A Northern B.C. athlete has been chosen to receive funding after her stellar performance at the RBC Training Ground in Calgary.
Vanderhoof speed skater, Alison Desmarais was the only northern B.C. athlete and one of 100 chosen in September, from 2,000 athletes across Canada to try out at the RBC Training Ground, which is a talent identification and athlete funding program designed to uncover athletes with Olympic potential.
Additionally, they provide athletes with the high-performance sport resources they need to achieve their goals, as stated on the RBC Training Ground website.
The event was held on Sept. 14 and there were 30 available spots for funding this year and Demarais performed well.
She is one of just 30 athletes chosen from across the country, from a variety of sports, to earn funding this year as an “RBC Future Olympian.”
Desmarais will be on a fast track with Speed Skating Canada’s national development team.
“I am very excited to get back to training and skating,” she said.
Being around high-performance athletes was a very “cool” experience, Demarais said, adding she got to meet athletes from across the country who participate in different sports.
“I met a girl who did judo and rowing which I thought was a very interesting combination.”
“The athletes were so like-minded. We would sit in the athlete lounge and talk about all the random exercises we are doing and the hardest thing we have ever done. So much fun.”
Desmarais will be participating in her first competition this season in March 2020.
She will start training in January as she is studying full time at the University of Calgary. Her university degree is in Kinesiology, with a major in exercise and health physiology.
Desmarais had spent time with the national speed skating team in Montreal in the Fall of 2018, but being that far away from home, didn’t work out for her. She participated in short-track but has been selected for funding at the RBC Training Ground for long-track speed skating.
Desmarais will be training at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval in Calgary.
“I’ll be working on my technique due to the switch from short track to long track. Will work on conditioning and strength which will be my focus.”
The funding she has received, can be used in the coming years for things like coaching, transportation, travel, equipment and nutrition, varies for each individual athlete and is administered by the participating national sport organization bringing the athlete into its system, stated a news release. The funding is provided by RBC.
Desmarais trained for years at both her home club – the Clippers Speed Skating Club – and the Prince George Speed Skating Club. She is a recent graduate of Nechako Valley Secondary School.
National sport organizations participating in RBC Training Ground include Athletics, Canoe Kayak, Cycling, Freestyle Ski, Rowing, Rugby and Speed Skating.
While Desmarais was identified by national scouts from a sport she’s already participating in, several identified athletes will now be training and competing in a brand new sport, stated the Nov. 13 media release.
Ryan Gibson, a hockey player from Kingston, Ontario, will now be training with Speed Skating Canada. Mégane Guénette, an artistic gymnast from Saint Jérome, Quebec will now be training with Freestyle Ski Canada. And Skye Pellerin, a long-distance runner from Ottawa Ontario, will now be in Cycling Canada’s Track Cycling program, as stated in the media release.
For future Vanderhoofian athletes who dream to compete at the same level, Desmarais said, “you need to want it.”
“A large part of the reason why I am this far is because I wanted it and put in a lot of effort in getting here on my own, with the support of my parents, sponsors and other clubs. I have had amazing support. It definitely though starts from the athlete themselves wanting to achieve it.”
If you have fun and love the sport, you will probably find a way to get to the top, Desmarais added.