Tag Archives: Sochi 2014

image2Over the past 10 years, numerous Canadian snow sport athletes have cemented themselves in sporting history. In celebration of the 148th birthday of Canada, we took a look back at historical moments and performances that have asserted Canada’s international dominance in snow sports and have helped define our nation.

1. Family first – Alexandre Bilodeau (Freestyle Skiing) –2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics: After Canada failed to win a gold medal when it hosted the Olympics in Montreal 1976 and Calgary 1988, the country was eager to see who would end that drought in Vancouver. On the second day of competition, Alexandre Bilodeau provided the breakthrough and secured Canada’s first Olympic medal on home soil. But it wasn’t just about the gold medal, as Bilodeau celebrated by embracing his brother Frederic, who is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. The 2010 Olympic Champion went on to defend his gold medal in men’s moguls at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, finishing just ahead of teammate Mikael Kingsbury who won the silver. Once again, Bilodeau reacted the same way as he did 4 years prior, by dedicating his medal to Fredric, calling him his hero and biggest inspiration

2. The golden sister act – Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (Freestyle Skiing) –2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: The only thing that could possibly be better than winning a gold medal is winning a gold medal and standing on the podium with a sibling who has shared the same journey as you. No one will forget the unbelievable and intense day of competition for ladies’ moguls, when the Dufour-Lapointe sisters took their sports on the podium holding hands. History was made when Justine took hom the gold and Chloe secured the silver medal in women’s moguls at Sochi 2014.

3. Uncorking the potential of snowboarding – Mark McMorris (Snowboarding) – 2012 X-Games in Aspen Colorado: At the young age of 18, Mark McMorris shocked the snow sport world by throwing down the first-ever backside triple cork 1440 in X-Games competition history. Not only did Mark change the gold-standard for Big Air competition as we know it today, but his larger-than-life performances at the 2012 X-Games led to a double gold in big air and men’s slopestyle…need we say more.

4. Sarah Burke lives on forever – Debut of women’s Super-Pipe skiing at the Olympics (Freestyle Skiing) – 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: As one of the world’s top freestyle skiers, Sarah Burke was a four-time Winter X-Games gold medalist in superpipe. Sarah led the efforts to get the women’s X-Games sport into the Olympics but died in a January 2012 training accident before she could see her dream realized. However, Sarah’s legacy lived on as she had successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee to add women’s superpipe to the Olympic program for the 2014 Winter Olympics. During the 2014 Winter Olympics, Trennon Payner, the Canadian freestyle ski coach, payed tribute to Sarah by speading some of her ashes on the halfpipe course prior to the inaugural women’s superpipe event. In essence, the efforts of Sarah Burke were influential to the Olympic movement and the 2014 Sochi Olympics solidified Sarah’s legacy living on forever.

5. A golden dream – Maelle Ricker (Snowboarding) – 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics: Maelle Ricker etched her way into the history books and inspired women all across the nation by becoming the first Canadian woman to win Olympic gold on home soil at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Maelle won her gold medal in ladies snowboard cross and as a North Vancouver native had the opportunity to make history just minutes away from her childhood home – a true dream come true.

6. Igniting the mogul movement – Jennifer Heil (Freestyle Skiing) – 2006 Torino Winter Olympics: Heil’s greatest accomplishment in freestyle skiing was her gold medal victory in the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. After narrowly missing the podium as an 18-year-old rookie in the 2002 Olympics, Heil blew away the competition in 2006. After finishing first in the qualifying run, Heil posted a score of 26.50 in the final run, 0.85 better than defending Olympic gold medallist, Kari Traa to take the gold medal. Not only was this Heil’s first ever Olympic medal, it was also the first ever Olympic medal for Canada in women’s moguls and the first medal for Canada in the 2006 Olympic Games.

7. The king is crowned – Mikael Kingsbury (Freestyle Skiing) – 2014/2015 Season: Mikael Kingsbury had a historic 2014/2015 season by winning his fourth consecutive crystal globe as the overall season points leader. Along the way, the King also tied the record for world cup wins with his 28th, and broke his own record for consecutive world cup wins in a season with 7. Oh and in case you forgot, Mikael also won a silver medal at Sochi, placing just behind teammate Alexandre Bilodeau – but at the young age of 22, Kingsbury is just getting started.

8. Can you do the 1-2 step? – Marielle Thompson & Kelsey Serwa – 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: If it hasn’t been made clear up until this point, Canada is pretty good at freestyle skiing. In addition to the Alexandre Bilodeau/Mikael Kingsbury and Dufour-Lapointe sisters 1st and 2nd place finishes in men’s and women’s moguls, Canada showed that their freestyle skiing game was not restricted to moguls alone.  The ladies ski cross duo of Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa completed the 3rd 1-2 finish for Canadian freestyle skiing at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, with Thompson winning gold and Serwa capturing silver. These ski cross medals contributed to a late surge in the Canadian medal count and solidified Canada’s dominance of the freestyle events at the Sochi Olympics (which resulted in four golds, four silvers and a bronze, while generating three 1-2 finishes).

9. Age is just a number – Dara Howell (Freestyle Skiing) –2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: At the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Dara Howell proved that age is just a number by taking home the gold medal in the inaugural women’s slopestyle event. In a dazzling display of substance and style, the Huntsville, Ontario native showed that her future is very promising and despite being only 19 years old, she can put on a world class performance.

10. Jumping into the history books – Taylor Henrich (Ski Jumping) – 2014/2015 Season: At only 18 years of age, Taylor Henrich already has a spot in women’s Olympic ski jumping history by taking the first run of the inaugural ski jumping event at the 2014 Sochi games, becoming one of the first women to compete in the sport at that level. Taylor Henrich continued to lead the charge for Canadian ski jumping by becoming the first Canadian woman to capture a World Cup ski jumping medal when she placed third earlier on the World Cup circuit on January 23, 2015. Additionally, Taylor`s fifth place finish was the highest ever for a female Canadian ski jumper at the World Championships.

This past year has been monumental for Mikaël Kingsbury. Some of his most outstanding accomplishments included a gold and silver medal at the World Championships, two Crystal Globes and seven straight World Cup wins.

In the most impressive season of his young career, Kingsbury has been presented with the Male Athlete of the Year Award by the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. This award goes out to the best Canadian male freestyle skier of the 2014-2015 season.

“It’s a big honour for me,” said Kingsbury. “We have the best freestyle skiing team in the world. I look up to many of those athletes on our team too. It’s a great feeling. It motivates me to do more.”

After a disappointing start to the World Cup circuit with a ninth place finish in Ruka, Finland, Kingsbury bounced back with an amazing run of seven consecutive World Cup victories.

“I told myself to stop focusing on the result and to start focusing on myself,” Kingsbury explained. “I have the ability to win all the time. From there I just tried to ski the best I possibly can and managed to win seven World Cups in a row. I felt at some point the confidence and I knew I could do it. It was pretty special.”

The 22 year-old out of Deux-Montagnes, Quebec began his win streak on home soil at a World Cup event in Calgary, Alberta. From there, he was untouchable to his competition, leading to both the Crystal Globe award for men’s moguls and the overall Crystal Globe for all men’s freestyle skiing.

“It took off a lot of pressure winning in Calgary. I like the course there. I went into Deer Valley on a high and ended up winning there to reclaim the yellow bib. I never wanted to let it go after that. It was an awesome feeling to be back on top and to aim for the Crystal Globe. To me it’s like the Stanley Cup. Winning the Crystal Globe was a big goal of mine.”

On top of all these accomplishments, Kingsbury also won the World Title in dual moguls and earned silver in the mogul competition at the World Championships in Kreischberg, Austria. His seven straight World Cup victories broke the record originally set by American Jeremy Bloom set in 2005. Kingsbury had tied the streak once before during the 2011-2012 season

“Jeremy Bloom was an amazing athlete. He was one of my idols when I was growing up,” said Kingsbury. “I used to watch him at a young age and actually remember when he got the record. I always thought it was one of the hardest records to achieve. The thought of him winning six in a row is crazy. To be able to tie it a couple years ago and now break it was an honour.”

The seventh consecutive win also marked Kingsbury’s 28th career World Cup victory, which tied the record held by French skier, Edgar Grospiron. While tying this record was a huge accomplishment, Kingsbury is determined to be the sole record holder by next season.

“For this summer I’m motivated by the all-time wins record. I know I just need one more World Cup victory. Edgar Grospiron was also an idol of mine. That’s a record I never thought I’d be at.”

In the long term, Kingsbury has his sights set on Olympic gold. While this is a major goal of his, he will take things one step at a time, continuing to work on his individual skills. Despite being the best mogul skier of the World circuit right now, he is not satisfied yet and will push himself even harder over the next few years.

“I’m just going to take things one year at a time, but I would like to improve on what I did in Sochi. I’m going to train hard and be ready. I’m still young and I still have a lot more to do in my career.”

Sochi 2014 Canadian Olympic Biathlon team announced

A determined group of eight Canadian biathletes will head to Sochi poised to capture the world’s attention and climb onto the podium at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

Four men and four women will wear the Maple Leaf on the start line of the biathlon competitions in Sochi. Three-time Olympians, Jean-Philippe Le Guellec (Shannon, Que.) and Zina Kocher (Red Deer, Alta.), will lead an experienced contingent of Canadian biathletes. Le Guellec, who has rewritten the Canadian history books since putting together a memorable run at Vancouver 2010 with four, top-15 finishes, will lead the men’s squad. Le Guellec became the first Canadian male ever to win a World Cup biathlon event last year. Kocher, who is the only Canadian woman since Myriam Bédard to win a World Cup biathlon medal, headlines a trio of Canadian women who all made their Olympic debut in 2010. The Canadian women’s contingent is coming off a historic fourth-place finish in a World Cup team relay prior to the holiday break.

JP Le Guellec“This group of athletes may be the most underrated team in Canadian Olympic sport, but we are fiercely driven to capitalize on our position of flying under the radar and make some noise in Sochi,” said Chris Lindsay, high-performance director, Biathlon Canada. “For the first time ever we are naming a full team of athletes that nearly all have Olympic experience, and that is a significant competitive advantage in fielding a biathlon team that is ready to legitimately challenge for the Olympic podium for the first time in nearly two decades.”

Joining Kocher in the women’s troops will be Olympians Rosanna Crawford (Canmore, Alta.), who has been posting the team’s top results this year; Megan Imrie (Falcon Lake, Man.), who has rattled off a series of personal best performances prior to Christmas; and Megan Heinicke (Prince George, B.C.).

Le Guellec will be joined by 2010 Olympic teammate Brendan Green (Hay River, N.W.T.); along with first-time Olympians, Scott Perras (Regina, Sask.) and Nathan Smith (Calgary, Alta.). All four Canadian men have celebrated unprecedented top-10 results on the World Cup.

“Depth is critical to mounting an attack on the medals, and each athlete on this team has knocked on the door of the World Cup podium,” said Le Guellec. “This is a young but experienced group of athletes that believes if we are firing on all cylinders – anything is possible every time we put on the skis.”

Joined by COC mascot, Komak, each of the athletes received their Olympic jackets while thousands of Canadians were active during the holidays trying their hand at biathlon, alpine and cross-country skiing at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. Each of the athletes skied through an honour guard of young Canadian biathletes while arriving to the stage with the 1988 Olympic cauldron towering above.

“Congratulations to our newly-named Biathletes nominated to represent Canada in Sochi,” added Marcel Aubut, President, Canadian Olympic Committee. “This is a group of hard-working and talented individuals who are eager to put Canada on the map in the sport of Biathlon. Our goal in Sochi is to contend for the top spot in overall medals won, and I have full confidence that these athletes will help us reach that goal.”

The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games will take place from February 7-23, 2014. The Canadian Olympic Team has set a goal to contend for the top spot in overall medals won.

“Congratulations to the biathlon athletes named today to represent Canada at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi,” said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I wish all these athletes the very best of success as they prepare for this incredible milestone in their sport careers. All of Canada will be cheering for you and your Olympic teammates this February.”

List of Biathletes nominated to the Sochi 2014 Canadian Olympic Team:

Women:

  • Megan Heinicke Prince George, BC
  • Megan Imrie Falcon Lake, MB
  • Rosanna Crawford Canmore, AB
  • Zina Kocher Red Deer, AB

Men:

  • Brendan Green Hay River, NWT
  • Jean-Philippe Le Guellec Shannon, QC
  • Nathan Smith Calgary, AB
  • Scott Perras Regina, SK

A richly talented speed skier who is famed for his fun-loving, larger-than-life personality, ‘Manny’ has three World Cup wins to his name – including his famous victory in Lake Louise, Alta., in 2009. The North Vancouver, B.C., native, who grew up skiing in Whistler, B.C., but lives and trains in Calgary, Alta., enjoyed a superb comeback season in 2012-13, narrowly missing a podium in downhill in Kvitfjell, Norway, and claiming the Canadian downhill title. Away from the ski hill Osborne-Paradis is known for his community work, which includes running an annual ski camp for kids with teammate Mike Janyk in Whistler. He’s also an avid golfer.

For Manny’s full bio visit http://www.alpinecanada.org/athlete/osborne-paradis

Three Canadian men’s alpine skiers nominated to Sochi 2014 Olympic team

The Canadian Olympic Committee welcomes three “Canadian Cowboys” onto the Canadian Olympic Team, as they head to Sochi poised to end a 20-year medal drought for Canada on Olympic soil.

Canadian Alpine skier Manuel Osborne-Paradis

These three athletes will compete against the world’s best as Canada’s representatives in downhill and super-G, carrying some momentum forward from a positive start to the 2013-14 World Cup season. Two-time Olympian, who now holds a Canadian-best 21 career World Cup podium finishes, Erik Guay (Mont-Tremblant, QC) will lead this year’s team into Sochi. He will be joined by two-time Olympian, Manuel Osborne-Paradis (Vancouver, BC) who is also hoping to find Olympic podium success. The trio will also include Vancouver 2010 Olympian, Jan Hudec (Calgary, AB), a World Cup winner and world championship medallist.

“Any time you have the opportunity to represent your country it’s a great honour and privilege,” said Osborne-Paradis. “It’s about putting all your cards on the table on the day of the race and hopefully you get some hardware. Right now we have three guys who have the chance to do that for the Canadian Cowboys. That’s what inspires kids to become champions and work their way up through the system – an Olympic medal would just really top it off.”

Wednesday’s announcement was attended by Lake Placid 1980 Olympic bronze medallist and Canada’s Chef de Mission for Sochi 2014, Steve Podborski; and Ed Podivinsky who earned an Olympic bronze medal at Lillehammer 1994, and is the last Canadian alpine skier to medal at an Olympic Games.

“What a great honour it is to represent Canada at the Olympic Games. I understand and appreciate the dedication and commitment that Erik, Jan and Manuel have for their sport and country,” said Marcel Aubut, President, Canadian Olympic Committee. “There is something truly special about this group of skiers and I look forward to seeing them perform at their highest level in Sochi.”

“Congratulations to our male alpine skiers, who will make us proud in Sochi,” added Costas Menegakis, Member of Parliament, (Richmond Hill). “Your breathtaking speed will captivate Canadians as they cheer for you from every corner of our country. Good luck as you prepare to excel on the slopes in just a few weeks.”

The qualification window for Canadian male and female alpine skiers remains open until Jan. 26, so more men’s team racers could yet join Guay, Osborne-Paradis and Hudec in being nominated to the Canadian Olympic Team. The Canadian men’s speed team is due to leave for Europe Wednesday to compete in several more World Cups prior to the start of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games will take place from February 7-23, 2014. The Canadian Olympic Team has set a goal to contend for the top spot in overall medals won.

List of male alpine skiers nominated to the Sochi 2014 Canadian Olympic Team:

  • Erik Guay, Mont-Tremblant, Que.
  • Jan Hudec, Calgary, Alta.
  • Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Vancouver, B.C.

GO WHERE THE PROS GO

Canada’s national team athletes and experts tell you where they love to ski

This issue: Former Canadian Freestyle Ski Association CEO Peter Judge on Sunshine Village

Peter Judge

As a member of Canada’s Ski Hall of Fame and a pioneer of freestyle skiing, Peter Judge has visited and skied on a lot of mountains, including World Cup venues internationally. In his 40-year career he has enjoyed success as a medal-winning athlete, head coach of the Canadian Freestyle team, coach in the USA, Australia and China and former CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. Judge is credited with pushing freestyle disciplines from the fringes to the Olympic level, and for the competitive success of Canada’s freestyle skiers. He has guided Canadian freestyle skiers to a total of 10 Olympic, 69 World Championship and more than 1,000 World Cup medals.

“I lived in Whistler 18 years, which is a great area to be from if you’re into skiing. There are many places globally with totally different feels, from North America to South America, Europe to Asia. In France, I love Tignes and Val d’Isère – there’s lots of terrain, good fun and good food. And there’s very challenging, significant skiing in Sochi, where we’ll of course be for the Olympic Games in February 2014,” says Judge.

But you never forget your firsts, and since Judge grew up in Calgary, he learned to ski in the Rocky Mountains. So when asked which mountain is his favourite and why, he quickly responds, “Sunshine Village will always be dear to my heart, because growing up in the Rockies as I did, it’s there that I found my love of skiing.”

In Judge’s opinion, there are a number of unique, great things about Sunshine Village. When asked why he’d recommend it to others, he says “First and foremost, go for the snow – both the quantity and the quality of it. There’s so much great snow there both early and late in the ski season – many years it’s possible to ski well into June! I think that the variability of terrain is also a significant draw. I first skied Delirium Dive when I was 13 and was inevitably hooked! Whether you are just starting out, skiing as a family, or looking for some serious steep and deep, Sunshine has it all.”

Quick Facts about Sunshine Village:
  • Located about 90 minutes from Calgary and just 15 minutes from Banff, on the Continental Divide. You can ski in both BC and Alberta in the same day… in fact in the same run!
  • 3 separate mountain faces to ski
  • 3,300 acres of skiable terrain – 20% beginner, 55% intermediate and 25% expert run
  • Everything from family-friendly beginner runs to the most extreme big mountain runs. Delirium Dive has been named one of the 10 top off-piste destinations in the world
  • 12 chairlifts and a high-speed gondola
  • Village altitude of 7,082 feet, resulting in big snowfalls and good dry snow conditions all year
  • And particularly fitting, given Judge’s role in getting events like slopestyle skiing and snowboarding accepted as new Olympic events for the Sochi Olympics in 2014, a massive 12-acre terrain park with 50 obstacles, and a newly opened beginner park for those who want to learn how to do the jumps and tricks

 

Winter sports are part of Canadians’ DNA. When the snow starts to fall each winter, nearly 5.5 million of us take to the hills to pursue activities like downhill skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing.

Canadians excel at these sports internationally too. We love to watch our best nordic, alpine and freestyle athletes compete, particularly during Olympic years when they make us proud on the podium. Always a winter sports nation, Canada has enjoyed increasing success at the Winter Olympic Games, culminating in our best ever performance at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, where our athletes won a best-ever 26 medals on home soil.


“Canadian athletes are in the hunt for gold, and there’s a lot of emotion and excitement attached to that. But training for their sports is these athletes’ careers. They do it day in, day out with very little attention. They wouldn’t be here if we didn’t support them outside Olympic years.”


Inspired by this success, young Canadian athletes join ski clubs all over the country that are the training ground for Canada’s national teams. There are approximately 93,000 registered members of Canada’s seven national snow sports organizations: Alpine Canada, Biathlon Canada, Canada Snowboard, Cross Country Ski Canada, Freestyle Canada, Nordic Combined Canada and Ski Jumping Canada.

Each of these organizations has invested in a wealth of expertise and resources to help its athletes achieve their best possible level of performance. “There’s a very technical focus,” says Davin McIntosh, executive director of Cross Country Canada. “National team athletes don’t just have a coach, they have a whole integrated support team of experts in physiology, medicine, bio-mechanics, nutrition, psychology – you name it.”

Alex Harvey and Canadian cross country ski team training

Now, they are reaching out to share this expertise with recreational snow sport participants, hoping to ensure safety, awareness and growing participation in each of their sports. To do so, they’ve formed a partnership called Snow Sports Canada.

“There’s a lot of money invested in research and development for Canada’s high performance athletes, and it seems a shame not to share it,” says Bill Cooper, partner at the Twentyten Group, a marketing and sponsorship agency working closely with Snow Sports Canada. “We think there’s an appetite among Canadians for fitness and nutrition advice, equipment tips and other ideas to help them get the most out of their snow sports experiences.”

Asked what led to this collaboration, McIntosh explains, “There are a lot of ties between our sports. Many families who downhill ski also enjoy cross country. They might be interested in watching a biathlon race or trying something new themselves. We have a supportive, enthusiastic cross country community, but we also have a lot to gain by reaching out to a broader group.”

The eyes of millions of Canadians will be on Canada’s national team athletes when they compete in Sochi this February, but in fact they need our support outside Olympic years. “Any time we have an Olympics, it’s a rallying point for our sports,” says McIntosh. “Canadian athletes are in the hunt for gold, and there’s a lot of emotion and excitement attached to that. But training for their sports is these athletes’ careers. They do it day in, day out with very little attention. They wouldn’t be here if we didn’t support them outside Olympic years.”

Snow Sports Canada and its seven partners hope that by sharing their expertise with Canada’s recreational snow sport participants, they can create a valuable asset that will attract sponsorship that can be invested in this athlete support.

“Snowsportscanada.ca will provide tips gathered from experts and athletes. We hope Canadians will get on board and help us steer the ship going forward, by telling us what kind of information they’re most interested in,” says Cooper.