The Canadian Olympic Committee is bringing its official talent search to the Okanagan, and young athletes are invited to attend for the chance to enter Canada’s Olympic pipeline.
RBC Training Ground is a free program that will take place at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) gymnasium on Sunday, April 10.
Athletes aged 14 to 25 can take part. At the training session, they’ll undergo strength, speed, power and endurance tests.
Vernon freestyle and big air skier Elena Gaskell is an RBC Olympian, and while she herself didn’t rise to the top of her sport through Training Ground, she knows many athletes who found their sport during the program and went on to great success.
“RBC Training Ground is just a great opportunity for young athletic teens, youth as well, to get their chance to find a sport or opportunity that they can thrive in,” she said.
She names her friend Marion Thénault as an RBC Training Ground success story. After the program introduced her to the sport of aerial skiing, Thénault went on to win a bronze medal at the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Gaskell went to those same Olympic Games, though she was sidelined by a knee injury the day before she was to compete. She says she just recently had surgey and is currently in rehab and recovery mode.
“Anytime I’m injured I often think about how much I miss my sport and it just makes me want to do it more once I’m able to.”
Gaskell started skiing when she was four years old and made the Canadian national team when she was 15, competing internationally ever since. She says she was lucky to find her sport so early and hopes other young athletes can find the sport they’re most passionate about through Training Ground.
“It’s just a good opportunity for anybody who’s interested in sport and doesn’t quite know where it could lead them.”
Athletes who impress at Training Ground will be invited to an extra round of assessment. From there, they can earn grants and resources to further themselves in sport.
Now in its seventh year, thousands of athletes take part in RBC Training Ground each year. According to the program’s website, more than 10,000 athletes have been tested by the program in its first six years.
To date, Training Ground has unearthed and funded seven Canadian Olympic medalists and put hundreds more athletes into Canada’s Olympic pipeline.
For more information or to register, visit rbctrainingground.ca.