This may or may not be news for you… but I’ve just recently taken up the role as Athlete Rep for Cross Country Ontario! As of right now I’m not entirely sure what this means… other than I am now responsible for hearing out your ‘athlete issues’, doing what I can to help find answers to any questions you might have, and helping everyone stay in the loop in the Ontario ski world. So if you’ve got any ski-probs give me a shout, send me an email, Facebook message, tweet me, comment on my blog, send a carrier pigeon, whatever works, I’m open to whatever you have say. Since I’m new to this Athlete Rep thing I’m looking for all the feedback I can get so I can try and make things work better for everyone.
But enough about me, let’s talk about you and how you can become part of the Ontario Junior Development and/or Ski Team!
The Ontario Junior Development and Ski Team are made based on the Ontario Selection Criteria which is revised on a yearly basis. Now you might ask “Jenn, what on earth is the Ontario Selection Criteria?, that sounds terrifying!”
Well, what I’m talking about isn’t as frightening as you might think. The Selection Criteria outlines the conditions that a skier must fulfill in order to qualify for either the Ontario Junior Development Team or the Ontario Team. Let me lay the details (you actually care about) for each team.
NOTE: for all point calculations, points are generated based on sprint qualifiers, not finals!
‘What is the Development Team?’
The Ontario Development Team consists of the 44 athletes who best represent themselves on the Ontario Cup race circuit. The team of 44 does not include those athletes who are on Training Centres, or are on the Junior or Senior National team. All those who compete in at least 5 OCup races (including 2 of each technique), in the same category, and have a valid racing license are eligible! It is worth mentioning that only Juvenile and Junior Girl/Boy and Junior Men/Women categories are considered for the Devo Team, sorry master and midgets.
‘How do I make the Devo Team?’
- Race the Ontario Cup circuit
There are four OCup races throughout the course of the winter months and by participating in a Juvenile through Junior Men/Women category you earn points towards making the team. These points are calculated based on how you place within your category. I won’t get into detail, but what basically happens is your time is compared to the average time of the race winners in your category and you score a percentage from that comparison. So the faster you go and the better you place, the more points you score and the closer you are to making the Devo Team! For each category, the three athletes with the highest scores at the end of the OCup season automatically qualify for the Devo team. This leaves 26 more spots on the team. Skiers with the next highest scores are ranked (gender and age aside) and are also named to the team, thus making a team of 44 athletes. There is no fee to be part of this team, and all you have to do is participate in a minimum of five OCup races (there’s usually 2 or 3 per weekend) and make sure you do at least two classic and two skate events!
‘What do I get for being on this team?’
- Team Jacket
You know those black and red coats that have ONTARIO on the back? Well, by making the Devo team you effectively earn your stripes and can proudly flaunt your trendy team jacket at races, training, to school, to bed, even in the shower is you’re feeling risqué (make sure you check the washing instructions before showering with your jacket).
- Reimbursement for race registration at Nationals
Although it is not required for Devo team athletes to attend Nationals, many skiers do decide to make the trip and it can be a rather expensive venture. Thankfully, Cross Country Ontario is good enough to help the Devo team out by offering to reimburse athletes 50% of their individual entry fees for Nationals. Think of it as a bonus for all your hard work and as a boost to get you racing at the next level!
- Hang out time with Pav
For those of you who don’t know, or haven’t heard (about) her, Pav is the coach of the Ontario Ski Team. Her job is to look out for us Ontario skiers. For those athletes from some of the smaller clubs in Ontario, or those who are not yet part of a club, Pav is one of the people who can help you out with coaching stuff (whatever that is). Not everyone can be part of a monster club or has a coach with a ton of experience, so CCO and Pav try to bridge the gap and help the little guys out.
To make the team you must compete in 5 OCup races (at least 2 classic and 2 skate) and be within the top44 on the final ranking list.
If you make the team you get a nice jacket, reimbursement for some of your entries at Nationals, and permission to speak with Pavlina.
Ontario Ski Team
‘What is the Ontario Team?’
The Ontario Ski Team is essentially the next ‘step up’ from the development team. The OST takes the three athletes for each aggregate category (gender and year of birth) with the best overall results in six OCup races (three of each technique) and two individual races at Nationals (regardless of technique). Similar to how the Devo Team is decided, a separate list is created for the OST which ranks athletes based on their points for the races mentioned. Keep in mind that those athletes who make the OST still receive the benefits granted to the Devo team and are considered members of the Devo squad.
Instead of it being a compiled list for all the categories, for each gender and year of birth (starting with 1998 girls and 1997 boys, ending with Junior Men/Women and U23) athletes are ranked and the top three (max 2 for Jr. M/W & 1st year Juvenile girls) are nominated to the Ontario Ski Team. Again, my apologies to the young and the old, but this team is designed to fit the Long Term Athlete Development model (LTAD). … Though, if you are a midget and feel like you could teach those Juveniles a lesson (some of them could use one) then racing up is an option – talk to your coaches or someone older and wiser to see what you can do.
‘How do I make the Ontario Team?’
- Race the Ontario Cup circuit
As I mentioned before, you must compete in at least six OCup races (three skate, three classic). Your performance at OCup races is essential to making the Ontario Ski Team, unless you plan on really ripping it up at Nationals (will explain).
- Race at the National Championships
At Nationals there are four individual events, to make the OST, it’s your best two that count. The points are, again, calculated based on your time relative to that of the best Ontario skiers in your category (don’t worry about those other nOntario kids, their results don’t directly influence the selection of the OST).The points from the OCup races and Nationals are then combined to give you a final score, if you will. With this score the top three athletes for each year of birth and gender are decided and are nominated to the OST. This applies for all Juvenile and Junior Boy/Girl categories except 1st year Juvenile Girls where only two are selected (instead of three).For Junior Men/Women and U23, things are a bit different. Unlike the youngsters, your OCup results don’t actually matter (well, kind of). What does matter is that you achieve 90% of the International Performance Benchmark. I won’t get into what that is or what it means because that’s a whole other lengthy document that I’m particularly inclined to read and translate. The important thing is to know that you have to be racing decently fast to make this standard (check out the actual document for the numbers and compare them to your CPL rankings – if you don’t know what the CPL is then let me know and maybe I will blog about that later). What also matters is that you participate in at least two individual races at Nationals. So really, other than making 90% of the IPB all of you have to do is show up and race at Nationals and you’re on the team!
Remember what I said about the OCups being important, unless you’re planning on killing it at Nationals? Well at Nationals there are Aggregate awards presented after all the races have been completed. These awards are based on the four individual events that take place at Nationals. If you’re speedy enough to score a top5 aggregate for your year of birth – BINGO! you’re on the team. Easy-peasy, right?
‘what do I get for being on this team?’
- Race suit
Now what’s even better than those snazzy jackets the Devo team picked up are the Ontario Team race suits. If you don’t believe me, just ask Shelby D. about them (she’s a huge fan).
- Training Camps
A major highlight of being on the OST is having the opportunities to train on snow early in the season. There is usually the option to attend a summer on snow camp and/or the traditional Silver Star early snow camp in December. Not only are the camps excellent training opportunities (that are subsidised by CCO), but being able to train with the other super fast members of the OST is a huge bonus as well.
Unlike the Devo team, the OST is much more involved. Ontario Team athletes have regular communication with Pav and it is also in her contract that she must cheer extra loud for you out on course. Having access to another coach will benefit you as well as your club coach and club. Creating networks and getting to know people outside of your own club niche is important for developing as an athlete, it gives you more learning opportunities and options for your future.
- Ontario Carding Eligibility
You must be a member of the Ontario Ski Team in order to be eligible for the Quest for Gold Athlete Assistance program. This program is funded by a lottery and is committed to providing financial aid to athletes. There is additional criteria that must be made in order to receive carding (if you have questions about this, feel free to ask).
To make the team (Juvenile & Junior Boy/Girl), race at least 3 classic and 3 skate OCup events and Nationals, where either your best two individual results score towards your final ranking, OR you can punch your ticket with a top5 aggregate at Nationals. The top three ranked Juvenile and Junior Boys, Junior Girls and two first year Juvenile Girls after all the racing will be nominated for the Ontario Ski Team. For the other categories: compete in two individual events at Nationals and achieve 90% of the IPB in at least one race during the season. A maximum of two skiers in each category may be selected.
Once you’ve made the team you will be knighted, you will don your race suit and be asked to pay a team fee before joining your teammates from the farthest reaches of Ontario on an epic quest for nationwide ski racing domination (all while obeying the Athlete Contract you signed saying you are committed to awesomeness and will not do anything illegal while on your skiing escapades).
Okay so I think I covered the important bits. This was supposed to be a laymen’s version of the actual selection criteria document, but I’m not actually sure if this is any clearer (maybe not, but it does have more exciting commentary). All the details should be straight, but if something seems a bit off please check out the official Selection Criteria Document and let me know what you turn up.
And once again, if you’ve got an athlete issue, let me know. I’ve got hit-men that will take care of pretty much anything.