Canadian Cyclist


August 21/04 7:42 am - Development, Canada Cup, the future

Posted by Editoress on 08/21/04

Review / Preview MTB Canada Cup 2004

As usual in an Olympic year "smaller" events (like Sunpeaks or others) have to take a back seat, but nevertheless may be the next step to the next Olympics. Is this really true or do we just like to believe this? Does a series like the Canada Cup have a future and is it the future for the next generation? We have had the privilege over the last 20 years to be involved in different sports like speed skating, track and field, Nordic combined, cross country skiing triathlon and MTB. Every single athlete was a unique individual personality with a different response to training and social interactions. But all had one thing in common, all were or are endurance athletes and all of them had to go trough a structural development over a time span of 6 - 8 years to reach their ability to be a part of the world class endurance family. Lots of athletes try to get faster legally or otherwise but in the end the dedication, love of the sport and last but not least the social environment (family, friends, coaches, sponsors and associations) will help to show the real champions.

In MTB there are 2 exceptional athletes this year in perhaps their last Olympics. On the men's side Thomas Frischknecht and on the women's side Alison Sydor..

Over the next few months we will see a lot of finger pointing and negative comments of what is wrong, but very little positive constructive ideas. We are already finish with the main planning for some athletes for 2008/ 2012 Olympics and we use the Olympic year to see what other teams (nations, associations) are doing or not doing, how we can improve the environment for future athletes and help for a positive outlook.

This year's European Championship in MTB was a clear indication of what is coming in the future. Development is already the front runner for 2008. Even associations like Sweden already have a 2008 team going, not to mention countries like Switzerland, Poland, Germany, Austria and Spain just to name a few. Top nations left their top athletes at home (European Championship) to open the door for the future. Frischknecht is running a development team (Swiss power team) and has been giving back to the sport for years. This is just one story of a much larger trend in Europe.

What has this to do with a Canada Cup review /preview? Following is a summary for all the insiders of the MTB scene. A careful interpretation of these statistics can be very helpful to plan future development.

Canada Cup (CC) / Canadian champion ship (CS) statistics from last Olympics (2000 to 2004).

EventYearCategory# of athletesAthletes
CC2000Junior exp. Male51DouglasSavoyRoutley
CC2000Junior exp. Female18MawdsleyTarltonYoisten
CC2000Pro Elite men121HestlerTourvilleWedge
CC2000Pro Elite Female52SinclairBisaroPremont
CC2001Junior exp. Male48BussieresCoatesTrudel
CC2001Junior exp. Female20JobinMcKirdyFeldmann
CC2001Pro Elite men107ToulouseTourvilleMiles
CC2001Pro Elite Women47BisaroSinclairPremont
CC2002Junior exp. Male55BussieresTrudelCouture
CC2002Junior exp. Female18McKirdyTorresonHupin
CC2002Pro Elite men111HurleyFederauSneddon
CC2002Pro Elite Female59BisaroWalterStarko
CC2003Junior exp. Male35PlaxtonLambThorpe
CC2003Junior exp. Female12BattyVipondGagne
CC2003Pro elite men102JakomaitLegaWedge
CC2003Pro Elite female54WalterPremontDewolfe
CC2004Junior Male49
CC2004Junior female16
CC2004Pro Elite men93
CC2004Pro Elite female54

For all readers of statistics you will see a lot more than just the numbers.

If we now preview Saturday's upcoming XC race we can put this in perspective with the past.

In the junior female group we have Batty as the leader and if it goes with the plan she should repeat the 2003 result. In the past the Canadian junior females always had an important experience at the Worlds but Batty will have to wait for 1 more year (due to her age). The last big "talent" in her age group was Cecile Potts!!!

In the junior male category we have Gagne, a strong athlete, who should win the Cup (already has). Ryder Hesjedal was the only top Canadian junior, who carried his result into the world level (Silver at Mt. St Anne Worlds as a junior). It will be a good experience for Gagne to race in Europe.

In the pro elite men we may see for the first time an Espoir winning the overall (Watson), but there is a good group of 5 - 10 athletes who will push each other for a good race.

In the pro elite female category we have as well a group of young women pushing to the top.

This is an encouraging trend to see dedicated athletes working hard to close the gap to the top in the country. We hope to see these athletes break into the international scene in the next few years. As Alison Sydor stated in a short interview. "Unfortunately, athletes who wish to be competitive in MTB may have to move to Europe to keep up with the development of the sport". Let's hope, that the situation is not this extreme, but she may be right.

In 2003 we began the project 2008/2012 and we are now in discussion with the same sponsor that the Swiss Federation has to open a training centre for young Canadian athletes in Europe (Spain). We hope that we can develop a working partnership with Provincial Associations or the CCA to move this forward.

We hope to report quick results from Saturday's Canada Cup XC race and a review with some thoughts after the race.

We wish the Canadian athletes in Athens good luck and we look forward to see you back in Canada.

Juerg Feldmann
Fact Canada


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