Main photo: (back from left) Victor Wiltman, technical director for Cross Country Ski Ontario; David Laughton, HHS skier; Riley de Gans, HHS skier and member of the Ontario ski team; Jon Strickland, Arrowhead Nordic race coach; Candace Wahl, Arrowhead NordicTrack Attack coach; Anne Lindsay, Track Attack coach; Steve Jones, HHS coach and Arrowhead Nordic club director; Drew Hutcheson, former Arrowhead Nordic club president and benefactor; Grace Scott, HHS coach; (front from left) Braunwyn Strickland, Arrowhead Nordic racer; Holly Strickland, Arrowhead Nordic race coach; and Cait Gottlieb, Arrowhead Nordic racer (supplied)
On Wednesday, December 11, in blizzard-like weather, a handful of skiers from the Arrowhead Nordic Ski Team joined Victor Wiltman, the technical director from Cross Country Ski Ontario (XCSO), at the Lookout Field behind the Canada Summit Centre to improve their skills.
“My appearance in Huntsville was part of [Cross Country Ski Ontario’s] plan to connect with clubs, their coaches and the skiers… Stopping in to see what is happening on the ground lets us make more informed decisions on how we develop skiing in the province and where we direct resources,” said Wiltman.
Arrowhead Nordic’s race program is in a growth year. Holly and Jon Strickland, two passionate veteran coaches, took over the program mid-season last year and have, with input from the Arrowhead Nordic board, revamped the program.
One of their goals is to work collaboratively with other Southern Ontario District clubs as well as Cross Country Ski Ontario. That is why they jumped at the opportunity to host Victor Wiltman.
Originally, the on-snow session by XCSO’s technical director was supposed to be hosted by HHS cross-country ski coach John Cowan, but when labour unrest threatened the session, Cowan called on Holly and Jon to take over through the club.
“Victor came up last year as well and the session was not only helpful for the skiers, but also for the coaches. The opportunity to discuss technique and how we as local coaches might grow the sport and our programs is invaluable,” said Holly.
The Arrowhead Nordic Ski Club promotes the benefits of cross-country skiing for all ages, from young Jackrabbbits (ages 4-10), Track Attack (ages 9-12), and the Arrowhead Race Crew (ARC ages 11 and up), through to high school, university, and masters. “We significantly re-structured our grassroots and high-performance programming for the 2019-20 season to capture more skiers in an attempt to engage more skiers more actively in the sport. We need everyone from Jackrabbits all the way to the World Cup to enjoy participating and pushing each other along the way to grow the profile of the sport, ” said Wiltman.
Arrowhead Nordic is working to increase its connection with other Ontario and national ski communities.
“We want to see more collaboration between clubs. We recognize that cross-country ski racing is for the most part an individual sport, but it is the camaraderie and social aspect that will keep most youth involved in the sport,” said Holly.
“You have only to look at the HHS team with more than 50 members this year to realize that the team aspect and having fun while on skis is very important to developing a strong program,” added Jon.
Learn more about the Arrowhead Nordic Club’s programs at arrowheadnordic.ca.
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