There’s a lot of young talent hitting the slopes these days, says Matt Hallat, Athletic Director of the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team, and Next Gen funding through ImagiNation has played a critical role in developing a strong Team Canada.
Hallat, a three-time Para Alpine Paralympian himself, points to two shining examples of this Next Gen talent: Mel Pemble and Frédérique Turgeon.
Both women joined the team in 2017 and have already seen success on the world stage.
Victoria, B.C.’s Pemble posted four top-10 finishes in the World Cup Final to secure her spot on the Canadian Para Alpine Team for the 2018 Paralympic Games. At age 17, she went to PyeongChang with the team and claimed two top-10 results.
At the World Cup Final in March 2019, Turgeon earned her fist Crystal Globe award as the overall slalom points leader in the women’s standing category. The 19-year-old from Candiac, Quebec finished the season ranked third in the women’s overall standings.
Hallat says the support to the training environments, coaching and sport science is particularly impactful for the Next Gen athletes like Pemble and Turgeon.
“The best way to get good at something is to practice – over and over and over again,” he says. “This funding goes to letting people practice what they do, day in and day out. I don’t think you can have a bigger impact on an athletic endeavor than that.”
Funding the Next Generation is critical, stresses Hallat.
“It affects the entirety of the rest of the program. You’d have to find money to support the team somewhere,” he says. “But it would be less. You’d be taking from somewhere else like recruitment or World Cup travel to support that development.”