The University of Alberta’s Augustana Vikings and Camrose Ski Club Junior Vikings have combined forces to hire a new head coach for cross-country skiing.
Les Parsons is excited about the challenge of building on the long tradition of cross-country skiing and biathlon in the Camrose region. He arrived in Camrose two weeks ago, just in time to help host the Augustana Vikings Wall of Fame event and help recognize longtime friends for their legacy of leadership.
Parsons brings a wealth of thirty years of coaching experience to share with our nordic athletes in Camrose. He began competing in cross-country skiing at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. For 15 years, he coached the Vermilion Nordic and Lakeland College Ski Teams. Four of his Vermilion athletes developed into national team athletes in cross-country skiing, biathlon, cross-country running and track & field. Parsons was the club coach of 2002 Olympic Gold Medalist Beckie Scott from Vermilion.
He then coached in Quebec City for seven years, with continued success as the club coach of 2011 World Champion Gold Medalist Alex Harvey. For the past four years, Parsons coached in Edmonton, producing yet another Youth Olympian Matt Saurette.
However, Parsons measures his success not by medal wins but by the impact he has in his role as a coach. He contributes to the development of young athletes, helps them to become good people and leaders in our society.
Parson’s mentor when he first started coaching was Garry Gibson, who was his professor in the Camrose Lutheran College Outdoor Leadership Program back in 1982. Gibson shared his coaching philosophy which has stuck to this day: “We are not coaching cross-country skiing: we are coaching people who cross-country ski.” Anyone can coach a sport… the challenge is coaching young people.
Parsons is excited to promote his sports here in Camrose. Augustana Campus and the Camrose Ski Club possess the resources to develop a major centre for nordic skiing in Canada. In this, he is supported by the quality and enthusiasm of volunteer ski and biathlon coaches. Parsons is equally impressed with volunteer leaders of the Camrose Ski Club executive, who have developed one of the best ski, cycling and walking trail systems in Canada…”right in our own backyard!”
Parsons hopes that more people in our Camrose region will realize how extremely fortunate they are to experience the beautiful forest trails along the Stoney Creek Valley. “We offer the opportunity for cross-country skiers to pursue a lifetime sport,” says Parsons, “beginning with our Jackrabbits Learn to Ski Program for children or our Junior Vikings XC Ski Team. Skiers can continue on to ski with the Augustana Vikings Team – to compete at the World University Games – or to ski with our Adults Masters XC Ski Team.”
Parsons is busy recruiting in the Camrose region to introduce young athletes and their families to cross-country skiing.
His focus this fall is to recruit junior high school and high school athletes, who train and compete in summer sports such as cross-country running, soccer, swimming, triathlon, road biking, mountain biking, rowing or any other endurance sports. Les coaches all of these sports as part of his year-round multi-sport training program. He also welcomes any winter sport athletes who have stopped competing in hockey, ringette, figure skating or any other team sports or individual sports. He is targeting young athletes who live in the Camrose region of Wetaskiwin, Leduc, Vegreville, Wainwright, Stettler and Ponoka. Younger athletes in elementary school are welcome to join the Jackrabbit Learn to Ski Program for children.
This fall, Parsons is coaching alongside the Augustana Vikings Cross-Country Running Team, coached by Gerhard Lotz and Robert Renman. Young athletes who like or are interested in cross country running are welcome to join us and train at the same time as our university athletes.
This Sunday September 30th is your opportunity to meet Coach Les, at our Camrose Ski Club Skickoff Swap and Potluck Feast! Don’t be shy – Les is friendly and funny!
New families are invited and welcome to join us on Sunday afternoon at our Stoney Creek Ski Lodge located at 5320-40 Avenue, overlooking the ski jump. People are encouraged to sell and buy used cross country ski equipment between 12:30pm-2:30pm. Our potluck begins at 2:30pm. Information and registration for our ski programs will be available. More information can be found at www.camroseskiclub.com