MONT-SAINTE-ANNE, QUE. (Jan. 23, 2013) — The first official member of the Canadian Cowboys to hang up his skis will spend this week working with young up-and-coming racers as a cutting edge initiative that aims to build the next generation of World Cup and Olympic downhill champions enters its second year.
François Bourque, from L’Ange Gardien, Que., headlines a star-studded list of ski team alumni and veteran coaches who will help run five camps across Canada as part of the second phase of the ‘Osisko Going4Gold Program,’ which was launched last winter to teach young racers the skills of downhill racing in a safe, methodical way.
Bourque, a two-time world junior championship gold medallist who claimed four World Cup podiums in super-G and giant slalom and finished fourth at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, will be front and centre at the Quebec camp, which is being held Wednesday to Friday in Mont-Sainte-Anne. Other camps featuring former racers and coaches including Rob Boyd, Kerrin Lee-Gartner, Jeff Hume, Stan Rey, Brian Bennett and Don Lyon will be held in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick over the next month.
“It’s cool to do this. I’m pretty pumped to work with the kids,” said Bourque, who quietly retired last year and has recently been doing some coaching Université Laval. “It’s about teaching (kids) the base you need if you want to make it to the World Cup level. When you have people you can look up to and learn from it’s a pretty big advantage.”
The camps, run in conjunction with provincial sport organizations and other ski partners, aim to develop athletes’ technical, tactical, physical and psychological skills. Some of the practical skills that are taught as a progression over three days at each camp include skating, glide turning, reading and working terrain, jumps, rollers and banked turns, tucking and aerodynamics and stopping.
This year’s camps will introduce elements of ski cross for the first time to teach new skills that can translate over to the alpine speed disciplines.
“The Osisko Going4Gold Camps are all about developing confidence and skills at speed, in the air and over various terrain,” said Nigel Cooper, Alpine Canada’s manager of athlete development. “It’s an opportunity for kids, coaches and experts from our sport to come together with national ski team legends to do something extraordinary and build on our rich history of success in downhill, super-G and ski cross.”
The Canadian Cowboys – the title bestowed upon the modern generation of Canadian ski racers who earn podiums at World Cup, world championship or Olympic alpine events – are enjoying great success in the speed disciplines. There are six active Canadian Cowboys and five of them – Erik Guay, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., Manuel Osborne-Paradis, of Vancouver, B.C., John Kucera, of Calgary, Alta., Ben Thomsen, of Invermere, B.C., and Calgary’s Jan Hudec – compete in downhill and super-G. In a few weeks they will attempt to defend the world downhill championship title that Canada has claimed at back-to-back events, with Guay winning the title in 2011 after Kucera first claimed it in 2009. Prior to that Hudec also won silver in downhill at the 2007 world championships. Paul Kristofic, Alpine Canada’s vice-president of sport, said skill development is essential to ensure that Canada’s next generation of ski racers are equipped to compete with the best in the world.
“The camps give young racers their first taste of speed events in a positive and safe environment,” Kristofic said. “Those taking part will be better prepared early on, and they will have more tools to deal with speed-related elements and more confidence when they start racing speed. The key piece for me is skill development in speed.”
2013 Osisko Going4Gold camps
Jan. 23-25: Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que.
Feb. 1-3: Apex Mountain Resort, B.C.
Feb. 1-3: Nakiska, Alta.
Feb. 4-6: Crabbe Mountain, N.B.
Feb. 22-24: Asessippi, Man.
CONTACT: For more information about the camps, visit http://www.alpinecanada.org/events/osisko-going4gold-program or contact Nigel Cooper – firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT ALPINE CANADA ALPIN: Alpine Canada Alpin is the national governing body for alpine, para-alpine and ski cross racing in Canada. With the support of valued corporate partners along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee, Alpine Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic, world championship and World Cup medallists to stimulate visibility, inspiration and growth in the ski community.
ABOUT OSISKO MINING CORPORATION: Osisko Mining Corporation, based in Montreal, Que., is a company focused on acquiring, exploring, developing and mining gold properties, with the aim of becoming a mid-tier gold producer. Its flagship project is the Canadian Malartic gold mine in the Abitibi mining district, which represents the single biggest gold reserve in production in Canada with proven and probable reserves of 10.7 million ounces of gold. Osisko is included on the S&P/TSX Composite Index, the leading indicator of market performance based on Canada’s major corporations.
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