Photo: Ken Read 2017 World Junior Championship Team Event Podium Åre, Sweden Excellence Takes Time

Podium Pathway

Skiers and ski racers with strong technical skiing skills acquired through the train to train stage can have the opportunity to follow a variety of unique pathways depending on their characteristics and capabilities. Ideally, these pathways will lead to the achievement of their competitive potential in the train to race stage and onto podium excellence in the race to win stage.

In the 2019/2020 season, Alpine Canada will begin to follow a new development model leading into the gold medal pathway. The new structure is aimed at elevating the upper level of our provincial teams while running select national projects throughout the year where Canada’s top developing athletes come together for opportunities to train and compete together as one team Canada. The new development pathway structure was built using an agreed set of athletic development principles constructed in partnership between the individual provincial and territorial sport organizations and Alpine Canada.  

Guiding Athletic Development Principles:

  1. Keep as many athletes in our sport as possible, reaching their full potential for as long as possible.
  2. Do not build the system around the outliers.
  3. Have patience and confidence in our long term athlete development system.
  4. Focus culture on long-term development rather than short-term success.
  5. Utilize smart calendaring for strong athlete development and competition success.
  6. Create skills first, follow the ACA LTAD 3.0.
  7. Be resilient and patient.
  8. Support athletes in the pursuit of their athletic and academic goals.
Phase 1: Development of Athleticism for Ski Racing 

Gliding Start to Learn to Train stages:

The principal objective is to develop a love for ski racing while building the physical strength and stamina to prepare the skier for success at the next development stages.

It is vital for young skiers to experience a gradual increase in on-snow volume and participate in a variety of complementary sports and physical training modalities to develop their physical literacy

At this stage, skiers should start skiing with their parents and enroll in a local ski club or ski school program. Enrolling children in a local ski club allows them to be together with friends and participate in the Alpine Canada Snow Stars program which provides the proper progression to develop their physical literacy on the snow through the development of fundamental movement skills and fundamental skiing skills.




Phase 2: Training to the Top 

Train to Train and Train to Race stages:

This phase aims to increase the volume of on-snow training and apply a skier's technical skills in a variety of competition environments to develop consistent race day performances through exposure to a higher volume of on-snow training. Ski racers will develop elite health habits and participate in a year-round training program to establish the physical strength and the stamina required to prevent injury. 

Ski racers in the Train to Race stage, progress from their local ski club to their respective provincial team, seeking to represent and compete as an Alpine Canada NextGen team member with the intent to formally enter the gold medal pathway. 

Once ski racers have officially qualified for the Alpine Canada NextGen teams, training and competition schedules are built using an individual performance plan (IPP). A ski racers IPP is managed cooperatively between national team coaches and an integrated support team (IST). Each IPP is built to provide the ski racer with the best chance to successfully enter the Race to Win stage. All ski racers at this stage participant in a centralized training program that includes a periodized annual training plan designed for physical conditioning and technical/tactical preparation to maximize development. 

Performance is initially measured using FIS points, where the fastest ski racer will receive the lowest FIS points with the goal to achieve a better FIS junior world ranking resulting from several consistent race day performances.


Phase 3: Racing for the Podium 

Race to Win stage:

When athletes enter phase three, the expectation is that skiers are already within reach of an elite level podium. For example, within two to three years of achieving their first podium at an Olympic Winter Games, FIS World Cup or FIS World Championship event. Ski racers are expected to be entirely dedicated to their sport and pursuing their dreams.

Winning is the GOAL!

Developing Sports Expertise - Specialization

Sports expertise in ski racing involves the ability to use active decision making to execute fundamental skiing technique with precision, at the optimum speed and under pressure with power and tactical accuracy.

Ski Racing is an early exposure, late specialization sport with the first exposures to skiing occurring at a young age, under six years of age. Early exposure will aid in the development of the required physical literacy skills necessary to build an athletic ski racer whom after many years of hard work will have the best chance to obtain podium performances in adulthood. 

During the foundational stages of development, developing the technical, tactical, physical and mental capacities take precedence over competition. During later stages, the ability to compete well and winning becomes the focus. Ski racers can begin focusing on podium performances after maturation once they are physically literate, physically fit and have consolidated their fundamental skiing skills. In alpine skiing, competitive skiers select ski racing as one of their primary sports around the Train to Train stage


Specializing too soon in a single sport or discipline can result in:

  • One-sided, sport-specific preparation before skiers are mature and have consolidated the basic fundamental skiing and movement skills.
  • Poor fundamental movement skills, resulting in a lack of physical literacy. 
  • Increased risk of injury, including overuse injury. 
  • Early burnout due to a reduced sense of accomplishment and physical and emotional exhaustion.
  • Early Retirement from training and competition due to a decreased desire to participate in sport.



  • Perceive they are a competent skier.
  • Can control their activity and experience.
  • Are driven to succeed, intrinsically motivated.
  • Have a positive social experience and relationships with others.
  • Can focus on the achievement of a task, not winning or obtaining praise. 

Optimal competition calendar planning at all stages is critical to athlete development to promote a progressive plan that includes the appropriate amount of variety and challenge to stimulate learning and mastery of the fundamental sport and movement skills. 

There are no shortcuts to becoming an expert competitor. It takes years of deliberate practice to build the required stamina, strength, speed, power, skills and athletic character to be competitive in the race to win stage at the elite levels of skiing.

Attributes of Successful Ski Racers

Success in ski racing requires physical, technical and tactical competence resulting from all around athleticism. It is evident that top skiers are good at many sports. Due to the nature of ski racing, children should gain exposure by participating in complementary sports throughout their career. Physical abilities and superior fitness are the foundations of confidence in sports and life. 


The love of going fast is an innate quality a ski racer must have and playing the game of ski racing is an excellent way to initiate the spirit of wanting to go fast. It is imperative to experience ski racing fun through suitable environments which ignite the spirit of sports participation early.


Research on the background of several top successful skiers has documented their regular exposure to time on snow during the initial stages, Gliding Start through Learn to Train, of development.


By the end of the Train to Train stage, ski racers should be in the consolidation phase of developing their fundamental skiing and movement skills. Ski racers should be proficient at the fifth level of Snow Stars


Ski racing is a power sport requiring ski racers to generate force quickly on demand. Conditions, courses, and terrain are continually changing. Ski racers are expected to be explosive and agile.



Because of the ever-changing playing field, the ability to make quick decisions is a critical success factor. This ability is very apparent in the champions of ski racing.


Excellence in any sport and life requires an innate desire to succeed; the motivation must come from within the ski racer. Having a competitive, growth mindset allows a ski racer to focus on the process of reaching the elite levels vs. the outcome of each competition. It's the ski racers' response to failure and success as they travel the pathway from the development ranks to the elite team that makes all the difference between becoming an almost champion or a champion.

Continuous Improvement

Long-term athletic development is never complete or final. This document represents the best practices in coaching and athlete development in the sport of skiing as they are understood today. Updates and changes to this document and the development pathway will follow the shared set of values agreed upon between ACA and the individual provincial and territorial sport organizations. 

The principle of Kaizen or continuous improvement encompasses the principal basis of the long-term athlete development framework, both in its dynamic evolution and in its application. The concept of continuous improvement is drawn from the respected Homer Sarasohn and W. Edwards Deming industrial philosophy, embraced by Japan as it rebuilt the country post-WWII.

Alpine Canada is always seeking improvements in our understanding and practice, this long-term athlete development website is dedicated to all skiers in Canada will continuously evolve to accommodate breakthroughs in sports science research, innovations in technology, and the development of best practices in coaching.

Long Term Development Shared Values: 
  • We believe a supportive, safe, holistic and respectful environment is foundational to successful athlete development and competition.
  • Fundamentally, what we do and the decisions we make, need to be for the greater good of our collective group of athletes. This does not mean every athlete will be happy with every decision but we will be confident they were dealt with fairly.
  • Skiing skill development is fundamental to sustainable athletic success.
  • We see hard work as both the right approach and achievement of its own.
  • We believe in fairness and inclusiveness.
  • We promote good health, excellent physical fitness and positive mental preparation.
  • Our processes are built on accountability and transparency.
  • Our culture of excellence creates sustainable success.
  • Cooperation and collaboration make us stronger.
  • While striving for top performing athletes and programs, we also seek cost effectiveness.
  • We embrace adaptability and continuous improvement.
  • We acknowledge that there can be multiple paths to success as defined in our LTAD.
  • We want to see all of our athletes, volunteers and stakeholders having fun and enjoying a quality sport experience.