(July 15, 2004)
Participating in the Canadian Olympic Committee’s (COC) Olympic Excellence Series was an exciting and valuable experience for four Skate Canada athletes.
The event, which was held June 11-13 in Lake Louise, Alta., brought together 37 winter sport athletes who were identified as potential 2006 Winter Olympic Games medallists. The first annual Olympic Excellence Series was designed to motivate the athletes to reach for the top of the Olympic podium.
Three-time Canadian Men’s Champion Emanuel Sandhu, 2004 Canadian Ladies Champion Cynthia Phaneuf and 2004 Canadian Pair Champions Valerie Marcoux and Craig Buntin were invited to attend the series.
Not only was the Olympic Excellence Series an excellent learning opportunity, but it also gave the Skate Canada athletes a chance to meet athletes from other winter sports.
“The event was fun,” said Sandhu. “It was nice to mingle with other types of athletes. That’s what makes the Olympics really cool.”
Five successful Canadian Olympians, including Tracy Wilson, who, with partner Rob McCall, won the bronze medal in the Ice Dance event at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, speed skater Susan Auch, freestyle skier Veronica Brenner, women’s hockey team captain Cassie Campbell and alpine skier Steve Podborski, made up the event’s steering committee.
Throughout the weekend, these well-known athletes spoke about their own Olympic experiences. They also discussed how they prepared to compete for a podium position at the Games.
Other speakers at the event included sport psychology consultant Peter Jensen, alpine skier Brian Stemmle, swimmer Mark Tewksbury and Torino Chef de Mission Shane Pearsall.
“My favourite speaker was Mark Tewksbury,” said Sandhu. “He was great, very animated, fun and was able to draw everyone who was listening into his story.”
During the event, the athletes also had the opportunity to discuss important issues, such as the venue in Torino and the logistics of travel to the Games. Team-building was also a big part of the weekend. The athletes were able to get to know athletes from a variety of winter sports, and team games were incorporated into the event.
Plans for another Olympic Excellence Series for Torino-bound athletes are underway.