National mountain bike coach scouts Canmore
Canada’s next Catharine Pendrel or Geoff Kabush could emerge from local trails, according to national mountain bike team development coach Ian Hughes.
“Young athletes in Canmore have everything they need to perform. If they keep going and are steered in the right direction, I’m confident Canmore can produce Olympic athletes,” Hughes said.
The strength of that thought brought Hughes to the Canmore Nordic Centre on Saturday (July 14) to host a mountain bike development camp designed to identify potential athletes for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic summer games. Cycling Canada is on the hunt for new talent, and wants to inspire more athletes to pick up the sport nationally.
“This is the first in a series of development camps we’re holding through Canada. We want to bring a new generation of riders through the ranks,” Hughes said.
The wealth of free riders makes Canmore a hot spot for strong mountain bike racers.
“In the west, there is a lot of free riding and adventure riding. We need to get them involved in the program. If you’re involved in free riding, you have the skills to race mountain bikes,” Hughes said.
Eighteen teenage mountain bikers from across Alberta, the Yukon and one athlete from Saskatchewan received invitations to participate in the camp.
“Our broad objective is to build a program where there are as many athletes taught as possible. If we have a lot of athletes to develop, if our base is strong, we’ll be able to have a system with depth. That’s lacking right now,” Hughes said.
Canada is no slouch on the world scene. Pendrel is considered one of the top three female cyclists on the planet while Kabush and Max Plaxton consistently finish in the top 10. However, the team needs young blood and five Bow Valley riders were invited to participate in the camp. Liah Harvie, Sara Poidevin and Robin Pollard were tapped to showcase their talents, while Jeremy and Benjamin Chambefort represented the Bow Valley boys. Each was hand-picked by their coaches to attend the development camp.
Hughes and local coach Ian Murray put the riders through their paces, focusing on basic skill development on the trail and in the classroom.
“High performance athletes don’t do anything magical. They just have the basics really wired,” Hughes said.
“There was a lot of skill development and focus on the fundamentals,” Murray said. “The athletes received a lot of inspiration and perspective on where they can go with mountain biking.”
Another camp is scheduled for Canmore, which Hughes would like to hold in conjuction with Canada Cup races and the Canadian national championships. This year, the Canmore race was cancelled, but Hughes wants to see more high level racing in Alberta.
Between 60 and 80 athletes have now attended camps across the country. More focused camps are planned for the near future, including an all-girls camp and specific age camps. Last weekend’s camp included athletes aged 14 to 18.
“We studied trail reconnaissance, how to pick different lines, what it means to be a high performance athlete. We want to show them the road ahead and what leads up to it. There are a lot of great opportunities for high performance athletes. You get to travel the world and meet incredible people,” Hughes said.
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