Calgary (AB), Canada – Three new faces were named to the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team on Monday as part of an injection of young talent.
Rookies Caleb Brousseau, of Terrace, British Columbia, Braydon Luscombe, of Duncan, British Columbia, and Michael Whitney of North Bay, Ontario, are among 11 athletes and two guides who will fly the flag for Canada during the 2011-12 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup season. They join a veteran-laden para-alpine roster that features Paralympic, IPC World Cup and IPC world championship medalists.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever had an influx of young talent like this,” said Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team athletic director Brianne Law. “It’s exciting because it’s a direct reflection of the success our Prospect program had last year. Our veterans have been around for a long time and enjoyed a lot of success. But the young guys bring a lot of energy as well as talent to our team.”
The new recruits step up from the Prospect program, where they successfully competed at the IPC Nor-Am level last season. Brousseau is a 23-year-old paraplegic who competes as a sit-skier. Luscombe and Whitney, both 18, compete in the standing category.
“They are young and have lots of energy in the gym,” said Law. “They already push the older guys and have raised the bar in terms of training. Without even realizing it the veterans are working harder to keep ahead.
“It’s promising for the future. We’ve really looked long-term and started to plan long-term.”
Matt Hallat, who was first named to the national para-alpine team in 2002, said the young guys have already made an impression on their senior colleagues at the team’s summer training camps.
“They’re working extremely hard and everyone has taken notice. It motivates us – the energy is contagious,” said Hallat, the 2011 Canadian para-alpine champion in giant slalom and slalom. “There have been a few times when young guys have come onto the team but they have been several years apart. To have three guys of similar age and ability come in shows a lot of promise for the future. It’s a very big deal for our team.”
In addition to the new faces, the team is boosted by the return from injury of Kimberly Joines and Morgan Perrin. Joines, of Edmonton, Alberta, is one of the planet’s best female sit-skiers. The 17-time IPC World Cup winner is working her way back from a serious injury that ruled her out of the 2010 Paralympics. Perrin, of Vancouver, British Columbia, is back after suffering a broken foot during the 2011 IPC world championships in Sestriere, Italy.
“Kim was out all last season but she’s had a great summer of training. We’re looking for her to be healthy and be the fierce competitor that she is,” said Law.
Edmonton’s Viviane Forest is working her way back from a concussion but two of the team’s leading lights, Chris Williamson and Karolina Wisniewska, are still struggling with injuries and aren’t sure if they will be able to return to competition in 2011-12.
Williamson, who competes in the visually impaired category, is one of the planet’s most decorated para-alpine athletes. He claimed his 100th IPC World Cup podium in January 2010 but suffered multiple injuries in a crash at the 2011 IPC World Championships in Sestriere, Italy. Wisniewska, of Calgary, Alta., is the first Paralympian to be inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame. She has fought her way back from several serious injuries and is currently out with a concussion.
“They’ve both sustained significant injuries but they are working hard and are committed to coming back,” said Law of Williamson and Wisniewska.
Two athletes who won’t return in 2011-12 are Sam Danniels, of Whistler, British Columbia, and Andrea Dziewior, of Nanaimo, British Columbia, who have decided to hang up their skis. Dziewior has been part of the national team since 2004 and goes out on top after winning her first Canadian championship earlier this year – taking the giant slalom title at the 2011 Canadian Para-alpine Ski Championships in Kimberley, British Columbia. The 25-year-old completed a remarkable comeback from injury to compete at the 2010 Paralympics, where she suffered a concussion after finishing the downhill race.
Danniels, a sit-skier who sustained a spine injury in a mountain bike accident in 2005, finished fourth at the 2009 IPC World Cup finals in his first ever start.
“Sam showed great talent in his time with the team and Andrea had an amazing comeback from injury at the Paralympics. She retired on a high,” said Law.
Josh Dueck will be one of the team’s athletes to watch this year. The Kimberley, British Columbia skier has established himself as one of team’s stars in recent years, picking up a silver medal in slalom at the 2010 Paralympics and winning a new group of fans with a memorable performance en route to claiming gold in skier-X at the 2011 X Games.
“Josh is someone who should be striving to win World Cups in the coming seasons,” said Law.
The national team just wrapped up its third training camp of the summer in Whistler, British Columbia. Athletes and coaches are due to head to Chile for an on-snow camp in September before the new IPC World Cup season gets underway in January 2012.
“The dryland camps have been amazing in terms of the training and the team-building,” said Hallat. “We’re getting closer and closer as a team.”
Panorama in British Columbia will play host to the IPC World Cup finals next March.
“It’s exciting for us to be racing back in Canada,” said Law. “Our team had a lot of success on home soil at the 2010 Paralympics in Whistler and we’re hoping to carry that momentum through at Panorama.”
|Caleb Brousseau||Terrace, B.C.||Sit-skiing|
|Josh Dueck||Kimberley, B.C.||Sit-skiing|
|Robin Fémy||Mont-Tremblant, Que.||Guide|
|Viviane Forest||Edmonton, Alta.||Visually impaired|
|Matt Hallat||Coquitlam, B.C.||Standing|
|Kimberly Joines||Edmonton, Alta.||Sit-skiing|
|Chloé Lauzon-Gauthier||Joliette, Que.||Guide|
|Braydon Luscombe||Duncan, B.C.||Standing|
|Morgan Perrin||Vancouver, B.C.||Standing|
|Kirk Schornstein||Spruce Grove, Alta.||Standing|
|Michael Whitney||North Bay, Ont.||Standing|
|Chris Williamson||Toronto, Ont.||Visually impaired|
|Karolina Wisniewska||Calgary, Alta.||Standing|