Wednesday, May 15, 2002 - Information
Podium 2010 Comments

By: Lorris Williams

I have followed with interest the Podium 2010 deliberations and have been impressed and encouraged by what has come out of them so far. I noted that the immediate work plan did not contain any suggestions for how the national program could help to effect the improvements identified. I thought it might be helpful if someone who is involved as a parent and club official made a few comments from that perspective. The suggestions are organized and identified as they relate to the list of improvements. The Podium recommendations are highlighted in red below, while my comments accompany each recommendation in black. Feel free to give feedback in the discussion board below.

1. Improve the image of the sport to make it more attractive to children/teenagers.

P.1 Hire a full time professional marketing person.

P.1 Try to run high level national and international competition in or near urban centers so that more spectators and media could be attracted to them.

P.1 Require organizers of competitions to have a chief of publicity just as they have a chief of course.

P.1 Make high quality publicity materials available to local organizers, including dynamic visuals in electronic form. (Not just head shots).

2. Increase the quality and number of athlete incentives (trips, recognition, finances).

P.2 Institute a graduated system for recognition by CCC of athletes’ achievements. This should start early, no later than the juvenile category. This could start with something as simple and cheap as a letter or a phone call from a national official, coach or even athlete. The next step might be some article of clothing, starting small and getting bigger. We might then move into non-subsidized camps then subsidized camps. Some other ideas might be visits by coaches or athletes to local clubs during which personal meetings with promising athletes could be conducted.

5. Better define the roles of club, division and national in developing athletes.

P.5 Publish and distribute an outline of what CCC sees as its role and engage in a dialogue with the clubs and divisions about that role.

6. Increase mentoring opportunities available to coaches, athletes and other leaders.

P.6 Sponsor camps or other training opportunities for club and division coaches.

P.6 Offer subsidized and convenient coach training for athletes at the national team and development team level.

P.6 Organize and support international coach and athlete exchanges to expose our athletes and coaches to new and different ideas.

7. Develop more "24 hour athletes" and increase the understanding of the concept.

P.7 Publish a clear outline of what this means. I have some concern with this recommendation for developing more “24 hour” athletes. I don’t really know what this means, but taken literally it seems to imply a focus on training and competing to the exclusion of all other areas of one’s life. I do not agree that that is a good objective especially in an endurance sport where athletes will not peak until their mid to late twenties and could remain at their physical peak well into their thirties. In these circumstances I think telling people that they must put all their efforts into their sport to the exclusion of career, family or other personal goals is likely to lead to them leaving the sport before they have even reached their potential or at the very least before they have exploited their potential to the fullest.

8. Instil the belief in more people that Canadians can be internationally successful in cross country ski racing.

P.8 Organize and support opportunities for club athletes and their supporters to meet our very successful national team athletes.

9. Identify, recruit and develop more passionate coaches /leaders.

P.9 See P.6 and P.8

10. Increase the funding at all levels of the athlete development system.

P.10 Institute a program to identify and pursue sponsorship opportunities for athletes at or near the national team level and help the athletes to pursue those opportunities.

P.10 Work together with other sport governing bodies to try to get federal and provincial governments to increase their level of support to amateur sport.

11. Ensure that athletes have sufficient, appropriate race opportunities at all levels.

P.11 Relax technical requirements about course profiles to encourage more races to take place.

12. Increase parents and athletes understanding and knowledge of the requirements of the competitive part of the sport and promote the support and opportunities that are available to assist the athlete pursue their dreams and improve the facilitation of athlete's personal development, in particular education and career objectives, in conjunction with the demands of high performance racing.

P.12 Work with clubs and divisions to provide opportunities for high-level training in locations where education and career opportunities exist.

P.12 Be open to and supportive of athletes who need to tailor their training to accommodate career or educational aspirations.

P.12 Actively pursue ski scholarship opportunities in the U.S for Canadian athletes. What could be sweeter than using American universities’ money to support our athletes as they mature into international caliber competitors?

P.12 Seek and accept feedback from athletes and their families about their needs and frustrations and attempt to accommodate those needs. Some athletes and families might need to be offered opportunities to comment anonymously.

13. Develop and publicize a Sport Science/Sport Medicine support model that outlines the requirements and importance for all levels.

P.13 This would appear to be something that CCC could best undertake.

14. Organize and run, an increased number of affordable training camps at the club and regional level.

P.14 This should also be extended to higher-level camps at the national level.

15. Develop a better race and support structure for 17-23 year old athletes that are just below the National team level.

P.15 see P.12, 10

P.15 Encourage and support the development of training centers or opportunities in areas where athletes are or want to be for personal, career or educational reasons.

P.15 Ensure that athletes know that their continued participation in the sport is desired and valued even if they are unwilling to train at a particular location or with a particular coach.

P.15 Extend as much support as possible to deserving athletes regardless of their choice of coach, program or training locale.

16. Increased skier recruitment.

P.16 Encourage National level athletes to visit schools or youth groups to promote the sport and talk about their experiences.

For more information on the Podium 2010 initiative, visit the Cross Country Canada web page.

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