CANMORE – Former Olympian Brittany Webster is trading the Bow River for Lake Okanagan, starting new chapters for herself and the Rundle Mountain Cycling Club (RMCC).
The former RMCC coach moved late last month to Kelowna for kinesiology studies at Okanagan College.
During Webster’s three years mentoring youth and teen athletes at RMCC, she brought an “Olympic-level attitude” to the program, which helped spark breakout performances from local racers Eva Poidevin, Logan Sadesky and Jack Menzies, among others, on national and provincial levels.
But the funny thing about Webster turning to coaching is she was strictly against it – at least at first.
“I told myself when I stopped (cross-country) skiing (after the 2014 Sochi Games) that I never wanted to be a coach,” she said.
But when an opportunity to assist in coaching with RMCC’s youth program came up in 2015, she warmed to the idea.
It ended up being a life-changing decision for the former Olympian and, as Webster puts it, “they made me eat my words” about coaching.
“I stepped in with the programming on an as needed basis and totally loved it,” she said. “Whether they know it or not, they helped me realize I love coaching and helping people.”
Her post-secondary program in kinesiology, with which she hopes leads to a career in physiotherapy, is an extension of that love for coaching and helping others achieve their goals.
Former RMCC president James Kendal is sad to see Webster leave the club and said she brought an Olympic-level approach as a coach, but still combined her style with a fun atmosphere for the riders.
“She was pretty hands-on and rode with them and pushed them and wasn’t just doing it from the sidelines,” Kendal said. “She advanced the level of racing with our youth that in the past had only been seen with adult racers.”
Taking over for Webster is Ian Murray, a well-known cyclist in the community.
“I’m looking forward to building off the great job Brittany has done,” Murray said in a June 2018 interview with the Outlook.
Working alongside RMCC athletes on a daily basis, helping propel them to the next level of their young racing careers was like second nature to Webster.
She said it was a positive experience to give athletes a trajectory to follow.
“They all achieved their goals and I’m satisfied I made that happen for them and without this program they wouldn’t have gone where they did go,” Webster said.
In the beginning, Webster kept the program simple. She would deliver training programs to up-and-comers Sadesky and Poidevin for the off-season and come June, full-time training would kick it.
Webster was able to get her athletes exposed to other racers outside the province as she knew mountain bike nationals would be held in Canmore in 2017 and 2018, where the best in Canada faced off.
“We transitioned in hiring a strength and conditioning coach, started doing more technical stuff, and the program developed into a full-time race team,” Webster said.
“The team as a whole was super strong. They became the best mountain bike team in the province pretty quickly.”
Under Webster, the teen riders eventually became the RMCC-R Express Race Team.
“Basically, this whole team has become something all the young athletes can aspire to be like … a foundation has been laid in place for all young riders now to have the opportunity to be able to work with a full-time coach and compete with the best riders in Canada.”