The Challenge.

Last year I sat down with a pack of athletes from across Canada and asked them to tell me the biggest dream of their lives. What struck me about that day was how powerful it was to hear so many vocalize what until then had only been a secret wish.

Vocalizing your dreams takes courage. There’s a fear that in hearing a dream out loud it will sound ridiculous. There’s a fear that others may misunderstand, make fun of, or worst of all- not believe in your dreams.

But some things need to be said.

I have a big dream. One day I would like the people of Canada to be perched on the edge of their seats, watching a ski race they missed work, or a day of school for. One day I would like to see Canadians holding their collective breath as a pack of skiers emerge over the last climb. In the final gasping push I would like Canadians to see not just one maple emerge from the pack, but a storm of red maples capturing medals.

The way our sport is currently operating in this country does not support this goal.

This year we posted the worst cross-country Olympic performance since 1998. That was followed by an athlete announcing changes to staffing on the national team, four weeks before CCC generated a press release. We’ve had a president resign, a training centre lose its national designation, and we have a World Cup team without any women.

I lay these issues out not to point blame. I don’t believe any one person or organization is responsible for where we are now. I think we as a community are responsible. This is our challenge.

Everyone; from athletes, club coaches, and peoples who’s salary is somehow tied to CCC know that our sport is facing serious problems. Instead of solution building, all we seem to do is complain about how everyone else is the problem.

The war of distrust and animosity between coaches, clubs, and CCC in this country is having an effect on athletes.

I am tired of watching us celebrate each other’s failures. We fight over athletes, scrap over funds and trip over our own egos in the process. Right now a lot of people are sitting in the sandbox crying that no one else is willing to play along- or worse- we’re trying to build a new, better sandbox to play in alone. It’s not working. This environment is toxic and it’s costing us all.

If we continue to wait for someone to solve our problems nothing will change.

I believe we have athletes right now in Canada with the potential to take podiums at World Cups and Olympics. I believe that collectively the coaches in Canada can create and support a system that will get them there.

I’m committing to being a coach dedicated to positive change in our country.

  • I promise that if I have a problem with the way something or someone is operating I will address my concern directly and with respect.
  • For every issue I raise I will bring forward a solution.
  • I promise that when someone brings feedback and concerns to me I will listen. I will check my ego at the door and listen to the feedback.
  • When I hear of a co-worker who needs help I will support them.
  • I recognize that the failure of co-workers, of athletes, the failure of our system, is a failure on my part.

It’s my hope that colleagues across the country will join me in taking more accountability for the success of our sport moving forward. Maybe we can all think twice about the way we discuss problems. Maybe we can move forward as a community that shares each other’s success. And maybe someday we’ll all be left speechless by what our Canadian skiers can do.

That’s the challenge.


8 Comments on “The Challenge.

  1. Thanks for speaking up. need more people to follow your lead.

  2. Hello, Pav! I agree with all you have said and I am glad to have you as our voice to explain it kindly and clearly! Thank You.

    I will be happy to press forward with you and all the others, in a positive and helpful way so everyone can appreciate the outcome. It takes courage to address this and I support

    This Challenge!

    Thank You Pav,


    Angela Schmidt- Foster

  3. Truth be told, as a nation we are only turning away from what has made us proud to what is making us all poor. Across sport, education and culture, only those brave enough to recognize the folly of the current path can change the course. Put the “CAN” back into CANADA. Our leaders, our athletes, our fans, our dreams and our future depend on the practice and the performance of this essential element of success. Actions speak louder than words: Let’s do this!

  4. Sounds great Pav!

    Thanks for writing this. A lot of exellent points and thanks for stepping out and saying this!

    Ian Murray

  5. Hey Pavlina, I would be trilled to join you. I have so much passion for our sport and just as much frustration as everyone else has with how we have been operating. And yes, you are awesome 🙂

  6. Pav, as you know I’ve been living and coaching in Canada for many years. I brought out-side view, I brought education, I brought science, I brought international coaching experience. I’m capable to think Canadian way. I dare to say I can name problems openly, and I did it couple times. I wasn’t listen and I know why, however, that isn’t the point. Being honest, I gave it up, got hired by Australians last summer, caught by their enthusiasm, my mind and heart is with them now. Knowing you, I believe you might be the person starting the re-healing process. Crossing fingers for you!
    For sure, if you’re interested in, I’m ready to chat about our mutual love, skiing, any time you want.

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