With the 2014/2015 season officially in the rearview, FasterSkier is excited to unveil its annual award winners for this past winter. Votes stem from the FS staff, scattered across the U.S. and Canada, and while not scientific, they are intended to reflect a broader sense of the season in review.
Louis Bouchard has been Alex Harvey’s go-to coach for the last decade and the man in charge of the Pierre-Harvey Training Centre — one of three national training academies in Canada — for 15 years.
Also Cross Country Canada’s co-World Cup coach, Bouchard is well known across the country and internationally. He’s won multiple awards, including the 2014 Gala Triomphe International Coach of the Year, one of 15 accolades recognizing top athletes, coaches, volunteers, and sporting events around Québec City.
The soft-spoken French Canadian re-entered the spotlight this past February when Harvey, 26, lunged for a best-ever silver in the classic sprint at 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden. Not only had Harvey outdone his previous best of third in the classic sprint at 2013 World Championships, he also secured an important initial medal for Canada.
“Now we can expect so many things,” Bouchard said after the Falun sprint. “You need it for the program. You need it for the development. That is a benefit for everybody in Canada, so that is good.”
Development was key when it came to Harvey’s rise to two individual medals at 2015 World Championships in the classic sprint and the skiathlon (in which he took bronze two days later).
“He’s more stable, he has less injury, he can train more and recover more, so I think it’s normal to expect to see him get better and better at 26 years old,” Bouchard said.
And Bouchard is also responsible for developing a strong contingent of up-and-coming skiers in and around Québec City. Five of his athletes were nominated to the 2015/2016 national junior team (Anne-Marie Comeau, Marie Corriveau, Phillipe Boucher, Zachary Cristofanilli, and Olivier Hamel), and Cendrine Browne was one of five women named to Canada’s senior team (specifically, the C-U23 development team).
“I spend a lot of time thanking the people who occupy each of the development stages in my sport. Without them, I would not have this success,” Bouchard said after receiving his 2014 Gala Triomphe award, according to a translation. “I’m just finishing a job that was started long ago with Alex, as well as other athletes. All these people are important.
“We have developed a healthy human relationship exchange,” he added. “Alex is an academic, me, coach. He teaches me and I learn it.”
This season, Bouchard and national-team head coach Justin Wadsworth will trade off weekends heading the World Cup Team in Europe. The two have worked together with the team’s highest-level athletes for the last five years.
“Louis and I [have] a great relationship and great communication,” Wadsworth said shortly after CCC announced its integrated coaching structure in April. “I think that working relationship now is almost stronger than ever.”