with Valjas and Dasha Gaiazova on the World Cup. Harvey said Bergeron is leaving the team for family reasons; his wife is pregnant with their second child.

“We’ve talked to Fabio, but I’ve also talked to others as well,” Wadsworth explained.

One (or two) things that might stick are Harvey’s two test pilots. According to Harvey, his personal sponsor since 2009 and a team sponsor sine 2010, B2ten plans to pay for two wax testers, specifically hired to ski on Harvey’s skis in preparation for races.

Harvey said the two men — Lee Churchill and Graham MacLean, selected because of their similar builds to his reportedly 6-foot-1-inch, 170-pound frame, and their abilities to knock off many kilometers at a whack — will alternate throughout the racing season so that one of them accompanies him on the road all winter.

“That’s the way a lot of teams are going now,” Harvey said. “You see wax technicians, they look like World Cup athletes.”

Wadsworth wrote: “If that happens, and we think it could work, then they would be integrated into our waxing staff.”

CCC High Performance Director Thomas Holland could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon (alex@fasterskier.com) 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.

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  • Martin Hall

    April 16, 2014 at 10:23 am

    I almost didn’t want to open up the FasterSkier web site this morning as I’m still bent over laughing about the articles from the last few days. It sure is apparent that the downhill slide of the CCC program in Canada that started 3 years ago hasn’t ended. It definitely is apparent that there is a HUGE LACK of leadership at all levels of the program. I don’t know how you go about firing or replacing this leadership when you are suppose to be the leadership. Right now the ED, Chairperson and the HPD should feel like they are on thin ice, especially with what has been occurring in the papers and ski papers these last couple of weeks!
    There is very little international competence through out this whole structure of CCC and those people in Canada that could help in these areas are not included anywhere in the hierarchy. People like Bjorger Pettersen, Jack Sasseville, Laurent Roux, Lyle Wison, Al Maddox, Dave Rees, even Dave Wood, who is considered an enemy of the program.. A couple of these people in the High Performance Committee would help raise the oversight of this group. It isn’t always necessary to re-create the wheel.
    I knew many days ago about Tor Arne’s (who is Canmore as I write this) supposed inclusion into the program as the international coach, covering for the Head Coach who wants to cut down on his travel on the WC circuit even more then it has been these past couple of years. I’s be surprised if this winter he was with the team half of the winter—that is in my estimation very unprofessional in regards to his responsibilities for the program , the skiers and the interaction of all the different internal and external machinations a head coach has to deal with.
    Big deal about the waxing and the supposed imprint of the testers to look and ski like Alex—if they ski like Alex then they should trade their waxing bibs for racing bibs. It is a good idea, but when Alex has the pedal to the metal they are back there in the dust!All of this is a constant process and needs continuous fine tuning and leadership—a common thread—there can be no charging into the wax room and laying a trip on the waxers. Always remember that the racer is the last skier on the skis before he goes into the gate to start the race—–and if he isn’t—then he has no recourse to be pissed off—those are his skis and like I just said–no one skis like Alex.
    I could go on and on, but it is time for someone to stand up and decide how this is going to all come together. A think tank would have been a good solution a couple of weeks ago for with dealing with these issues with some new outlooks.
    Me thinks it would be a good time for Justin to get his name on the list in the US as they might have at least one retirement this spring from what I’m hearing. His co-coach has jumped ship, very smartly, as he should have been fired also, as his record with the women’s program these past 4 years was abysmal.
    I would encourage these guys to get their act together and at least look professional in stead of continuing to trip all over themselves time after time. I sure get the feeling that they don’t have a clue!!!!!

  • zetop

    April 16, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    As a long time observer of the scene, I thank you for your direct and enlightened observation (again!).

  • jackxc

    April 16, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Please don’t tell me that we are going to get ANOTHER Norwegian saviour to coach the Canadian NST. If this is the case it shows the real issue in Canada – a lack of coach training at the highest level. It seems like it is 20 years since we have had a decent coaching certification program that produces quality Canadian coaches. we continue to have to go to Norway (Braten, Monsen, Mundal twice) or the US to get Canadian coaches. There should be at least 5 coaches in Canada who could step forward to do this job but apparently there are none. Louis Bouchard is good enough, but does not want to leave Quebec. Where are the rest.
    Marty is right – if you look at any professional sports franchise that is successful or not you can see that it all starts at the top – at the highest level of staff and organizers. Corporations understand that it is at the CEO level where the buck has to stop. The organization needs to look at itself from the very top down. Everyone is to blame for these results, not just the coaches and skiers.
    The fact that this story is out shows just how unprofessional things have become. I feel bad for Justin to hear in the press that you have been fired or demoted. Where did this story come from? Who did the talking? It must have been someone close to the team.

  • bjorger

    April 16, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Cross Country Canada is an organization that is trying to do their best with a very complicated matter, unfortunatly they are an organization where either leadership or staff have no international racing intelegence or are in over their heads. In most other Nations the coaches and team staff would have been fired the day after the Olympics.
    Three years ago we were the most improved Nation in the world, almost all gone, let’s at least save Alex Harvey! Drastic action must now be taken to save this ship:
    1. Rewrite the constitution and bi-laws so all staff are responible to the board and National Ski Team Committe.
    2. Select a National Ski Team Committe of knowledable people with International racing intelegence.
    3. Hire new coaches and staff.
    4. Create a Canadian program based on Canadian values and findings.
    5. Use the Canadian Sports Science program.
    Bjorger Pettersen

  • wiler2

    April 16, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Jack are you kidding, you feel bad for justin – how about the program that has been been completely dismantled and the future ripple effect on Canadian skiing. Leaders ( Executive Director, High Performance Director – etc) need to go quicker than I can hit the refresh button.

  • TooHeavy

    April 16, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    In defence of the Canadian ski team and management. The country has not progressed with the rest of the world. Where is our snow tube? They have been on the Euro stage for about ten years now. We have had several poor winters in the last ten years. We also had all our eggs in one basket. ( Beckie, Sara, Harvey, Bab and Devon). Equipment has got very expensive and travel (ie gas is out of hand to go and ski at a decent trail system). Lots of problems on the development side outside of coaching.

    Just a few of my observations.

  • zetop

    April 17, 2014 at 12:44 am

    Yep “Lots of problems on the development side outside of coaching”, but I do think that coaching or lack of, is part of the the equation. Vancouver came as a big surprise for everyone and the next 2 years were just an upward curve to manage: Bab received his citizenship, Kerch blossomed, Alex came of age and Lenny … appeared! The women didn’t move that much, but they had potential. Then, “we” were World Champions! The rest is history, let just say that personal bias lead the parade downward… Alex and Bab were the only ones to keep their focus(mostly by themselves). Now what! How are we going to keep the boat afloat. By hiring a (very competent) foreigner? Be it a home groan product or not, it is a lot of pressure for 1 individual. The blame has to be assed by the top management and a new paradigm has to emerged within a pattern that assures a regular flow of financial support, be it from government or private interest (maybe the Northug and Johaug sponsorship philosophy management can be a source of inspiration)…

  • bjorger

    April 17, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Ski Friends:
    I when I made my last comments I was travelling and pushed for time; one should always re-read everything one writes, I knew better. I apologize for the spelling errors!
    Ski Faster might prove to be a means to improve Canadian Cross Country skiing, as a lot of powerful ideas have been brought forward here. All we are trying to do is to help Canadian Cross Country skiing progress.

    Bjorger Pettersen

  • jackxc

    April 17, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    The other big area of the performance pyramid that has been neglected is the training centers. In speaking with Pierre Harvey during the Olympics he told me that he has been asking over and over again for more funding for the training centers. He told me that last season in a budget of over 5 million CCC put less than $400,000 towards the training centers. When he asked the leaders of CCC where the rest of the money had gone, they could not tell him – “programs” was the answer that he says he was given.
    In a system that is working when the skiers at the top drop off there are others that will push past them. Bjorger used to call this ventilation. This is not happening, look at the results from Nationals this year. Ivan comes home after a long year in Europe and in an event that he doesn’t even want to compete in on the World cup, the 50 km classic (he skipped Oslo) he easily beats the field in Canada. The same was true for the womens events. As well, the skiers who qualified in January for the Olympics did nothing to make me think that there was anyone there who could challenge for the podium in 2018.
    Where are the next skiers supposed to come from if the training centers are funded so poorly? Just ask any parent of a skier in a training center and they will tell you where the funding is coming from – it is coming from them. There have been very few opportunities for these skiers to gain international experience in Europe and it is going to be even less if there is a drop in funding from Own the Podium.
    The training centers need more and better coaching, more opportunities for the skiers to compete at a higher level outside of Canada and more resources. This is where the next group at the top is going to come from. What are the plans to improve here? Even Winsport recognizes that there is an issue here – hence the new team that Eric de Nys is coaching. Unfortunately this will be another team that will draw skiers from the Bow Valley with little for the rest of the country.

  • zetop

    April 18, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Amen to that, Jakxc! That is why I think the private sector is part of the key, relying too much on government funding is a dead end.
    Fact is: At Orford we noticed an increased membership AND interest in the “cool factor” surrounding Alex. It “has” to be the same all over the country. The potential “mass volume” being there, all there is to be done is to find a way to channel the funding…

  • campirecord

    April 18, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Unfortunately, the private sector invests in athletes, image, not in a sport. Ask RedBull, Mcdees, Oakley or Fischer. CCC needs to decentralize and Jack is dead on about where the money needs to go. They are some clubs out there where coaches are impossible to replace, such little salaries and long hours. The cost of racing has become obscene for a Junior coming from the East. The distribution of race geography has been a complete insult to my wallet. 3 races out west and Nationals in the middle of no where (god bless blow me down, but there are some simple realities out there). A ski season has also become a smorgasbord of races as opposed to proper training at a younger age. The cost of having a top athlete at a place like CNEPH is unreal, yet we know that it’s not abusive when we look at CCC budgets. Apparently a wax truck didn’t help much and the ridiculous power struggle is a clear sign of dismay. Who’s in charge of my federation ? I would also state, the lack of eastern support, when you look at something like the world junior team, clearly show that you don’t have to define xc skiing by the sight of the Three Sisters. Sure, we don’t have petro dollars, but there is definitely a culture that is not properly represented in Canmore. To this day, the largest populated areas of Canada still have no minimal installations for an extended ski season, that alone is a debate of its own. Do we really want to have the Polish team model ? I know a King in QC who could do very well thank you without cccski. Talk about loss of leadership.

  • Martin Hall

    April 19, 2014 at 11:22 am

    There is one missing voice in all that has transpired so far with CCC’s National XC Team debacle—-where is the HPD—the High Performance Director—-the administrative person who over sees the team and deals with and is responsible for the coaching staff and its programs most directly—-Tom Holland. Flying right under the radar so far—he should be the spokes person.

  • bornindeusa

    April 19, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Good grief. Enough already. Put down your saber-rattles, step away from the jungle-drums, and take a breather. Some uneducated remarks from an athlete with a serious lack of judgment, a little confusion in the press, and here we go, the great Canadian peanut gallery (led by none other than fantasy-fact-finder Marty Hall!) strikes again. Only in Canada would people (largely disgraced elderly coaches and their crones as far as I can tell) think that posting vicious critical assessments of an NSF and their staff on the message-board of a ski web-site is appropriate.
    Y’all want a great country that produces great skiers year after year? Is that really the goal and the intent of all this spewing of vitriol and “burn them at the stake” sentiment? Well here’s a BIG tip. First, learn the facts. Making up your own or going off heresy doesn’t quite cut it…Then, if you have something worthwhile to say, bring it forward in the correct forum (I’m thinking a meeting, phone-call, visit, etc) in a conciliatory, supportive manner demonstrating your sincere interest in helping the team, the program, the nation, etc, make progress. Then, (this part is going to be hard because it goes against everything you appear to really enjoy and it’s kind of a Canadian tradition as far as I can tell!) – resist the urge to tear good, honest, bright, hard-working people to shreds every chance you get. Yes, I know. It’s not as much fun as making up your own stories and “guesstimates” and spouting them out every chance you get (never let the facts get in the way of a tongue-lashing eh Marty!), but guess what, other sports and other countries do this, and it works. It actually works Canada. You should try it.

  • jo546

    April 20, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    bornindeusa makes some good points. To me this sounds like a lot of bitterness from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s coaches. What was happening during those years? If anyone, those former coaches should know that criticizing the head coaches in the media is not an acceptable way to address issues. Try using the phone.

  • Martin Hall

    April 23, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Gosh!!! It looks like you guys are ganging up on me—-but, I just went up to the beginning of the comments section—I don’t see any tearing apart of the coaching staff, yes, the admin people who are respomsible for CCC, staffing and programs— I think I make a suggestion there about having a group of past people that could help fill the international knowledge void—made some comments about Hetland and waxing—but nothing heavily derogatory. The comments by Bornintheusa—-I don’t see any facts being quoted by myself—-but the demise of the program is very evident—the offer for or better yet the people who could have helped were never approached and would have helped—-I know.
    I know one other thing that is very true and not a rumor—I at least step forward under my name not some cute moniker that hides who you are and lets you spew your very biased vitriol—–you are the person with the bitter past. From what you have to spew I’m sure I know who you are—NKT still burns your butt.

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