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Hey Coach: La Releve? La What?

Future generations of Olympians and World Champions is what the Canadian Curling Association’s La Releve program is all about.   “La What” you say?  La Releve. Loosely translated it means ‘next generation’ and had its beginnings as a Sport Canada initiative at the beginning of this decade.   The CCA has encompassed it fully into our high performance program and looks at it as an integral piece of our high performance plan.

As we are beginning a new Olympic cycle it was decided to start from scratch with this program.  We have included 60 athletes, under the age of 33, who are aiming for the podium in 2014.  There were no applications! These athletes qualified on their own merit, through their accomplishments or CTRS standing.   We have a phenomenal talent pool assembling this weekend in Edmonton for a  three day camp.

Marcel Rocque at the 2009 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Edmonton. (Photo: CCA/Michael Burns Photography)

Why am I telling you about this?  I want to ensure that the junior athletes out there know there are programs in their future supported by their national sport federation.  These athletes have been invited to a training camp where we have assembled a world class cast of instructors and coaches!  Along with our National Coaching Staff we have added a few top athletes (Nolan Thiessen, Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jeff Stoughton, Marcel Roque, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert)!!  A number of these athletes were in the original La Releve program which was centred around the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, as well as looking toward 2010.

Our main goal for this program is to help support and affect the athlete’s training and practice.   We have noticed that the majority of our young athletes to do not have access to some of the elite coaching or sport science in our country and we want to try to change that so that in the future they are practicing properly and getting the same information as our top five teams in the country.   It has been an evolution and the program continues to evolve as we move into our newest four year cycle.    These athletes will be invited to another camp in the spring. Their continued involvement will be based on their CTRS accomplishments for the following three years leading to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia!

The athletes will be put through an intensive set of “in class” and “on ice” instructional opportunities this weekend.  They will be introduced to our video analysis machines from our National Training Centres in Calgary and Edmonton. These computer set ups have the option of showing multiple camera angles at once, and can be taken on the road!  They will also be in “on” and “off” ice sessions directed by the aforementioned top athletes.  It says something about our sport when our current top athletes will assist their younger peers to ensure our sport continues to get better and Canada continues to lead in how we play the game world wide.

I will be sure to take a number of photographs to share on our main Curling.ca website.  It should be an amazing experience for all involved and definitely a program for which our teenage athletes should strive to qualify!