By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator


The athletes who will represent Manitoba in cross country skiing, including Para-Nordic, will enter what Karin McSherry, Executive Director of Cross Country Ski Association of Manitoba (CCSAM) describes as ‘a different universe’ in the energetic Canada Games environment. 

And regardless of your competitive goals, Karin believes watching these athletes on the journey to the podium sparks excitement.

 “I think anytime anyone can see others doing their sport, their activity at the national stage, at the highest level, or at least aspiring to that – it’s inspiring to others,” said Karin.

With just over six months before athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, mission staff, and friends and family descend onto PEI, the goal now is training and working hard to put together Manitoba’s final roster.


Concentration and Race Tactics

Elise Paetkau, one of Team Toba Cross Country Ski Coaches along with Coach Steven Wintoniw, said the sport has a heavy emphasis on endurance, with the athletes sometimes racing 10 kilometres or more.

“They need to be ready to make their way through those distances, mentally,” said Elise. “You need to be able to not let yourself get in your own head. You need to be able to focus on the next challenge coming up in front of you… on the next hill, or the next person you’re passing.”

In addition to strength training two to three times a week and ski training four times a week, cross country skiing is both technical and tactical. The athletes need to be sharp in these areas, too, because ultimately, the races may come down to just seconds that can be the difference between earning medal or not.

For example, athletes learn and practice specific race tactics to capture a couple extra seconds.

“Race tactics are how you are going to get around a person around this corner,” said Elise. “It’s taking the best line to be able to pass someone down a hill and around a corner at the same time.”


Selecting Team Toba

Final team selection will be in January 2023. 

In Coach Steven’s profile, he shares what he’ll be looking for in an athlete.

We want someone who is fast on their skis! This takes balance, strength, and endurance. As well, athletes that bring experience from other competitions bring smart tactics to their races, making them good team leaders,” said Steven. “Once our team is selected, we can focus on goals – like bringing out personal bests of course, and we are hopeful for a podium for Manitoba!”

Elise is looking forward to seeing the athletes challenge themselves and the different camps and trials coming up. 

“That’s going to be really fun to see all the different athletes from Manitoba get together, train together, and race together. And then the collaboration with the other coaches is also going to be a lot of fun.”

For those who do get selected, Karin hopes they relax, enjoy it, and that stress won’t impede on the experience.

“Once you’re there, you’ve done everything you can to prepare to be there, as an athlete. There’s nothing you can do to make yourself better at this point.”


Getting On Skis This Winter

“You can be an elite athlete and go to the Games like our athletes are going to be doing this year, and then as you grow older, you can keep skiing, and it’s a really healthy, really amazing, fun, outdoor activity to do with people and friends around you,” said Elise.

If you want to find ski trails throughout the province, look into renting equipment or taking lessons, visit the CCSAM website and follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

If you’re in Winnipeg, you can also head to Windsor Park Nordic Centre.

“That’s our home base in the winter,” said Karin. “It’s open seven days a week and it’s lit at night.”


Cheer On the Herd

Catch the Herd in PEI and follow @TeamToba on Instagram — your official source for Team Manitoba at the Canada Games.