Friday, October 10, 2008 - LatestNews
Refined coaching and technical support team strategy to lead Nordic skiers to podium

- By: Cross Country Canada

CALGARY-Canada’s high-performance cross-country ski athletes will have a world-leading coaching and technical support team alongside their track to the Olympic and Paralympic podiums, thanks to financial support provided by Own the Podium 2010, Cross Country Canada announced on Thursday.


Through additional Own the Podium funding, Canada’s cross-country skiers will be led by an enhanced coaching structure that brings more than 30 years of experience, while also having access to a full-time technical support group, and an integrated support team, all critical resources essential to preparing for podium performances.


“Canada’s cross-country skiers have been on a steady rise up the international rankings, and are now regularly knocking on the door of the international podium at all levels,” said Al Maddox, executive director, Cross Country Canada, whose organization captured two medals at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games and six medals at the Paralympic Winter Games in Torino. “Through the generous support and leadership of Own the Podium, we can now deliver the world-leading resources our athletes need to gain a competitive advantage and better prepare to reach our goal of regularly climbing onto the podium with the leading nations in our sport.”


Dave Wood, who has been head coach of the National Ski Team for the last decade, will be advanced into the role of team leader. Wood will be responsible for leading the team into all major international competitions including World Championships and the Olympic Winter Games. While taking care of all organization, planning and logistics of the training and competition schedule, Wood will also supervise all technical support services and provide strategic advice in all aspects of program execution while collaborating with other National Ski Team coaches on daily program delivery.


Arild Monsen has been recruited from Molde, Norway to guide the Senior World Cup and Olympic Team. An accomplished athlete on the Norwegian National Team from 1982-1990, Monsen competed in three World Championships and was a wax technician for the Norwegians from 1993-97. An international technical delegate on the World Cup from 1997-2006, Monsen was chief of competition at the Norwegian National Championships and has coached Team Trondelag in Norway over the past two seasons. He has also enjoyed a number of successful World Cup results. Monsen will play a critical role in guiding Canada’s Senior World Cup team while in charge of all details in the day-to-day high-performance program within the field of play.


Eric de Nys will continue holding the coaching reigns as Development Team Coach. An accomplished skier hailing from British Columbia, de Nys joined Cross Country Canada in 2004. During his four-year reign in the national program, he has coached many Canadian athletes to significant jumps in performance while competing at the Haywood NorAm’s; Under-23 World Championships; and World Cup competitions. Similar to Monsen, de Nys will be responsible for all training and competition programs while fostering the development of Canada’s next generation of elite skiers.


“World-leading coaching, and a strong support team are core to ensuring Canada’s cross-country ski athletes will be ready to play their part in helping the Canadian team achieve excellence, and own the podium in 2010,” said Maddox during a media conference on the roof top of The Alberta Hotel Building in downtown Calgary, symbolizing Cross Country Canada’s objective of the refined support team to lead them to the podium. “Change is one of the most talked about aspects of sport, and in many cases one of the hardest things to actually introduce successfully.

Own the podium has afforded us the opportunity to make this change that we believe will create an environment our athletes need to succeed.”


Canada’s Para-Nordic Ski Team will also benefit from additional resources through a revamped support team. Kaspar Wirz, who has been the head coach since 1996, will also be promoted to the role of team leader. Wirz has led Canada’s Para-Nordic Ski Team to multiple podium performances at the last three Paralympics and four World Ski Championships.                                                      


Robin McKeever, who has racked up seven Paralympic medals as a guide for his brother Brian, will take over the role as technique coach. McKeever is a nine-time able-bodied Canadian Champion and a member of the 1998 Olympic Team.


Celine Feagan will advance into her second year as biathlon specialist with the Para-Nordic squad. Feagan has more than 13 years of coaching experience, ranging from the club level to high-performance in Alberta and British Columbia.  Feagan has worked with the Senior National Biathlon Team from 2004-2006 both as a coach and physiotherapist where she travelled to several IBU World Cups and Europa Cups.  These experiences have allowed her to work and learn from some of the best shooting coaches in the world, leaving her with a vast wealth of knowledge to impart on our athletes.


Each of the coaches on both the National Ski Team and Para-Nordic Ski Team will report to Tom Holland, Director of High-Performance. Holland, who has been part of the national program since 1988 as a volunteer and full-time with the team in 1996, will play a critical role in creating a coaching environment that is seamless and integrated.


Equally as important as the coaches is the increased capacity for technical support provided to both the National Ski Team and Para-Nordic Ski Team.


An extremely technical sport with multiple disciplines in variable conditions, Cross Country Canada will send seven technicians to support major events such as World Championships and Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, while up to four technicians will be on the World Cup tour, and one technical team member at each domestic event. Technicians will focus on constant ski testing and ski waxing.


Graham Maclean has been added as a full-time coordinator of technical services of the National Ski Team. While working with the entire technical support team, Maclean will be responsible for ski preparation at specified training camps and competitions, along with research development and technical readiness leading for 2010. Ian Daffern will continue his role as head wax technician for the Para-Nordic Team.


In addition to coaching and technical services, Canada’s Nordic athletes will also have full access to a leading Integrated Support Team consisting of sport science, health and sports psychology who will ensure the athletes are race ready.


Canada’s cross-country skiers will begin the competitive season with the new coaching and support team on both the World Cup and Haywood NorAm Series at the end of November.


Cross Country Canada is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada. Its 51,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams and Para-Nordic Ski Teams. Cross-country skiing is Canada’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually.

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