Thursday, December 6, 2001 - Perspective
Phil's XC Journal #11: Olympic Bound or Bust

- By: Phil Villeneuve

Hi Everyone,
I know this seems like a quick back to back dose of my journal but there is a matter of great importance developing in the sport of Cross Country Skiing.

Following the races in Silver Star, there has been a push to give the Canadian men's team a chance to qualify a relay team for the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. I won't go into great detail or sugar coat you into thinking that it is a fairy tale story but here it is.

So far, a full woman's team (5) and only one man (Donald Farley) have qualified for the 2002 Olympics. Now here's a bit of technical explanation on qualifying process. (I know it boring but it's essential to understand). Our governing body, Cross Country Canada (CCC), sets standards at races across North America to see if the racers are skiing at a level worthy of racing at the Olympic Games (editor's note: Olympic standards are set by the Canadian Olympic Association (COA), not by CCC). The races on Silver Star Mountain, BC. were qualifying races to get a chance to race the World Cup races in Europe before Christmas. This would give the individual men the chance to meet the Canadian Olympic Association (COA) standard and a chance to race at the Olympics. There are 2 ways to qualify for the Olympics in Cross Country Skiing. The first is to qualify as an individual by making the COA standard of 94.64% (twice) of the World Cup winner and the second is to qualify as a relay team by making the COA standard of 96% of the avg. of the top 3 teams on a World Cup. (one last detail) In order to race on World Cup, an individual must meet a specific criteria (less than 50 FIS pts-too complicated to explain). However, in order to race in a World Cup relay, ANY COUNTRY CAN ENTER A TEAM, there are no restrictions!

After the opening races in Silver Star no extra men had made the CCC standard as an INDIVIDUAL for the World Cup trip and therefore no men would have a chance to race at the Olympics. The men (editor's note: not all Canadian men agree with this view) believe that we should still have a CHANCE TO QUALIFY A MEN'S RELAY TEAM for the 2002 Olympic Games.

An ex-National team skier by the name of Dominic Gagnon has been heading a movement to send a men's team to Davos, Switzerland to race in the World Cup Relay on December 16th and get that chance to qualify a full men's team at the Games. He understood that the men did not achieve CCC standards and therefore went about organizing a trip that would be PRIVATELY SUPPORTED AND FUNDED. All the men needed were to get CCC to register the team in the World Cup...easier said than done!

Seven men have accepted to represent Canada and go for the standard. These men are: Steve Cyr, Donald Farley (tentative), Robin Mckeever, Jean Paquet (tentative), Guido Visser, Phil Villeneuve and Dominic Gagnon (support and alternate). We are set to leave Tuesday the 4th of December and so far CCC has not agreed to register the team in World Cup. What seemed like a simple action has now become a major political issue within the sport. CCC's view is that the men have not achieved the National standard, will not make the Olympic standard in the World Cup Relay and therefore do not even deserve the chance to represent Canada on the World Cup. WHETHER THEY BELIEVE THAT WE CAN MAKE THE OLYMPIC STANDARD OR NOT, THE MEN STILL WANT THAT CHANCE!

If you believe and support the idea that the Canadian men's cross country ski team should have the CHANCE to represent Canada at the Olympics I encourage you to email Cross Country Canada at . IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SUPPORT THE TEAM IN THEIR TRAVELS TO DAVOS, SWITZERLAND PLEASE RESPOND TO ME VIA . ANY DONATIONS WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED. I will be on the road as of Tuesday but will be checking my email regularly.

Thanks for reading,
Phil


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