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Cross Country Canada Names New CEO: Shane Pearsall

Shane Pearsall, Cross Country Canada's incoming CEO (Photo: CCC)

Shane Pearsall, Cross Country Canada’s incoming CEO (Photo: CCC)

Corporate leader returns to sport community to build on strong foundation of shaping bright future for Nordic sport

(Press release)

CANMORE, Alta. — After spending the last decade in Alberta’s oil patch, Shane Pearsall is returning to the Canadian sport community, January 1, as the chief executive officer for Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada, the Board of Directors announced on Monday.

The Chef de Mission for the 2006 Canadian Olympic Team, Pearsall was the chief operating officer of Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton (BCS) for three years before returning to his career in the oil and gas industry in 2006 where he took on leadership positions with AltaGas and EnCana Corporation/Cenovus Energy.

A member of Canada’s National Men’s Hockey Team in 1980, Pearsall is most recognized in the sport community for his work at BCS where he developed a corporate strategy designed to build extensive relationships with the organization’s major government and corporate partners that continue with him today, motivated a team of dedicated professionals, and managed a financially sustainable budget – all of which contributed to providing a pathway for athletes to deliver countless World Championship, World Cup, and a record-setting four Olympic medals for the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton in Torino.

“Shane is very well respected in the Canadian sport community and is no stranger to cross-country ski circles in Canada, so our selection committee felt he was an ideal fit to lead our sport to 2018 and beyond,” said Jamie Coatsworth, chair, Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada. “We were fortuitous our leadership opportunity aligned with Shane’s availability, in order to move quickly and get him on board to lead our passionate staff. Shane is a proven performer in sport and business, and is driven to succeed in steering our sport’s future.”

In 2007, Pearsall played an instrumental role in connecting Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada with one of its premier, and longstanding, corporate partners in AltaGas.

“I learned a great deal while working in the corporate sector, and value the knowledge gained during this time, but I never lost touch with sport,” said Pearsall. “Sport has become big business, and has many synergies with the corporate sector. Success starts within our own walls. It is critical we work together as a tight-knit community who is aligned and believes in the brand, are committed to the long-term strategic goals, and are relentless in our pursuit of excellence if we truly want to create more Olympic and Paralympic champions for Canada in cross-country skiing, and in turn put more kids on snow. I am absolutely honoured to have the opportunity to join the Nordic community.”

Working with Cross Country Ski de Fond’s network of provincial sport partners, Pearsall is committed to leading a continued focus on delivering the tools athletes and coaches – from the grassroots to elite levels – need to ski onto the podium.

He will take over the reigns of the governing body for cross-country skiing in Canada in the New Year from Pierre Lafontaine, who announced recently he would be returning to his native Ottawa to lead Cycling Canada.

“Shane and Pierre have tremendous respect for one another, and are already working together to ensure a seamless transition in our leadership,” added Coatsworth. “Our sport is in good hands, and I am looking forward to celebrating many milestones in our continued progress with Shane leading the charge.”

Nov. 25 Roundup: Canadian Olympian Donald Farley Dies; Northug Out for Ruka

– The nordic ski community is mourning the loss of Canadian Olympian Donald Farley, who passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 19. Farley, 46, was an 11-year member of the Canadian national team between 1992 and 2002, according to Cross Country Canada (CCC). A two-time Olympian (Nagano 1998 and Salt Lake City 2002) and five-time World Championships competitor, he was one of the most decorated skiers of all time at Canadian nationals, where he accumulated 23 titles, 10 second-place finishes, and two third places. While he was a full-time national team member, he was able to achieve a degree in science at the University of Waterloo. CCC obtained a quote from one of his Olympic teammates, Robin McKeever: “My best memories of Donald was working as a team going into the 1997 World Champs in Trondheim with him. He was at a high level as a teammate that season as we were trying to qualify for the 1998 Nagano Olympics. He…

Saturday, Sunday Rundown: Top 15’s for Sargent, Patterson in Saariselkä; Ishida Wins in Bruks

  – Americans Ida Sargent and Caitlin Patterson, Craftsbury Green Racing Project teammates, both landed in the top 15 on Saturday at the International Ski Federation (FIS) classic sprint in Saariselkä, Finland. Sargent (U.S. Ski Team A-team) placed eighth, while Patterson (last season’s U.S. SuperTour winner who will start the season on the World Cup) finished 14th. To start the day, Sargent qualified 13th and Patterson 15th to advance to the heats. Russia’s Elena Soboleva qualified fourth and went on to win the final, ahead of fellow Russians Natalia Matveeva and Natalia Nepryaeva, in second and third, respectively. Russia swept the top four and Germany’s Hanna Kolb placed fifth of out of 44. Also on Saturday, Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin posted his second-straight victory of the weekend, winning the men’s classic sprint final ahead of teammate Alexander Panzhinskiy and Germany’s Sebastian Eisenlauer, who placed second and third, respectively. Vylegzhanin initially qualified 14th, 10.31 seconds behind another Russian Nikolay Morilov while Eisenlauer…

Friday Rundown: Harvey Wins Davos Sprint; Hellner Goes Big in Bruks

(Note: This race rundown has been updated with comments from Canadian World Cup Team member Alex Harvey.) – While it wasn’t an International Ski Federation (FIS) race, Canada’s Alex Harvey won a classic sprint in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, posting the fourth-fastest time out of 34 men in the prologue, then reaching the final in the King’s-Court-style heats. In the final, he nipped Swiss runner-up Jovian Hediger at the line and bested Swiss national-team favorite Dario Cologna, who placed third, by 2 seconds. Erwan Käser, also of Switzerland, rounded out the four-man final in fourth, finishing 3 seconds after Harvey. “I’ve been working a lot of the Summer to get my sprint level back,” Harvey wrote in an email. “Especially in classic and double poling, which is an area I feel used to be one of my strengths but that I struggled in last season.” The qualifier took place early in the morning, making it “hard to…

Nov. 18 Roundup: Abramova’s Ban Up Before IBU World Champs; Pellegrino Expected in Ruka

  Ukrainian biathlete Olga Abramova has been banned for one year by the International Biathlon Union (IBU) after a failed drug test containing meldonium. She tested positive at an IBU World Cup event in Germany just nine days after meldonium was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list. InsidetheGames reported that WADA had to clarify their stance on the substance as there was confusion earlier this year. Athletes who provided a sample of urine that contained less than five micrograms between Jan. 1 and Feb. 29 were given a “no fault” verdict. Abramova’s sample of meldonium contained 7.3 micrograms, 2.3 micrograms over the limit allowed. She will not be able to compete in six out of the nine World Cup series events, but will return for the 2017 IBU World Championships to take place in Hochfilzen, Austria, on Feb. 8, four days after her ban is lifted. Her best performance was as…

Nov. 10 Roundup: Fletcher Bros on ‘The Frynge’; Mäkäräinen Preps for XC World Champs

— U.S. Nordic Combined A-teamers and brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher are the center of a monthlong campaign on ‘The Frynge’, a website dedicated to raising money and exposure for athletes in “action, adventure & Olympic sports” outside the mainstream. Nordic combined is one of those sports. The Frynge offers 10 brands of products and donates 10 percent of proceeds from all sales. For the month of November, those donations will go to the Fletchers. “With just about three months until the 2017 World Championships and 16 months until the next Olympics in South Korea, we need your help now more than ever,” the Fletchers wrote in a letter on their campaign page. “Over the next month you will learn just how much goes into Nordic combined to reach the top. Funding, however, is our biggest limiting factor. Each competition jump suit lasts around 30-50 jumps and costs nearly $350. A good suit can…

Snowfarm Racing Kicks off in Europe

It’s not just Frozen Thunder: international racing also kicked off in Europe over the weekend. Finland kicked things off in Vuokatti with Finnish Cup races. In Saturday’s sprints, Anne Kyllönen bested Andrea Julin in the final. Hanna Varjus was relegated to last in the final for interference, leaving Ann-Mary Ähtävä in third. “It’s good exercise, I got to go four times around the track at a hard pace for skiing,” Kyllönen told Kestävyys Urheilu. The World Cup veteran finished as high up as fifth in the Sprint Cup standings back in 2013, but has evolved into a stronger all-around skier recently, ranking tenth in the overall World Cup last season. 22-year-old Julin has had a few World Cup starts but is still seeking her first trip to the sprint quarterfinals. @annekyllonen sai #schiihto-avauksessa onnistuneen harjoituksen. Voittajan mietteet Facebookissamme. Onnea! #vuokatti #sprintti A photo posted by Hiihdon Suomen Cup (@hiihdonsuomencup) on Oct 29, 2016 at…

Outside Ranks Nordic Skiing ‘World’s Toughest Outdoor Sport’

What is the toughest outdoor sport in the world? In the minds of most nordic skiers, cross-country skiing takes the top spot. But how might non-nordic athletes rank it? In a recent article by Outside Magazine, author Dan Roe outlined the top five toughest outdoor athletic activities in the world: rock climbing, downhill mountain biking, ultrarunning, nordic skiing, and open-water swimming. These sports were chosen based on the degree of difficulty they take to master, the risk factor involved with competing in each, and the amount of skill/fitness that is required to perform each activity. Using peer-reviewed research, Roe then compared numbers on calories burned per hour, average number of injuries per 1,000 hours, and fatality rates for each sport. Finally, Roe interviewed professionals within each sport, asking them what makes their sport so challenging and to vote for one of the five athletic activities — outside of their own — that…

U.S. Takes First in Every Race at New Zealand Nationals

Three days of elite cross-country ski racing took place this past weekend at the Snow Farm ski resort near Wananka, New Zealand, during New Zealand National Cross-Country Ski Championships, with the U.S. Ski Team (USST) taking first in every race and taking up most of the remaining spots on the podium. Friday, Sept. 9, saw 22 athletes from Australia, Korea and the U.S. compete in the race series’ first competition, a classic sprint. Dominating the men’s classic sprint was USST veteran Andy Newell, who qualified first with a time of 3:37.69 and continued to dominate through the rounds for the win. Finishing in second behind Newell was South Korea’s Hwang Jun-Ho, and taking the final podium spot in third was Ben Saxton, Newell’s teammate on the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) T2 Team. On the women’s side, all three top spots went to the U.S., with Ida Sargent (USST) edging teammate Jessie Diggins for first and Sophie Caldwell…

Aug. 22 Roundup: Toppidrettsveka Recap; Denmark’s Vasaloppet Qualifier

— While Norway’s nordic superstar Therese Johaug was out sick, her Norwegian teammate Heidi Weng walked away with two victories on the first day of the Toppidrettsveka, a rollerski competition held in Aure and Trondheim, Norway. Weng won the women’s 24-kilometer classic mass start by 3 minutes and 51 seconds over runner-up and fellow Norwegian, Emilie Kristoffersen, and Silje Øyre Slind in third. Weng also won the second race of the day, a classic sprint, out-lunging the prologue winner, Kathrine Harsem of Norway and Polina Kovaleva of Russia in third. Weng’s third and final victory came in the 5 k classic. See complete Toppidrettsveka results here. — On the men’s side, it was Norway’s Gaute Kvåle who won the men’s 24 k classic mass start on the first day of the Toppidrettsveka. He won by 4.5 seconds over France’s Jean-Marc Gaillard, while Andrey Melnichenko of Russia finished in third, 6.7 seconds back. Kvåle told Langrenn that he took…