“I went for a long walk and looked for signs of destiny in the sky- but there were no signs, only snowflakes. So I listened to my heart, and my heart said it was time to go.”

This year, amidst some serious career highlights I began to re-evaluate my priorities. I thought long and hard about what it takes to do this job well. What the personal cost of continuing to live like this would be, and what it would mean for me to leave this job. I knew that for me, walking away from this meant walking away from a dream I’ve fought a long time for. It would mean walking away from a huge part of who I am. I took my time wrestling the beast.

In 2010 I decided to devote my career towards becoming one of the top coaches in Canada. I wanted to be a coach who helped push Canadian athletes to the highest level of International success. I’d been coaching for a few years, was done my undergrad, and felt incredibly inspired by the Vancouver Olympics

The life decisions I made from that point on were focused around 2 factors;

1-Will this make me a better coach?

2-Will this get me closer to my goal?

People used phrases like ‘work life balance’ around me. But I wasn’t going after a balanced lifestyle, I was going for professional excellence. People raised their eyebrows when I left good jobs. But I knew I would have to leave jobs and move around to get the experience I needed to grow. People said I would never be a training center coach. I never let if affect me because I knew, unequivocally, that only I decide what I am, or am not capable of.

Maybe it was a reckless way to live, but I was trying to do something I’d never seen anyone do before. I had to find my own path.

I relate to athletes through my own experience. I hold them to the same high standards as I hold myself. I call a spade a spade. I see the familiar hunger for excellence in their eyes. Neither of our journeys are easy, but at least we push the inches together. Working alongside athletes towards a mutual goals has made this job more rewarding than I can express.

The opportunity to coach with the Alberta World Cup Academy was another step in my bid to becoming one of the top coaches in Canada. It gave me the chance to work directly with the top talent in our country, to finally have a team of my own to dig into. And boy did we dig in.

Chris Jeffries created a work environment of collaboration and mutual respect. Together we pushed to make sure we had a team that was happy, healthy, and fast. I am so proud of what we accomplished this year. We stuck to our fundamental principles through some tough times and in the end did right by our team as athletes, but more importantly as individuals. I cannot say enough good things about working with Chris.

I came into the job at AWCA with a lot of expectations and perceptions. What I learned was that in this job we fight tooth and nail for gains. The degrees that separate our athletes from their goals are small, sometimes literally only fractions of seconds. At this level those milliseconds represent hundreds of hours of work. It’s literally blood, sweat, and tears. As a coach you mirror the effort and commitment your athletes put in, and when they can’t give any more you squeeze a little more out of yourself.

The word I’d use to describe this job is humbling. A huge amount of work goes into keeping a training center open, viable, full of successful athletes today, with an eye on the development of athletes tomorrow.

In the end I went for a walk in the only February snowstorm Canmore had. I looked for signs of destiny in the sky but there were no signs, only snowflakes. So I listened to my heart, and my heart said it was time to go.

I have spent ten amazing years coaching. I’ve watched kids win, and lose and best of all watched them grow. I’ve been surrounded by people who are full of life, passion and drive. I have received as much as I’ve given in this job, and that has been a tremendous amount. I have no idea what’s in store for me next- except for two things, I’ll be back in Whitehorse and I’ll be kicking ass at something else.

Thank you for all the highlights- for the open doors, open minds, hug hearts, big hugs, and big smiles. It has been such a pleasure. PavOut


The Challenge.

Last year I sat down with a pack of athletes from across Canada and asked them to tell me the biggest dream of their lives. What struck me about that day was how powerful it was to hear so many vocalize what until then had only been a secret wish.

Vocalizing your dreams takes courage. There’s a fear that in hearing a dream out loud it will sound ridiculous. There’s a fear that others may misunderstand, make fun of, or worst of all- not believe in your dreams.

But some things need to be said.

I have a big dream. One day I would like the people of Canada to be perched on the edge of their seats, watching a ski race they missed work, or a day of school for. One day I would like to see Canadians holding their collective breath as a pack of skiers emerge over the last climb. In the final gasping push I would like Canadians to see not just one maple emerge from the pack, but a storm of red maples capturing medals.

The way our sport is currently operating in this country does not support this goal.

This year we posted the worst cross-country Olympic performance since 1998. That was followed by an athlete announcing changes to staffing on the national team, four weeks before CCC generated a press release. We’ve had a president resign, a training centre lose its national designation, and we have a World Cup team without any women.

I lay these issues out not to point blame. I don’t believe any one person or organization is responsible for where we are now. I think we as a community are responsible. This is our challenge.

Everyone; from athletes, club coaches, and peoples who’s salary is somehow tied to CCC know that our sport is facing serious problems. Instead of solution building, all we seem to do is complain about how everyone else is the problem.

The war of distrust and animosity between coaches, clubs, and CCC in this country is having an effect on athletes.

I am tired of watching us celebrate each other’s failures. We fight over athletes, scrap over funds and trip over our own egos in the process. Right now a lot of people are sitting in the sandbox crying that no one else is willing to play along- or worse- we’re trying to build a new, better sandbox to play in alone. It’s not working. This environment is toxic and it’s costing us all.

If we continue to wait for someone to solve our problems nothing will change.

I believe we have athletes right now in Canada with the potential to take podiums at World Cups and Olympics. I believe that collectively the coaches in Canada can create and support a system that will get them there.

I’m committing to being a coach dedicated to positive change in our country.

  • I promise that if I have a problem with the way something or someone is operating I will address my concern directly and with respect.
  • For every issue I raise I will bring forward a solution.
  • I promise that when someone brings feedback and concerns to me I will listen. I will check my ego at the door and listen to the feedback.
  • When I hear of a co-worker who needs help I will support them.
  • I recognize that the failure of co-workers, of athletes, the failure of our system, is a failure on my part.

It’s my hope that colleagues across the country will join me in taking more accountability for the success of our sport moving forward. Maybe we can all think twice about the way we discuss problems. Maybe we can move forward as a community that shares each other’s success. And maybe someday we’ll all be left speechless by what our Canadian skiers can do.

That’s the challenge.

The thing about big life altering decisions is that don’t realize you’ve made them until you’re staring out from the crater pit your life has become thinking…’what the eff?’

Two months ago I decided to quit my job and move back home. The decision to step away from my job at CCO was never meant to be a move away from coaching. In fact, it was motivated by exactly opposite reasons. As a Provincial coach I rarely had opportunities to work with athletes in a direct, consistent manner. I was always fighting for more opportunities to do so. In the end it wasn’t a place that was going to allow me to grow into the coach I want to be.

So here I am at 28, living with my mom, cobbling together enough part-time work to afford volunteer coaching three senior athletes. On bad days it feels like my career, the place where all my passion is- is just an empty pit. What happened? But everyday I watch the Air North flight take off above my house and everyday I’m happy I’m not on it. Even on the bad days.

People sometimes think you need to be an ex-World Cup athlete to be a great coach. I disagree. The most important trait of a great coach is to understand excellence and the drive it takes to achieve that. It’s not a casual whim, it’s an innate need, a disgust of mediocrity, a strong conviction that you are capable of more than anyone will imagine.

Knute, Colin and Kendra are all proving to be challenging athletes, each in their own way.

Writing a program for Kendra exemplifies the challenges of working with Senior Women in our country. Kendra is an extremely talented Canadian athlete. She’s also pursuing school, working to pay for school and interested in engaging in extracurricular activities. A lot of people would say working with her is a waste of time. Maybe. But it’s not as if Canada has a  great track record right now when it comes to producing competitive female skiers who stick around our system. If Canada wants to retain female athletes at the senior level we’re all going to have to learn how accommodate a person’s life outside of training. So that’s what we’re doing.

Knute and Colin pose their own challenge. For one, I’ve never worked with athletes as strong and fit as they are. It’s a mental adjustment for me to figure out what they’re capable of, both in terms of training sets and in terms of technical execution. When I imagine they’d be exploding from effort they’re pushing lactates of 6 [nbd]. When I think they can’t move any faster they kick into a sprint. But they do need coaching, and what I’m learning is when and where senior athletes need support.

So that’s where things are at right now. It’s a bit rough. I feel like I’ve fallen off the face of the earth, and that I’ll never get the chance to formally coach a team of Junior and Senior athletes. But I continue to believe in excellence, and as of yet- I’m still not ready to settle for mediocrity.


Change implies unanticipated challenges. I used to think I didn’t like it. Things change I guess.

2013/2014 was my favorite season yet. I spent more time than ever before working trailside with athletes in training and competition. I finally met Petter Northug. Best of all I watched Ontario climb from 4th place at Nationals [1,295 points behind 1st] to 2nd place this year, only 57 points behind 1st.

This season was full of new, unanticipated challenges. I spent over 6 consecutive months coaching on the road. I lived on couches, in mop cupboards, and in a tent. I visited 13 countries in 365 days. I came up against things I could never have anticipated, a trip to Norway that started with no snow, running six races in eight days in three different countries, and the loss of a significant family member.

In April I took some time to kick back on a beach. Standing in the pouring rain watching sharks swim in the Wineglass Bay I thought about the past season. I was tired yes- but mostly I felt exhilarated. As any good coach knows, there’s a special kind of confidence that comes from overcoming challenges- it’s quiet a feeling to know you are capable of more than you realized. I came away from this season even more motivated to work towards becoming on of Canada’s World Cup coaches.

Today I’ve mustered the courage to tackle another change. After ten years in Ontario and three years with Cross Country Ontario I will be stepping away from my role as Ontario Coach to move back home to Whitehorse and spend more time with my family. This will take effect June 1 after the first Ontario Ski Team camp of the year.

The decision to leave Cross Country Ontario has been incredibly hard. In my role as Ontario Coach I had the honor of acting as an ambassador for our sport. Ski communities across the Province opened their doors to me. Ski families opened their homes to me & made me one of their own. My most cherished memories will be the times I spent getting to know the vibrant young athletes of this Province. What a privilege to be involved in helping athletes realize their goals. The passion and enthusiasm of our athletes has been an unending source of motivation for me. The worst thing about leaving this job is the knowledge I won’t get a chance to work with some of the kids I’ve been looking forward to seeing for years.IMG_5063

I want to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone in Ontario who made this one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I will miss you all so, so much.

So what’s next for Pav? Well- after 10 years out of the Yukon I’ll be returning home. Rudy has already said I’m not allowed to stay with him so I’ll be moving into my mom’s spare room in Whitehorse June 1st. I don’t have a job lined up- just a plan to volunteer coach, begin my NCI Level 4 and look for work opportunities that will allow me to keep afloat and focus my energy on coaching.

I leave with these two final statements;

  • I am absolutely still dedicated to High Performance skiing
  • Happiness and opportunity aren’t something you wait around for…they’re something you go out and create.

To the next adventure…






Our trip to Norway began as a conversation with Lisa Patterson. Patterson, who leads Canada’s World Junior [WJ} team was talking about the underperformance of Canadian athletes at International races. From her perspective athletes are fatigued following Trials races, are unaccustomed to the challenges of travelling overseas and are overwhelmed by the event itself. The outcome of these factors have been performances below what our Canadian athletes are capable at an International level.

The goal of our trip to Norway was to give future WJ/U23 candidates the opportunity to experience the challenges of racing overseas. It was a dress-rehearsal, an opportunity for athletes to learn in order to optimize future performance. And boy- we all did a lot of learning on this trip.

We arrived in Norway after a hasty transition from Canmore’s WJT. Tired from the races & subsequent travel we were pretty disappointed discover a complete lack of snow in Drammen and it’s surrounding areas. Local ski areas we planned to visit were closed- and on top of that, races we planned on participating in were either cancelled or moved.

Lesson # 1
When the plans you make don’t work out- make new ones.

We spent our first day in Norway looking for snow in an area we didn’t know very well. The end result was a jog around the Holmenkollen stadium. While the area was neat to explore- the general feeling at the end of the day was one of disappointment.

In retrospect we were so optimistic

In retrospect we were so optimistic

Day 2 we followed local information suggesting we check out a place called Norefjell 2h north of Drammen. We set off equipped with GPS coordinates and the promise of snow.

Lesson #2
Focus on your goal. Roll with the rest of it.

We definitely found snow in Norefjell. Lot’s of it. The snowpacked road was cut from snowdrifts and approx half a meter of snow accumulated while we were there. What we couldn’t find was a chalet- but finding a segment of trail from the road we practiced the art of the parking lot wax and head out from there.

The trails, groomed earlier in the day and covered in light powder, wound down into a spacious red pine valley. Despite this- several athletes were feeling stressed. Sitting in a van for 2h waiting for a ski in an unknown location with unknown variables was having a psychological effect. It reminded me of a particularly hot, miserable rollerski I endured with a group of 13 year old girls one year. The workout was on the cusp of being an utter disaster when the girls decided as a group to stop focusing on the negative and instead recognize they had an opportunity to embrace a good training opportunity and execute the workout goals. Was the lead up to our ski in Norefjell easy, perfect, or ideal? No. Did that need to impact the quality of our workout? It depends on how much you allowed the external variables affect the core goal.

Skiing in Norfjell

Skiing in Norefjell

Norwegian Nationals.

Upon returning from Norefjell Thursday evening we were informed that with considerable pressure from our Norwegian contact- our athletes would be entered in the team relay of Norwegian Nationals. Not only that but we were also invited to act as forerunners for Friday and Saturday’s races.

Lesson #3
When an opportunity comes along- work your ass off & make the most of it.

Our Norwegian string pulling contact is not to be messed with

Our Norwegian string pulling contact is not to be messed with

I’m not going to say it was easy for us to pick and leave Drammen on such short notice. Nor was the 3.5h drive to Lillehammer in a howling snowstorm. But we made it~ and the experience was pretty cool. Our athletes flew out of Lillehammer’s Birkenbeineren stadium in a blaze of glory. Busloads of the paying spectators lining the course highfived them as the jumbotron in the stadium showed replays from the qualifier. There is level of excitement around cross country skiing in Norway that takes some desensitizing. Forerunning for Norway’s top skiers Friday and Saturday gave our athletes an opportunity let it all sink in ahead of Sundays team relay.


Team Canada fore-running in Lillehammer

Team Canada fore-running in Lillehammer

Saturday night we followed as much of our pre-race routine as possible focusing on process based goals and planning for the next day. We talked about staying calm and focused in the lead up to the races, established race plans & key words, and established maps for successful personal results.

Lesson #4
You learn by doing.

Dave heads out

Dave heads out

Sundays event was a 3 leg relay [classic, classic, skate]5km laps for the women and 10km laps for the men. 142 teams had registered in the men’s field. That morning our athletes cut their teeth with the likes of Størmer Steira, Sunby & Northug. I was pretty proud to watch our guys keep their composure- remaining focused during their warmup, calmly moving into the transition zones & working during the race to maintain technique and race focus in such challenges circumstances. At the end of the day everyone made mistakes. No one had a perfect race. Even though our athletes had been through the motion a hundred time, even though we had planned for success- planning is not the same as doing. The best part about the experience was that everyone came with concrete knowledge of what they needed to do better in order to perform to their potential at such an event.


Bella Howden

Back in Drammen [which now had loads of snow] we spent an evening training with Konnerud, Drammen’s local Junior team. Ten minutes from town we arrived at a ski zoo- it was like a Nakkertok practice all over again- hundreds of kids whizzing by in groups going every direction.

Lesson #5
It’s about depth.IMG_8566

We didn’t discover any Norwegian secret powers. They don’t have jet-packs, tails, or superhuman speed. Konnerud’s Juniors were the same as Juniors back home- there were just more of them. That- and they ski a lot. Amidst the bustle of practice there were faster skiers, slower athletes [and a curious 2:1 girl/boy ratio]….and all of them ski, either after school, as part of their sport school, afterwards professionally or for their University because what else would you do in Norway? One morning I watched a Norwegian daycare let out for recess, teachers strapped skis to the kids tiny boots and sent them to a nearby hill. On a Wednesday night Konnerud held a Pee-Wee and midget race night. They had over 600 participants. Canadian’s like to get behind the Olympic rhetoric ‘we are winter’ but the humiliating truth is that we don’t deserve that title. Skiers make up 0.167%[1] of the population in Canada. Norway is winter, and until we stop acting like hard work and cold weather will kill us- we’ll never come close to them.


Victor, Joey and Julian making friends.

We spent our last weekend in Norway racing a Provincial-type race series. It was not what I expected. In all honestly- Saturdays race seemed pretty bush league compared to an OCup. The event organizers were confused when we asked about wax facilities and when we requested access to power they straight up laughed at us. The course consisted of two tracks set over a roughly 3km course. During the 4h‘s that midget and peewee skiers took over the course & even after that during the open categories athletes and coaches were free to ski on course.

Lesson #6
You don’t have to be fancy- you just have to be good.

So there we were powdering skis outside in the falling snow, grip testing around mini-midget skiers thinking ‘what kind of a local show is this?’- only to have Norway throwdown come start time. Some of our best athletes were about a minute back of the race leaders [some whom were former WJ champions]. We had a similar experience the following day- although some of our athletes fared a bit better.

And that was it. Monday I our team on a plane back to Canada and head to France to cool my heels for a few days before meeting up with the OPA tour for a series of races in Scandinavia.

Lesson #7
You get from life what you take.

Two weeks later the athletes are back in Canada- resting up from Easterns and prepping for OCup #3. No one who went to Norway came back immediately changed. What I encouraged our athletes to do was think about what they saw and what they learnt. Not just about Norway- but about themselves. Everyone struggled on this trip- my point was never to shelter anyone but to provide all of us with an experience which forced some critical self evaluation. If we want to address the challenges experienced and the weaknesses we discovered on this trip- the work lies ahead. Otherwise- it was another nice ski trip.

Julian Smith mid race in Lillehammer

Julian Smith mid race in Lillehammer


Jules and Musgrave- the camera was so stoked it couldn’t focus

Recognize these Olympic gold medalists?

Recognize these Olympic medalists?

Alannah McLean heads out for her leg of the team relay

Alannah McLean heads out for her leg of the team relay


Kieran mugging in front of Gjerdalen


Ideal Swix flakes


We found snow. Lots of snow.


We’re not lost. We’re learning Norwegian

Holmenkollen stadium is pretty rad

Holmenkollen stadium is pretty rad



Post race re-hashing

Post race re-hashing

Kieran Jones

Kieran Jones

Starting grid

Starting grid


I hear Sundby attributed his Olympic medal to lots of training, good technique, and this kiss.


I meet my style icon & new #1 crush

Inside the Norwegian wax bus

Inside the Norwegian wax bus

How to spectate like a hero

How to spectate like a hero


Also- this kid

IMG_5195 IMG_5183

[1] Based CCC membership in 2013/2014 and the current Canadian population.

Ontario in Norway.

A quick update for those anxious or otherwise curious members of our family back at home…

Jackie boards KLM from Calgary to Amsterdam

Jackie boards KLM from Calgary to Amsterdam

We arrived in Norway last night after a full night/day of flying. The flight was long but the food was good. The airport in Amsterdam was pretty was gigantic, beautiful, and mysterious. Very Scandinavian.

Casual Amsterdam sunrise

Casual Amsterdam sunrise

We are staying in Drammen, home of the World Cup city sprint. The team in living in a ski house called the Hovik. We share a kitchen and living room with three Swedes [who are rarely home coincidentally], but otherwise the athletes have five cozy double bed euro rooms to themselves.

Finding adequate snow coverage has proved a challenge so far. How ironic that we flew to Norway and couldn’t find ski trails. Until Sunday Norway had no snow- it’s been coming down steadily since then but the base here is still pretty minimal. We hunt around this morning and wound up in the legendary Holmenkollen, site of the historic 2011 World Champs. We attempted a ski in front of the Royal Family’s winter home, but with the risk of rock-rilling our skis athletes opted to run instead.

Optimistic about snow

Optimistic about snow

Team @ Holmenkollen

Team @ Holmenkollen

Team impressions of Hollmenkollen;
-everything looks old
-the ski jump is huge, scary, and awesome
-Holmenkollen is part of the larger neighborhood of Oslo, people live directly next to the sprint course
-a lot of money and infrastructure have been invested in skiing here
-the Holmenkollen sprint course was less intimidating in real life

This afternoon we fought jet-lag with a gym workout in downtown Drammen. Then we hit up the local grocery store, did furious mental math converting Norwegian Kroners to Canadian Dollars [5.68NKR=1CAD].

Tomorrow we take our quest for snow up into the mountains to Norefjell where we have been guaranteed lots of snow and groomed trails.


Some interesting things are in the pipeline for the next few days…stay tuned

Skiing, God and Father Mouchet.


The following article is a version of the one published in today’s Yukon News.

I’m in Silverstar at 1,900m when I find out Father Mouchet has died.  Part of me feels gutted, tears freeze on my eyelashes. But another part feels a deep building joy. The classic track I’m skiing on is hard packed and grooves of fresh corduroy glint like crocodile teeth in the sun. I make a bid for the summit.

Tuesday Dec 3 at 8:20am halfway up Silverstar Mountain.

Tuesday Dec 3 at 8:20am halfway up Silverstar Mountain.

The Legend of Father Mouchet is widespread throughout the North. He was a French Oblate Priest who fought Nazis on skis during WWII. He immigrated to Canada after the war and in the mid nineteen-fifties was sent to Old Crow to convert the Gwich”in people to a Western concept of God.

Finding the Anglican church doing a thorough enough job Father turned his attentions to another form of conversion and instead taught the people of Old Crow to cross county ski. In 1960 he formed the TEST program and by the 1970’s much of the Canadian National Ski Team was filled with athletes Father had produced between Old Crow and Inuvik.


Twenty years ago he received the Order of Canada “in recognition of his half-century of dedication to the people of the North.“ Until last year people in Whitehorse could glance him in the early mornings shuffling on his classic skis up and down the grueling 7.5km trail. He was 96.

Father and my mom in the spring of this year.

Father and my mom in the spring of this year.

It’s hard to express the depth, the profound impact of family relationships. Father’s entrance into my life has no starting point, no defined role. He married my parents, he baptized me. It was his influence that brought my parents to cross country skiing. When my dad left to work on the World Cup, Father walked me to school and drove me to swim practice. He was always there, an unquestioned piece of our family tapestry. I cannot imagine my childhood without him at our kitchen table, or on skis just around the corner.

TEST kids

TEST kids

As my coach Father was a harsh mentor. He believed the power of skiing came secondary only to God. He was a Priest and with that came a rigid commitment to training and an incredibly high standard for excellence. As a young teenager his expectations were hard, sometimes impossible to live up to. TEST kids skied in small loops focusing on technique. We climbed the same mountains over and over again. We chopped wood, hauled water and packed bags full of gravel around. A singular focus on excellence was imperative and there was no bullshitting him on what was 80% effort and what was 100% effort.

What I learned from those experiences was the deeper meaning of hard work, and that through hard work we gain the self confidence necessary to succeed. Father understood how important self confidence was. ‘Low self-esteem,’ he would often lament ‘is the  athletes greatest threat.’ When I turned twelve he told me to look in the mirror every day and say ‘My name is Pavlina Sudrich. I am strong. I can do anything!’ It was so lame I still groan when I think of it, but even today when I feel like I’m in over my head I remember those words.

TEST also helped me understand that my coaching philosophy is informed by broader values. Hard work is critical but it doesn’t have to be miserable. Friendship in sport is important. Elitism is destructive. Love of sport, love of training, and fun are what keep people skiing for decades.

Have fun. Work hard.

Have fun. Work hard.

Over the years Father Mouchet affected the lives of many people. From Inuvik Angus Cockney remembers the man who taught him to ski as a funny contradiction. “He didn’t look like a priest, he dressed like a human being. In residential school it was really hard to trust anyone but when Father came in…we thought he was different from the others. It didn’t take long for us to trust him.” Cross country skiing became an incredibly important aspect in Cockney’s life. “For me back then being in that system skiing became my escape hatch from the abuse that happened at that school. For me skiing was a way out, I adopted it as a lifestyle and I’m glad my kids did too.” Cockney’s son, Jesse is well known to us on the Canadian racing circuit. This past weekend he raced in the World Cup in Kuusamo, Finland.

In a time when Canada’s relationship with religion was growing increasingly tenuous, Father Mouchet established relationships of profound respect that would last lifetimes.

As Glena Tetlichi Frost tells me, “A lot of people are mourning for Father Mouchet in their community. We’re grieving. We’ve lost a family member. That speaks for itself. That’s how much he impacted Old Crow.”

Coming up to the summit.

Coming up to the summit.

Here on the side of this snow blown mountain I’m struggling through the last section of switchback trail. At this elevation my breath comes in short bursts, white in the cold morning air. In the last two weeks of his life I was fortunate enough to see Father every day. While he disappeared physically, mentally he remained untarnished. In the early mornings of each day we shared breakfast and laughter. It was an incredibly special time to spend with him. I loved him very much.

When I crest the summit the sun pours out lighting the low level clouds on fire. The First Nations say when a respected elder passes away and arrives in Paradise, that person sends days of sunshine to where they left. Today it seems, Father and I have both skied our way to Paradise.

Tuesday Dec 3, 8:50am. Top of Silverstar.

Tuesday Dec 3, 8:50am. Top of Silverstar.

When my team, a pack of laughing teenagers who love to ski find me we descend the mountain together. Saturday they will race with Knute Johanesgard, one of Fathers last athletes. Angus Cockney will join us, in Europe his son will race another World Cup, and in Whitehorse the ski club will be packed. Father’s legacy continues to live and breathe on ski trails around the world.

I feel incredibly honoured to have been asked to deliver Father’s Eulogy. I look forward to seeing the many friends who’s life has been affected Father Mouchet.

A vigil service will take place for Father Mouchet at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Monday, Dec 9th at 19:30.

The funeral mass will take place at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Tuesday, Dec 10th at 13:30pm. It will be followed by a reception at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre.

I would like to thank Cross Country Ontario for the flexibility it’s afforded me in returning home to Whitehorse during this time.

I would also like to thank my Team, an awesome gang of young people who’s motivation and enthusiasm has been incredibly comforting during my sadfest.


Some of the athletes in my amazing crew.

Silverstar- Part I


Second day of training is done,
And we skiers are having so much fun!
Although the training camp has barley begun,
Us athletes are already adapting to altitude.
Real — not roller — skiing on snow,
No simple technical transition.
Took an afternoon nap,
Then slipped out for a second ski!
Slap! Slap! Slap!

Sounds of sloppy technique,
To the coaches constructive critique.
While slowly, signs of improvement:
Spark, sparkle, shine.
And like a swans swift flight,
Skiers come in from the night,
To take their seats and eat.
This — the second day — done. 

The poem summarizes how the first two days of the camp have gone. I think it is a common group consensus that the transition from roller skiing to real skiing is far more difficult then we had expected. In the mornings we have done medium distance and worked on technique, then in the afternoon have gone for a short ski to work on what we had learned in the morning.

Altitude is another change that the group has had to adapt to. Staying in zone 1 is decently challenging. Checking the heart rate monitor far more frequently then normal.

All in all great first couple days of the camp. Silverstar’s a great place with majestic views. Spectacular skiing, trail system is unreal. Have high hopes for the rest of this camp.


Ryan & Maks [ghostwritten by Gavin Sheilds]

Maybe you read the Yukon Elite Squad blog. Maybe you’ve heard enough Yukoners say Whitehorse is ‘the greatest place ever’. Maybe you’re starting to believe it.

This week my ski operations are coming from the remote Whitehorse office. Very few people in Ontario have noticed I’m missing. I chalk this up to the magic of cell phones and internet. My dad keeps saying it’s because I have a fake job I made up to impress him. Dammit.

Here are 6 things I managed to forget about living in Whitehorse.

1) There’s no point in trying to eat vegetables in this town. Everyone just eats lots of meat.

At Superstore half an hour after opening? Too late, no fresh prodouce for you.

At Superstore half an hour after opening? Too late, no fresh prodouce for you.

For one, it’s almost impossible to get good fresh produce. Even if you do manage to organize your life around getting to Superstore early enough to snag some good lettuce, you’re probably not going to be able to get it home before it suffers frostbite & your salad looks like it has the plague. That and everyone here hunts. The other day at dinner Colin and Knute showed up with three grouse they shot earlier in the day. These grouse were not the main course just ‘appetizers’. As a side note- everyone here is pale and looks like they may have scurvy.

Oh good, fresh appetizers!

Oh good, fresh appetizers!

2) It’s cold.
Even in the early winter of mid November it’s -30. There’s no point in wearing anything other than ski pants, a down jacket and several toques everywhere you go. Yukoners distinguish the formalness of their attire by how many patches are on their down jackets. Going to the sawmill? Better pull out the down jacket I found in the garbage can. Going to the Arts Centre for Jazz night? Get out the down jacket that only has elbow patches.

-30. The wax of the day is wax remover.

-30. The wax of the day is wax remover.

Busting out the dress Mucklucks

Busting out the dress Mucklucks

3) It’s dark.
These days the sun comes up at 9:15 and sets at 4:15. This may lead you to believe that people with office jobs never see daylight- that would be false however. Most people in the Yukon are employed by various Federal and Territorial government departments which means they are either in line at Baked Cafe, are on an extended lunch break ski, or are off work early.

Sun at high noon

Sunrise? Sunset? Same thing.

4) My Dad may be trying to kill me, or just burn down the Ski Club.

Don't let the small stature of this man fool you. He's 7" crazy.

He may be 5ft but he’s 7ft crazy.

The first day back Rudy takes me ‘in search of good skiing’. This means lake skiing in search of thick enough ice. The good news is Rudy leads this ridiculous expedition. The bad news is I weigh about 40lbs more than him. We’ve been skiing for just over half an hour when a section of lake Rudy sailed over collapses under my weight. Rudy outlines my options as ‘you either need to weigh less or ski faster.’ Thanks Dad.

Just about drowned on my first day back. NBD

Just about drowned on my first day back. NBD

But I have to cut Rudy a bit of slack. A few days ago he was told he was being ‘phased out’ of his role as head track setter at the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club. This has been a big blow to dads ego. Lately he started trying to calculate how old he is. I have also noticed he’s stockpiling jerrcans of gasoline and collecting free match packets from local hotels. Also- his latest google search history turned the following results ‘hew to evoit erson’ which is either a misspelled variation of ‘how to avoid persons’ or ‘how to avoid arson.’ I’m not too worried. Ok, just a little.

Is this a man that could burn down a building? Yes.

Is this a man that could burn down a building? Yes.

5) My mother is definitely trying to kill me.
I’d love to say my mother is the rational link in the family but everyone in town agrees that she’s the crazy one. Worse than being crazy- Roxanne is of the strong conviction that the primary value of children is free slave labor. Ever since she realized I won’t be producing grandchildren anytime soon she’s been finding increasingly dangerous chores for me to tackle. This morning in the midst of 80km/h wind gusts she demanded I climb onto her roof and sweep the chimney. Afterwards she unveiled a full cord of wood she’s been saving for me to split.

80km/h winds. Perfect day to clean a chimney!

80km/h winds. Perfect day to clean a chimney!

Some lite woodsplitting

Some lite woodsplitting

6) The Yukon is the best and most beautiful place in the world.

I mean, just look at it. Plus the wax is always two layers of Rode Superblue covered with Multigrade Green [or Multigrade Purple if it’s spring].

Yukon River yesterday morning

Yukon River yesterday morning


Since assuming the role as Ontario Ski Team head coach three years ago I’ve seen our high performance programs undergo a series of changes. For the most part these changes have been aimed at increasing the effectiveness and level of meaningful support we offer our targeted high performance athletes.

Members of Cross Country Ontario will recall that last year two major changes were implemented. First, we began the first of a two year phase out of the Ontario Junior Development Team (OJDT). Although we recognize the value of an intermediate goal for athletes before the Ontario Ski Team, we felt the actual level of support being offered to athletes on the OJDT lacked meaning. While a jacket may serve as a good motivator it does little in the way of facilitating an athletes’ continued improvement. The second change we made to the 2013 season was to increase the depth of the Ontario Ski Team (OST) and move towards YOB based selection. The idea behind this was while phasing out support for the OJDT, increase the pool of athletes supported at the OST level. After years of having a team size of around 15 athletes we fluctuated to a max team size of 26. The learning curve continues.

In the quadrennial High Performance Plan [published in 2013 and available here] CCO states the mandate of the Ontario Ski Team as “provid[ing] a seamless transition from the provincial level to the National level.” The purpose of the Ontario Ski Team is to provide ancillary support to club level athletes in Ontario in helping them graduate onto the NDC and eventually NST.

It is the belief of CCO that in order to achieve this goal we must not only work hard with a small identified group of Juniors, but also provide meaningful support to a wider base of younger athletes in order to strengthen the depth and quality of Ontario athletes overall. To that affect we have made fairly significant change to landscape of our High Performance programming for 2014. The Ontario Talent Squad is a new initiative that has emerged with the goal of providing a larger group of developing athletes with an intermediary goal to the OST. Its purpose is equip younger athletes with the educational tools and training habits they will need to progress on to the Ontario Ski Team. The OST meanwhile will reduce in size focusing on supporting those top athletes in the Junior boy/girl category in their transition from club level skiers to an NDC.

The following page is summary of changes ahead of releasing the criteria document. [CLICK the image to see full size summary]
Please have a look and in the meatime….let it snow.

Summary- OST Changes 2014

Summary- OST Changes 2014