As if 12 five-hour training days in Bend, Ore., weren’t enough, the Canadian World Cup Team packed up and headed home to Canmore, Alberta, earlier this month for five more days of camp.
In all, it was a total of about two weeks, the usual for a training camp of this caliber. In a recent phone interview, national-team coach Justin Wadsworth explained it was important to “mix it up” and take advantage of training with out-of-town athletes like Alex Harvey, who is based in Quebec and one of the four men on the World Cup Team.
“We originally were trying to get up on the Haig Glacier when we came up here, but that didn’t happen,” Wadsworth said of Canmore, some 1,200 kilometers (760 miles) northeast of Bend.
So they took advantage of having in-house tools, like testing and meetings with strength trainers at the Bill Warren Training Centre at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
In Bend, a destination the team picked for its rollerskiing and other dryland options, Canada was represented in numbers with about 27 athletes. The Canadian World Cup Team, made up of Harvey, Devon Kershaw, Ivan Babikov, and Lenny Valjas, was joined by nearly two dozen skiers from mostly the Pierre-Harvey (CNEPH) and Thunder Bay (NDC) national-training centres.
Wadsworth explained that the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA), of which he is head coach, was also invited, but didn’t come. Head coaches of CNEPH and NDC, respectively, Louis Bouchard and Timo Puiras helped oversee a select a group of their own athletes in Bend.
“It was a really nice-sized group,” Wadsworth said. “We want to push for that … and get everybody in this country together. That was the first step. I would say very successful, I think [everybody] would say this was a good camp.”
In terms of gender, it was mostly men. Two-time Olympian Perianne Jones, now part of the AWCA and Canada’s B-team, trained with women like Cendrine Browne (CNEPH), Jennifer Jackson (NDC) and Alannah MacLean (NDC), Wadsworth said.
“We would have liked to have more women there, but this was a good start,” he added.
This season, there is no women’s A-team, or World Cup Team, because there weren’t any Canadian women that met the qualifying criteria at the end of 2013/2014.
In May, Cross Country Canada (CCC) nominated World Cup (A), B , C and D teams instead. The B-team includes three AWCA skiers: Jones, Graeme Killick and Jesse Cockney. Mostly U23-aged athletes make up what Wadsworth called the C-team: Browne, Dahria Beatty (AWCA) and Raphaël Couturier (CNEPH). The D-team is reserved for development-team athletes who meet high-end domestic criteria and includes five AWCA skiers: Emily Nishikawa, Heidi Widmer, Alysson Marshall, Kevin Sandau, Michael Somppi.
July marked the Canadians’ second time in Bend for a summer training camp after they held one of their altitude camps there last year (Mount Bachelor’s summit elevation is 2,764 meters — more than 9,000 feet). Before that, the World Cup Team trained on snow at Mount Bachelor in the spring for several years, but this time, the goal was to pound pavement and mountainside dirt.
“Graeme and Peri got on snow, but that was the first day the team got there,” Wadsworth said of the beginning of camp in late June. “They were just wrapping up the grooming on Mount Bachelor. We had been on snow at the Sunshine camp [near Canmore in May] so we weren’t too focused on getting on snow there.”
Bend was an attractive option for a number of reasons. For one, it’s Wadsworth’s former hometown.
“We looked at doing something in Whistler and the East, but we came back to Bend because we felt like it was the best place for an all-around camp with a big group,” he said. “The roads are really good there and there’s a ton of rollerskiing.”
The backside of Mount Bachelor is paved and “about the most flat place in the world,” he explained. “Beautiful road and no traffic.” They also trained on the mountain’s access road (about a 40-kilometre climb) and in gated developments with loops to avoid traffic.
“The goals from the physiological side was the volume, intensity, and the little bit of strength,” he said, adding that the weather was expected to be conducive for outdoor training.
“One thing about being around in the Rockies in June is that they call it ‘Monsoon June,’ ” he said. “It’s also good to have a place where we know we are going to be warm and dry and we can get a lot of training in.”
Workouts emphasized distance slightly more than speed, but the group logged two-to-three intensity sessions each week. The men and women teamed up for a sprint relay, which started with a prologue to match up athletes.
“The women were racing with the guys,” Wadsworth said. “It was fun and hard and we were really happy with how it worked out.”
Camp participants also did a bounding workout, marked by an extremely steep uphill, ran trails, and mountain biked one day for fun, with the option to road bike.
“They got to see a rattlesnake out there, too, and just experience quintessential Oregon,” he added.
“They got to see a rattlesnake out there, too, and just experience quintessential Oregon.” — Justin Wadsworth, Canadian National Team Head Coach
New to the World Cup’s coaching staff, Tor-Arne Hetland worked with Bouchard to lead the camp after planning workouts with Wadsworth.
“Tor-Arne, I think he works really well with the athletes and he’s a real professional and expects the athletes to give it their all,” Wadsworth said. “He’s been really good for the team so far, and [we’ll] continue to work like that for coaching and work on the training plans together.”
From Aug. 4-19, Hetland will head up another camp with Bouchard and the World Cup Team in Stratton, Vt. At the Stratton Mountain School, they’ll train with U.S. Ski Team members Andy Newell and Simi Hamilton.
“[Nordic director] Sverre Caldwell and everybody at Stratton has been really open to help us there,” Wadsworth explained. “We’re looking forward to having a camp and working together with them.”
In late September, the Canadians will have their annual altitude camp in Park City, Utah, then return to Canmore for on-snow, fall-prep at Frozen Thunder.
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.