Walking, rolling, sliding…
by Daniel Gauvreau.
… Running, climbing, jumping, throwing: fun-filled activities for some, training for others but for all, essential movement turned upside down by a lockdown that stretches on and on. Insidiously, ever-present screens have made our ways of living more and more sedentary. The worlds of health, education and sports are worried.
A few weeks ago, our freestyle skiing champion Mikaël Kingsbury called on the premier of Québec, in an open letter: “Thousands of young people have been deprived of their passion, of the activity that motivates them to leave the house, that gives them the will to surpass and the mental space to learn. I’m concerned that we are ‘losing’ these young people, that they’re leaving sports and turning to screens.”
An inspiring message for our young people and their families
Nonetheless, contrary to what we might think, being confined doesn’t necessarily mean being isolated at home. The situation is worldwide in scope and the virus is now part of our lives. The sports physicians warn us that you can’t put yourself into pause mode and hope for a happy ending.
That’s also the message given us by two local elite athletes who seem to have it worked out: Mont-Tremblant figure skater Mia-Catherine Lussier and cross-country skier Parker Courte-Rathwell from Arundel, both 19 years old. “We have had to adapt and reinvent our way of life”, they confide.
Mia and Parker: enlightened young athletes
Two attractive, radiant personalities, each in their own way. Parker is voluble and answers every question with precision. His clear goal is to be nothing less than one of the best cross-country skiers in the world. Equally willing, Mia is more interior when she answers; there is a long silence before she puts into words what skating brings her: “a state of well-being where I forget everything else and look ahead, towards life.”
Development of an elite athlete requires 10,000 hours of training sessions adapted to their needs. It represents, for most, about ten years of their life with three hours daily of training, competitions and exercises. That average varies with age and stage, of course, but it shows the investment required to get to the top.
Retaining the will to surpass
How do you keep going when suddenly your supervision, equipment and competitive environment all disappear? It’s a difficult period that peaked for Parker last December: “I started questioning everything and was asking myself if I hadn’t just wasted the past ten years pushing myself towards something that no longer existed.
Then I realized that if losing my activities affected me this much, it was because I really cared about them, and that period of doubt is now behind me.” Deprived of her 12 hours a week of arena time, Mia grabbed a few hours provided by her Montreal cégep (junior college) and the municipality of Mont-Tremblant. She trained on her own using outdoor rinks like the one in downtown Mont-Tremblant.
The national competition took place with two other female skaters, each alone in front of a videographer and that person’s camera in a deserted arena. “I had to face my demons: incapacitating fear and paralysis prior to a jump. I had to talk to myself to convince myself that in that silent arena, I was in competition and that I wanted to fight to overcome the obstacle.”
Innovation, adaptation and motivation
Those are our athletes’ key solutions. Documents and information from the Internet and resource people from his competitive world helped Parker design his adapted, personalized, training sessions. “I talk to my rivals more often than before thanks to the Internet and we’ve become a community that shares and exchanges.”
As for Mia, she doesn’t want to move ahead in the darkness: “Skating is the passion that allows me to imagine light and forget the difficulties.” To motivate families and children to move, there are many resources on the Internet, including the following sites: Participaction; Active for Life; the Association québécoise des médecins du sport et de l’exercice (in French only); Ottawa Public Health.
Among all the suggestions, here’s one that could be popular with your family: organize a one-against-one soccer tournament to win the right not to help with the dishes that evening. Let your athletes inspire you, and stay active.
Daniel Gauvreau2 Posts
Récréologue de formation (BAC), tour à tour organisateur, formateur, administrateur, consultant, chroniqueur et traducteur dans le milieu du plein air, Daniel Gauvreau s’est fait le chantre de l’activité physique en extérieur. De retour d’un périple au Québec et en France, il a choisi les Hautes-Laurentides pour satisfaire son amour de la nature. Semi-retraité, moniteur de ski de fond à la SFMT, son expérience profitera sans conteste aux lecteurs du Tremblant Express/ Trained recreationist (BAC), organizer, trainer, administrator, consultant, columnist and translator in the outdoor world, Daniel Gauvreau has championed outdoor physical activity. Returning from a trip to Quebec and France, he chose the Hautes-Laurentides to satisfy his love of nature. Semi-retired, cross-country ski instructor at the SFMT, his experience will undoubtedly benefit Tremblant Express readers.