Coach’s Summary of the Youth Olympic Games
The 2nd ever Winter Youth Olympic Games is coming to a close. I feel very privileged to have worked with two very mature young adults in Annika Richardson and Levi Nadlersmith.
Going into the games, my goal for these athletes was to have positive and competitive races along with a cultural experience, and learn what it’s like to race and travel in Europe. This was a learning experience for both from dealing with jet lag, the excitement of racing with big crowds and TV cameras, to eating monotonous buffet food.
The overall game experience is quite overwhelming due to the demands on their time. There are requirements to attend Opening Ceremonies, the walk to go to meals, travel to and from race site, and trying to fit in some of the cultural and social activities available to them as well.
Unfortunately, at big events such as this, it can be difficult to stay healthy and we had a cold bug travel through the Canadian team. Levi succumbed to a cold mid way through the competition week and was unable to perform to his potential but put in a valiant effort. Annika rebounded from a self-assessed disappointing sprint day to prove she is competitive at an international level.
Once our competitions came to a close, we made an effort to see the Norwegian landscape. We took a bus from Lillehammer to Sjusjoen with our Australian and Icelandic friends and skied back to the Birkebeiner Stadium. I am a firm believer that athletes need to have exposure to opportunities outside of racing as well. Twenty years down the road the athlete they will not likely remember their performance, placing or how they felt about their race, but they will remember the cool ski they did with a bunch of new friends.
Overall the goal is to give these athletes the opportunity to learn and feel what it is like to travel to and race in Europe so that when they make a World Junior Team, they have already had that experience and they can then focus on performance. I have no doubt that both Levi and Annika have benefitted from the Youth Olympic Game experience and will represent Canada at a World Juniors in the near future. Lisa Patterson CCC Team Leader
Lisa with Annika and Levi
The past two weeks have rapidly flown by. The Youth Olympic Games has been an amazing experience to be a part of! Along the lines of the Canada games last year, the biggest challenge for me has been managing fatigue and finding rest whenever possible. Throwing the time change into the mix affected me more than I was expecting. Having this knowledge, and an idea of how it affects me will be a huge asset for future international competitions. I have learned an incredible amount from this opportunity to compete for Canada.
I wasn't quite satisfied with my racing, I felt like my body wasn't in top form, that being said, watching the top skiers race, and seeing where I'd like to be/work towards in the next few years is inspiring! We have had the opportunity to listen to a few former professional athletes and Olympians share their experiences and tips that they learned during their careers.
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me and to Lisa, Camille and the Biathlon crew for the excellent coaching and speedy skis! Levi Nadlersmith
The Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games have been an absolute whirlwind. I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I have successfully made it through my first international competition.
The biggest lesson that I will leave Lillehammer with is the fact that in races such as these, ever second counts. I hope to maintain this competitive frame of mind necessary when racing the international field and apply it to my racing back home on Canadian soil.
Not all has been smooth sailing though. There have been a few disappointing results here when I did not manage to ski at the level I know that I can and therefore missed qualifying for the sprint. Lisa took Levi and I out to watch the heats, which really opened my eyes to the differences between how (for example) the Swedes skied up the hills versus how I tried to ski the hills. Some of the boys I am pretty sure we will see skiing the world cup very soon.
My favourite race was the 5km skate and I am so happy that I managed to reset after Tuesday and enter the distance race like any other. It was one of those magical days where I found I could access my reserves and my mental toughness easily. I love that I finished racing here at YOG on a high note.
I have dealt with the less than ideal food, the absolute busyness and exhaustion of constantly being surrounded by people and made lots of Canadian and international friends/acquaintances. The friendliness and sportsmanship that is encouraged by the games is awing, humbling and inspiring. People need to remember that sport is not about winning and I am proud to say I was a part of an event that truly took that to heart. Annika Richardson
Annika with new friend, Sweden's Johanna Hagstroem, winner of the sprint.