OTTAWA – With already a strong coaching background on his resumé, Greg Picard didn’t hesitate to pursue an available position as head coach of Canada’s national Para snowboard team when it became available.
Hired officially on August 21, 2018, Picard has immersed himself smoothly with the national team members, the NextGen contingent, and upcoming athletes, two of which were discovered at last fall’s Paralympian Searches in Toronto and Calgary – which Picard attended.
Picard, who is a registered coach with the Coaching Association of Canada, has led his squad through training camps in Europe at the start of November, a two-week camp in the Yukon, and just recently his squad completed its preparations for the second half of the season in Bromont, Que. where Picard is based.
In addition, his athletes have competed at a World Cup event in the Netherlands and the Dew Tour in Colorado before the Christmas break. There are more World Cups this winter including one at Big White B.C. February 4-7 – but the main focus are the world championships March 25 to April 1 in Pyra, Finland.
‘’I’ve been really impressed with the commitment of the athletes,’’ said Picard, a former rider for the Quebec provincial team. ‘’They’ve put in the work in training and have been very resilient. Even through setbacks they always get back to work.
‘’My athletes have already worked so hard to surpass themselves because of their disability. When they accomplish something new you can see the joy in their faces. They are eager to get to the next level.’’
As is the case with most coaches, Picard doesn’t find working with Para athletes much different than working with able-bodied athletes.
‘’The biggest change is that each athlete because of their disability may need a different learning strategy, but that is the most fascinating part of the job for me,’’ said Picard. ‘’The goal is to find the best movements for them so they can get down the course faster. The athletes are receptive to new ideas and they are putting in the efforts to make it work.
‘’There is a lot of work with equipment including the prostheses, the board, the bindings, and the boots so that they are adjusted to help the athlete manage the runs.’’
Picard transitioned to coaching in 2011, and he founded Élite Snowboard in Bromont, Que. in December 2012. He has over eight years of direct snowboard coaching experience.
Before joining Canada Snowboard, he had worked briefly with French Para rider Cecilia Hernandez and knew Canadian national Para team member Sandrine Hamel.
‘’Take the time to get to know your athlete before learning about the handicap,’’ he said. ‘’Don’t think too far ahead, just go step-by-step.’’
Quality coaching is an integral part of sport and building podium performances. Each month, we will be highlighting Canada’s top coaches who have made an impact in Paralympic sport.