Calgary, AB. (January 24, 2024) — Alpine Canada and its regional partners are pleased to announce the launch of Project Excel. Developed in collaboration with technical experts from across Canada in the alpine and ski disciplines, the program has a primary focus on accelerating and elevating Canada's U21 talent pool and supporting the coaches who work with these athletes with tools, resources and development opportunities. The ultimate goal is to develop more athletes who can reach the podium at the World Junior Ski Championships and are ready to compete with the best in the world at the World Cup, World Championships and Winter Olympic Games.
“I'm very excited about the potential impact that Project Excel will have on Canada's high-performance ecosystem,” said Jeff Thompson, Vice President of Domestic Sports Programs and Events at Alpine Canada. “We have come together as a country and put together concrete steps that we are confident can be implemented to support athletes who are close to, but not quite on.” The right level to join the Canadian National Ski Team.”
The Project Excel Working Group (members listed below) is made up of some of Canada's top technical sport leaders, who have come together on one mission and worked hard to produce excellent initiatives that should make impacts early this ski season.
Provincial input was key to the Project Excel working group and reflects the importance of Canadian Alpine sports organizations and provincial/territorial sports organizations (PTSOs) working together to maximize available funding. “Provinces do not, typically, have a hand in developing our best athletes beyond the provincial level, so this is a big change for us to work collaboratively with Alpine Canada in creating programs for this level of athletes,” said Patrick Biggs, CEO of Alpine Ontario.
The working group sought input from Canada's senior regional trainers who emphasized the importance of developing and adhering to the strategy. “We have made recommendations that we can all adhere to and follow. “We cannot change our strategy after a year or two because that undermines confidence in our entire development system,” said Josh Bing, Alberta Alpine Ski Association sports director.
This unprecedented collaboration between the ACA and PTSOs has resulted in a set of high-performance priorities, plans and projects guided by evidence-based platform pathways and gold medal profiles to ensure athletes have the right to: 1) coaching and technical leadership; 2) A daily training environment on and off the snow at its best with the best training kits; 3) Appropriate competitive experiences at the right time. and 4) supporting performance science.
“Canadians need access to high-quality, well-attended Canadian events where anyone who skis well has the opportunity to register. We can schedule events better, execute them at a higher quality, and make them more worthwhile for the best to attend,” said Johnny Crichton, Vice President of British Columbia Alpine. “Build it and they will come.” The next step will be the FIS National Series.
There is a strong awareness of the need to take action as soon as possible. “We are moving quickly to implement these initiatives as the next group of potential World Cup skiers are looking for guidance and need our support,” says Eric Prefontaine, Head Coach, Mont-Tremblant Ski Club (former High Performance Director, Ski Quebec Alpin).
Some immediate action steps include:
- We strive to become the fittest skiing nation, have national consensus on a fitness measurement protocol, and set target performance markers for each age group.
- Reviewing the format of our races for the U14 and U16 age groups in an attempt to make better use of the competition to develop our ski racers. A trial of a new system will begin in the 2023/24 season, with the results analyzed.
- Providing purposefully planned FIS events at a time of year and location that allows Canadians to access our best local talent and creates meaningful opportunities to help our best up and coming athletes lower their FIS profiles.
- Creating a sustainable business model that will support our best athletes, who are on the podium but outside the national team criteria, by bringing them together in a full-time programme.
- To learn more about the Project Excel 2023/24 work plan, please refer to the website (link).
Excel Project Working Group
Dave Ellis, High Performance Director, Ski Cross, Alpine Canada
*Eric Prefontaine, High Performance Director, Ski Quebec Alpin
Frances Royal, Women's CAST Lead Coach, Canadian Alpine
Jean-François (JF) Rabatel, High Performance Director, Alpine Canada
Jeff Thompson, Vice President, Domestic Sports Programs and Events, Alpine Canada
Jenny Stillo, Excel Performance Track Manager and Performance Data Analyst, Alpine Canada
Johnny Crichton, Vice President, British Columbia Alpine
Josh Bing, Sports Director, Alberta Alpine Skiing Association
Patrick Biggs, Executive Director, Alpine Ontario
(*Eric left the working group to become head coach of the Mont-Tremblant Ski Club. Martin Durocher, High Performance Director, Ski Quebec Alpin, replaced Eric in the working group)
About the Alps in Canada
Alpine Canada is the governing body for alpine, para-alpine and ski cross racing in Canada, as well as Canadian ski instructors, providing education, certification, insurance and compliance with the Coaching Code of Conduct. With the support of corporate partners and donors, along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Coaching Association, Alpine Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic, World Championship and World Cup athletes to stimulate emergence. And inspiration and growth in the skateboarding community.
For more information or media inquiries, please contact:
Mark Halliday [email protected]