CANMORE, Alta.— Louis Bouchard and Erik Braaten will share coaching responsibilities while leading the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team into a new era, Cross Country Ski de fond Canada announced on Thursday.
Bouchard, who has been a World Cup Team coach over the last eight years while also leading the National Training Centre in Mont Ste-Anne, Qué., will now take over head coaching responsibilities. He will work closely with Braaten sharing National Team coaching responsibilities.
“I am excited at this opportunity and I look forward to leading elite skiers representing Canada on the international scene,” said Bouchard – a longtime coach of Alex Harvey who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the program having worked in Canada’s cross-country ski system over the last two decades.
A former national junior team coach, national training centre coach and national team coach at three Olympic Winter Games along with numerous World Championships, Bouchard was the recipient of the Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Award on four occasions.
“Trust and chemistry are key ingredients to any successful team and I’m excited to be working with Erik in helping Canada’s high-performance cross-country skiers achieve their performance goals over the next years,” said Bouchard. “We have lots of work ahead of us, but with a strong plan in place, I know we will help our youngsters continue to develop, and our top athletes achieve excellence.”
Braaten, who has been coaching in the Norwegian system over the last six years, will take on his first national team coaching responsibility while teaming up with Bouchard, to mentor the nation’s developing athletes with the ultimate goal of guiding Canada back onto the international podium.
“Erik is a highly regarded young coach in Norway who is looking for an opportunity to contribute to our national program. He is passionate, knowledgeable, dedicated, and driven to develop into a world-class coach. I believe he and Louis (Bouchard) will complement each other’s skillsets and will have a significant impact on the development and the performance of our nation’s best athletes,” said Nicolas Lemyre, high performance advisor, Cross Country Ski de fond Canada.
Coaching has been in Braaten’s blood for as long as he can remember. Following high school, he went directly into the Norwegian School of Sports Science (NIH) where he earned a Bachelor degree in Sports Coaching with specialization in cross-country skiing. Named coach of the year last year by the Norwegian Ski Federation, Braaten has worked with several world-class skiers and coaches while attending the NIH. He has focused his time primarily with development level athletes in Norway’s top junior club Kjelsås, which includes two national junior team members. He was also the head coach of Oslo’s regional junior team.
“I knew from a very young age I wanted to combine my passion for skiing and coaching to help young cross-country skiers achieve their dreams,” said Braaten. “I am extremely honoured to have the opportunity to continue my own professional development as a coach while working with Louis and the Canadian program. My experience leading one of the biggest clubs in Norway has given me the values, skillset and experience needed to achieve success. I believe this starts by bringing each individual together, showing respect and working collaboratively as a team in an effort to deliver on the field of play. Coaching the Canadian program is an opportunity of a lifetime, and an exciting challenge that I’m ready for.”
Based in Quebec City, Bouchard will be tasked with leading the World Cup Team and for monitoring the day-to-day training of athletes in the eastern Canada. Working out of Canmore, Alta., Braaten will join Bouchard for select World Cup races and the World Championships and will be responsible for guiding athletes based in the western part of the country. Braaten will also be the National Team coach for the World Junior and Under-23 World Championships. They will communicate regularly to align the training of NST athletes across the country.
Bouchard and Braaten will both work closely with coaches across the country to share knowledge and ensure optimal mentoring for our best athletes who will continue to benefit from a national program structure, which will see a strong pool of coaches from across the country further strengthen the high-performance culture throughout the performance pathway.
“Louis and Erik are proven performers who will offer optimal training and competition supervision for our national team athletes. Together they present a good mixture of experience, knowledge and wisdom for both our athletes and coaches in Canada,” added Lemyre. “Many coaches across the country contribute significantly to the development of our athletes. It is our goal to invest in the development of this coaching community. Louis and Erik will play an important role in ensuring there is a strong collaboration across the country, expertise in development and program alignment".
“This is a dynamic duo who I believe is exactly what we need to build a medal winning program".