Fourth annual ‘Mike & Manny’ ski camp set to get underway
Canadian Alpine Ski Team stars Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Mike Janyk are set to host their fourth annual kids' ski camp in Whistler, B.C., this week.
Mike & Manny's Camp, held from April 26 to 30, offers four days of coaching and skill development to 12 deserving young ski racers who are selected from scores of applicants.
"Manny and I both come from families that struggled and had to make a lot of sacrifices to put us into skiing and help us get to the top," said Janyk, of Whistler.
"We wanted to do something to help kids from our province. We had a lot of applications this year and we'd love to expand the camp eventually. Each year the interest seems to grow."
The free camp is designed to help young racers who might otherwise not be able to attend a top-level off-season training program. It is open to B.C. Alpine members entering their first or second year of FIS (International Ski Federation) racing - aged 14 to 15. Each applicant is asked to write a short letter outlining why they should be picked, accompanied by a recommendation from their coach. A committee selects 12 lucky young skiers, who get to spend four days with Osborne-Paradis and Janyk.
"I will be at the house, hanging out with the kids. It's tons of fun," said Osborne-Paradis, a three-time World Cup winner who is on the road to recovery after breaking his leg last season. "Sometimes you forget what it's like to be a young skier - the fun of skiing every day - and it's good to bring it all back to the grass roots of the sport."
All 12 camp participants live under one roof and train together to mirror the experience of being "on the road" with members of the national ski team. They work on slalom, giant slalom, free skiing, drills and gate training, among other things.
"The biggest thing you can do is show them what this sport can offer. That's what they take away from it," said Janyk, the slalom ace who won bronze at the world championships in 2009.
"It started when Manny approached me about doing something for the kids - I thought it was a great idea. It wasn't until later, when I started meeting the parents and hearing how much it meant to the kids, that I realized what an impact the camp was having. It's always been a lot of fun but you start to see the benefits that the camp gives these kids."
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