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March 2/06 7:58 am - CCA Releases 2006 National Team Program Information


Posted by Editor on 03/2/06
 

CCA Releases 2006 National Team Program Information
Courtesy Kris Westwood, High Performance Director

Below is the text of the CCA's National Team Program criteria for the coming season, as provided by Kris Westwood, High Performance Director. With each section of the report we have linked to the actual document, and provided our analysis of the Program.

I am proud to make public today the three major elements that comprise CCA high-performance programs: the National Team list, the National Team program of competitions, and the World Championships selection criteria.

The CCA is in a period of transition, and the changes to our programs reflect the fact that it is a time to rationalize and consolidate the way we do things. Our aim is to become a world-class organization, but we recognize that we cannot achieve this overnight; rather, we need to make incremental improvements over several years. As a result, the changes to our programs this year are significant without being radical.

The most important change this year has been the hiring of coaches. The CCA began 2005 with one coach, and we are beginning the 2006 season with seven: Eric van den Eynde (road and track), Michel LeBlanc (MTB), Vincent Jourdain (Assistant road and track), Stephen Burke (Paralympic), Tanya Dubnicoff (BMX), Houshang Amiri (National Cycling Centres) and Jacky Hardy (European projects). This is an investment in the future, because each coach is able to work closely with the athletes to ensure they can meet their goals.

National Team List
The purpose of the National Team List is to identify the athletes who will represent Canada on the international stage over the next few Olympic cycles. Athletes are nominated to the list based on a combination of objective and subjective criteria, according to the Olympic year they are most likely to reach their peak level of performance. The "A" list is made up of our 2008 performers; athletes on the "B" list will hit their stride in 2012; and the "C" list will be made up of athletes likely to be in the mix for the 2016 Games.

Nomination to the list makes athletes eligible for various kinds of support, including: subsidized services at National Cycling Centres; National Team clothing package; and the National Team equipment lending program. Athletes on the list also have obligations, such as communicating regularly with a National Team coach and adhering to the National Team program and the CCA code of ethics. Finally, it is important to remember that nomination to the National Team list does not guarantee selection to the World Championships: Worlds selection is an open process available to all eligible athletes.

The key changes to the NT list this year has been a reduction from more than 170 athletes to fewer than 90, and the development of criteria to be nominated to the list. This is to ensure each there is value to being on the list through the amount of support available to each athlete, and to make the nomination process clear to the athletes.

Click here for the 2006 National Team List document (pdf).

CC Analysis - We agree with the proposal to reduce the size of the national team, and to develop specific criteria for nomination to (and removal from) the list. However, there appears to be some confusion in the A, B, C levels as laid out in this document. "A" is supposed to be for athletes reaching their peak for 2008 and "B" for 2012 athletes, however, Gord Fraser, Michael Barry, Lyne Bessette, Charles Dionne, Ryder Hesjedal, Amy Moore, Dominique Perras, Trish Sinclair, Matt Toulouse, Svein Tuft and Eric Wohlberg are all listed as B athletes! We highly doubt if even the amazing Mr Wohlberg will still be competing at this level in 2012....

It appears that the A, B, C levels are based more on identifying where athletes stand in international rankings, and therefore the resulting 2008 / 2012 / 2016 streaming is skewed. The weighting for the Men's Road is also problematic, since there is great difficulty in any Canadian men reaching the A criteria, given the ProTour team design and the fact that riders have few opportunities to gain points.

A more realistic ranking would put greater weight for the A list on age (or expected remaining years of competitiveness) and experience at the elite level (for example, whether or not riders have attended previous Olympics, Worlds, etc. and how they performed at the level).

National Team Program
The 2006 National Team Program is not vastly different from past years. As always, the focus of the elite athletes is World Championships and Major Games, and there are development projects for up-and-coming athletes.

The National Coaches have worked hard this year to ensure that all of the events on the program fit into the long-term plan for the CCA. In other words, each project fulfills a role and is targeted to a specific group of athletes.

As the CCA's resources grow, the NT Program will grow as well. The most pressing need is for more development projects and training camps, but we will also see more investment in sport science, talent identification and other long-term initiatives.

Click here for the 2006 National Team Program document (pdf)

CC Analysis - There appears to be a greater attempt to provide both mountain bike and track athletes with the opportunity to attend races at the highest level of competition, which is a positive step. On the road front, we are seeing increased emphasis on U23 preparation; also a positive step. However, for Juniors there are pre-season camps in April and then nothing until July and August (pre-Worlds preparation). Furthermore, there are no fall camps for Juniors either - this could be especially important for riders making the transition to the U23 category. The CCA seems to recognize this shortcoming, and has promised more development projects and training camps as funding becomes available.

World Championships Criteria
The most significant changes to the World Championships selection criteria are the addition of performance criteria athletes must meet, and a reduction in the overall team size at Worlds, particularly the Mountain Bike World Championships.

The intent of these changes is to restrict world championships participation to athletes who can finish in the top half of their event, or who can contribute to such a result.

The Mountain Bike Worlds have been targeted specifically because Canada's results don't justify our team size in past years. In 2005, Canada had the biggest cross-country team at the Worlds (32 athletes), but was only ranked 9th among participating nations. By reducing the team size, the CCA can ensure that the athletes who are selected are ready to perform at that level, and that they all receive full funding and support from CCA staff on site.

The reduction in team size for Mountain Bike Worlds will also allow the CCA to invest in MTB development programs, an important area that has been neglected over the last few years. The CCA will be working to implement these programs for 2007.

Click here for the 2006 World Championships Critieria (pdf)

CC Analysis - We agree with the proposal that only athletes who are expected to be competitive should be sent to major Games or Worlds. Given the limited funds available, it only makes sense to concentrate resources with these athletes. The non-funding of DH and 4X athletes, while regretable, is defensible: Sport Canada funding does not fund non-Olympic events, and using funding for these athletes removes funding from the Olympic athletes. We have said before that the CCA and the DH community should work together to develop sponsors for this sector, which will enable funding to be provided for top athletes to attend the Worlds. There is an opportunity here. Overall, the criteria are quite straightforward, and the CCA is to be commended for having this information out earlier (and more transparently) than in the past.

 


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